Sure, you probably knew that Cap’n Ahab was a sour and surly fellow, a supernally stern and sadistic surveyor of the seven seas. And you probably guessed that he had a serious case of OCD, obsessing about a certain albino cetacean all the time.
But did you know he was also a prig about his wig? weird about his beard? a dandy who considered himself the ultra marine eye candy?
Well, come up to the foredeck of the Pequod, where we spy the ship’s master scanning the horizon for his horrible prey. It is now a bit late for scouting whales, well into the late afternoon, for Ahab has been below these many hours primping and preening. Queequeg spent over 3-1/2 hours setting the Cap’n’s quadrilinear beard-perm with an assortment of oil, pins, twine and bits of bone. First Mate Stinky One-eye had a deuce of a time getting all the little inked anchors aptly arrayed about the bandy rim of Ahab’s topper. I personally boiled his shirt and collar ‘til eight bells last eve to insure their whiteness. That ebon grosgrain ribbon at his neck is special order from Nantucket.
So now the Dandy Cap’n minces about the blood-and-blubber-sloshed deck, as if he were the very belle ‘o the ball. Aye, the stiffness of Ahab’s substitute sandalwood leg has nothing on the mighty pole that seems ever stuffed up his backside.
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