*”salty” is a compliment to sailors = experienced.
Inevitably, someone would point out that the likely cause of the foul weather was that one of our crew had committed the worst sin of all: not paying a whore. All would nod gravely. In my day, seamen were convinced that this was such a serious infraction it could threaten a ship’s survival. More than once I saw fellow crew members, who’d come back to the ship so drunk they couldn’t remember where they’d been, make superhuman efforts to send money to a woman ashore in a desperate attempt to avoid the curse of the unpaid prostitute.
I thought about this while reading about the scandal in Cartagena. It appears that getting drunk and going back to the hotel with the women wasn’t, in itself, what got the Secret Service personnel into trouble. What got them busted was that someone in their group refused to pay an escort the pre-arranged price. One of the escorts wanted $800. She said that a Secret Service agent offered her $30. (To put that figure in perspective, it’s more or less what seamen used to pay in Cartagena 45 years ago for all-night companionship.)
The stereotype of “spending like a drunken sailor” is true. We prided ourselves on spending our money foolishly. Working on a ship headed to Latin America was known as a “romance run” because it would often end up costing us more than we made. But we didn’t care. We’d give a woman whatever she asked for. If the requested price was steep — like, say, $800 — we’d keep enough for the taxi back to the ship and give her whatever we had.
I don’t want to romanticize the seedy life of merchant seamen, but if the Secret Service personnel involved in this scandal had played by the same rules and followed the same ethical standards as the drunken sailors I used to work with, there would have been no confrontation, and they might still have their jobs.
It’s cool yo that we have these stupid ass superstitions to fall back on to treat people like people, instead of just doing that anyway.