Gregor’s therapist suggested a vacation. He thought Gregor might enjoy a ride on a submarine, but there was a problem.
Gregor doesn’t know where to find a submarine. There are none in his neighborhood. So, Gregor did the next best thing. He watched movies about submarines. Lots of movies. Most of them were about old time submarines, the ones from way back in the war days.
Things went sideways for Gregor. He was left with more questions than answers.
The first thing he noticed was that submarine captains like to wear hats. They also peek up at the world through the periscope. Every time the captain wants to see the outside world, he has to flip his hat around to look through the periscope. The captain will say something like, “Up scope!” followed by a quick twirl of his hat. When he’s finished spying, it’s “Down scope!” and the captain gives his hat another twirl. Gregor wonders why? Who needs a twirling hat? Gregor doesn’t like the word “scope” either. Gregor wants to ban hats on submarines, just like this guy in the picture.
Gregor can’t figure out how to start a submarine. Where’s the ignition switch? Is it a stick shift or an automatic transmission? Clutch? Why don’t any movies show that part? All the submarines Gregor has ever seen in the movies have already been started by someone. Who did that?
Why is everyone who hangs around the engine room always covered in oil and grease? No one upstairs has this problem. Is the submarine leaky? Gregor worries about leaky subs. Where does all the oil and grease go when these guys take showers? Maybe they never take showers. That would explain why submarines smell bad.
Gregor saw one movie where a little dog was on board the submarine. The dog belonged to the captain. Where does the dog . . . er . . . do his thing? After he does his thing, where does his “thing” go? Where does all the other garbage go? Do they just shove it out a special tube? Gregor saw another movie where the people put junk into the torpedo tube and shot it into the ocean to fool the enemy ships up above. Is that what really happens? Are there incinerators on submarines? Garbage disposals?
Why do people on submarines always argue with each other? Do this! No, do that! No, this is the plan! Being stuck down there, Gregor thinks these people should try to get along better. Is there a therapist on board? Gregor demands a sub-therapist.
Why do some of these folks carry a sidearm? What can you shoot when you’re in a submarine? Where do they do target practice?
Why are all submarine cooks fat when everyone else is skinny?
Gregor sees these people writing letters back to loved ones. Where’s the mailbox?
Gregor really likes the phrase, “Rig for silent running.” It gives him goosebumps every time. He wants to know what gets “rigged” to make stuff silent? If the silent running thing really works so well, how come these guys are always getting depth charges dumped on their heads?
Gregor wants to know why there aren’t any women in these old sub movies? What’s with that? Gregor sees women everywhere, except for submarines. Is it some kind of club?
Gregor wants to know why all these submarines are forever breaking, getting shot, dumped upon, stalked and hunted, yet they always make it back to home base? Do submarines ever die? What happens with all that metal if you try to scrap one? Where does all the leftover stuff go?
Sometimes sub people grow beards. Then, the beards only get so long and stop growing, right in the middle of the movie. How can that happen? Gregor’s beard grows everyday. Is there something in the sub air that’s secret?
Speaking of air, how do submarines store up enough air to submerge for all that time? Where does it come from? Is there a really long tube that they stick up to the surface? If it’s a tube, why don’t they show it? Is it also secret? Maybe it’s just compressed air, the same stuff Gregor uses to blow off his keyboard from time to time.
Gregor wants to know why it’s called a “submarine?” He’s never seen a movie where Marines are running the sub. Sometimes, they’re passengers, he supposes.
Why are those sub guys always sweating? Isn’t there a thermostat? Isn’t it cold down deep in the ocean? Scuba divers don’t go very deep but they’re always wearing rubber suits, so it must be cold down there.
Why is it that every submarine captain knows more about everything than everybody else down there? Are the other folks just helper-monkeys? Gregor understands that the old subs needed a bigger labor force. But, the new ones all look like space ships, all automated. Why not just put it on auto-pilot like real airplane pilots do? Are submarines dumber than airplanes?
What good is a submarine if your enemy lives in Iowa?
Gregor lives here.