r o b e r t    j a c o b y

What Will Entertain People


This is Ď77. Weíre stuck in Alexandria, Egypt. Three weeks to get the cargo off. Me and two other guys, weíre going around to the little cafť bars, weíre getting fucked up. We come out of one, lit, weíre trying to get a taxi to go to another one.

Here this Egyptian kidís got this baboon like you see at the zoo. The fucking thingís 3 foot high, got a muzzle on. Iím looking at the kid, and the kidís smiling, and the baboonís looking at me. So the kidís like, I donít know how you sense these things, but you know: the kid wanted me to get a coin and give it to the baboon. Thatís what the kid wanted me to do.

So I got a coin, and Iím showing it, and the baboon sticks his hand out, and I drop the coin in the baboonís paw, and it closed it, and looks at it, and looks at the kid, looks at the coin, looks at me, looks at the coin, gives the kid the coin, and flips. Does a flip.

I say, ďThatís cool.Ē You know. What will entertain people, especially when youíre drinking.

So I get another coin out.

Now the guys are yelling, ďCome on, Ronnie! Come on, we got the taxi!Ē

ďWait a minute! Wait a minute!Ē

Now in my mind, me and this baboon are becoming friends. I give it a coin. Takes the coin, looks at it, looks at the kid, looks at the coin, looks at me, the coin, the kid, gives the kid the coin, does a flip. Now me and this baboon are buddies. See. So in my mind, what Iím gonna do is, Iím gonna take the baboon back to the ship, see, cuz we got the taxi. And we all hated that chief mate, so what I was gonna do was, I was gonna take the baboon back to the ship because weíre buddies. I was gonna tie his leash to the chief mateís doorknob, and I was gonna kick the baboon three or four times and pull his muzzle off and then knock on the chief mateís door. And when the chief mate opens his door, this thing is gonna attack him.

So thatís all going through my mind, because Henshaw had told me the trip before, one of the ABs hated this chief mate. Well, everybody hated the guy. He was a real fucking idiot. They had these pipes coming down the front of the house where we slept. We had these big breathers up on the flying bridge. They stuck up almost like mushrooms.

Well, this guy climbed up there one night, this able seaman, and he took a line, and he lowered the line down from the flying bridge in front of the house where the chief mateís room was. He marked it, then he pulled it back up, and he tied a chipping hammer, which has two points on either end, we use it when weíre chipping rust, it comes to an angle on either side of the hammer. He drops this down through the air vent so you couldnít see it and tied it off up there. So when the ship would roll, it would knock back and forth, try to drive the mate nuts. I think thatís what gave me the idea of the baboon. God bless Henshaw for telling me that.

Anyway, this is going through my mind. So now the baboon puts his paw up to get another coin. I grab the baboonís paw, and Iím trying to take it over to the taxi, cuz me and the baboon are buddies.

Well, the kid, he donít like this. I donít think the baboon liked it much, either, to be honest with you. Now the kidís pulling the baboon by the leash, by the collar on the neck.

So I got the arm, and Iím pulling the arm this way, and the baboonís trying to grab the leash, and the guys are yelling at me. ďNo! NO! Donít take the baboon,Ē cuz theyíre in the taxi already waiting for me. ďNo, Ron! NO! Donít bring theóGod, no, God, no! Not in here with us! No baboon! Jesus Christ!Ē

So I finally gave up on the fucking thing. He didnít want to go, so I let his arm go, and I got in the taxi, and we left.



ROBERT JACOBY is currently pursuing happiness in Maryland. "What Will Entertain People" is an excerpt from his unpublished nonfiction book, the memoir of a 61-year-old, life-long merchant marine re-counting 40 years of his fantastic, hilarious, and politically incorrect exploits around the world. He has also completed a novel, There are Reasons Noah Packed No Clothes, and is at work on a second novel, Dusk and Ember.

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