Somewhat Sheetless

29 8 10

(prompt: 'color' 4/5/2018)

"Wossat bloody 'sheets to the wind' stuff, me old matey? Is it the 'give yer the sheets' one? Izzat wot it is?" and without waiting for an answer, Baz continued, "... or mebbe just about a clothesline - you know - of washin'? Huh?"

Joe was much less further down the road travelled so enthusiastically by his best mate. He fondly ruffled Baz's unruly mop of hair, chuckling as he said, "Nah, mate. Yer got it all wrong. It's none of those at all." He took another swig of his beer, cleared his throat and spouted his learned opinion. "It's like this, yer see?" And he harrumphed several times to match the importance of the occasion.

"Prob'ly yer like most fellers - mebbe thinkin' of old-time sailing ships and great billowin' sails and stuff rising and dipping across the ocean. Yer tryin' to remember how many rows of sails they had, and you reckoned they'd've had more than three - huh?" And he gave Baz a dig in the ribs so hard, a lesser body would have teetered right off the barstool. Fortunately, Baz was made of sterner stuff, being what some described as near as tall as he was wide. He was also well-practiced at rolling with the punches at this earlier stage of the evening.

"Like I said, old matey. Yer got it all wrong." Now he had Baz's full attention, Joe took another hasty shloop of his beer, wiped off the excess froth on his shirt-cuff and continued. "That there 'sailor-talk' about sheets wasn't nothin' to do with the sails at all. That's what they called the ropes tying down the bottom corners of the sails. Meant to hold them down in rough weather. Yer could just see 'em pullin' pretty damn tight in a decent wind - hey?"

Baz nodded importantly. "Shor can.."

"OK. Now imagine a storm. And if those ropes came loose from all that there tugging and strainin'. Can't yer just see it? That great old girl of the sea would roll and pitch, for all the world like a drunken sailor, rolling home from wetting his whistle at his favourite watering spot." As always, Joe was enjoying his role as teacher, even if his student was likely to need to hear the tale all over again tomorrow.

"If only one broke away, the sail would maybe flap a bit, but it'd be like a feller after only one or two drinks - nothin' to write home about.

But if two ropes broke, well-ll-ll... things'd start to get more serious. Just like that drinking feller as the grogs roll on, right?"

Baz clunked his glass down heavily on the bar. "So-o-o... gettin' too much booze under the belt would make a codger 'three sheets ter the wind', yeh?" This deep thought obviously required serious concentration, and despite a dangerous sway or two, suddenly a great grin split his face.

"I got it! S'like if you arsked me wot colour is drunk?" and Baz near fell over with the exceptional brand of humour he had only just discovered he was capable of. "Th' colour of drunk, me old matey, ish simple as the face on yer whiskas. It's B-U-R-P-L-E!"

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