Early Spring in Omaha. The Drunken Sailor moved here to forget, but the endless prairie makes reflection somehow inevitable.

He had once been the toast of Lake Pokagamy Yacht Club, and a favorite among the wealthy and connected for Club President and Admiral of the Seas. Flush with the promise of power, it was his idea, and a splendid idea it was, to extend the summer sailboat race. Why not cross to Chester Village and back? The flags! The pomp! A record number of yachts entered, and the day dawned clear and warm, with a leeward wind at a perfect ten knots. The future admiral himself, rakish and handsome, replete in filigreed cap and gold-braided epaulets, sounded the starting horn. How could he have known? How could anyone? The turn-around at Mary’s Dockside Bar and Grill required an official stamp, and when Mary saw the vast armada approach she did what any smart entrepreneur would do.

She declared it a Martini and Half-price Chicken Wing Day.

That evening, bedraggled and off-course, the boats limped back. Some (wisely) spent the night, effectively competing for Slowest Boat. Two twelve-year olds, Chelsea Johnson and Becka Parmutter took first place. Their names are duly engraved on the ancient trophy, right next to Brigadier General Theodore Applewhite. They used a canoe.

Blame fell hard on The Drunken Sailor, whose own affinity for Happy Hour was well-known. The Senior Committee struck his name from its august roles and, stripped of his honor if not dignity he turned in his cap and pen, furled his sail, and motored north. Today he sits before a computer in the Omaha Siren, answering letters for the weekly help column. A captain of adversity, an admiral of the unusual, he wonders if it is his fate to guide others over the treacherous shoals of life. At least he hopes so.

Dear Drunken Sailor:

We are planning the Spring Cotillion at the old Highwater Inn. One question: Do you recommend dress whites or dress blues?

Signed, Annete Bagley, Nantuckett Lane, Omaha, NE


Dress whites. Unless the main course is chili. Have a drink.

Dear Drunken Sailor:

I’m having trouble with the wife, who thinks I’m a dirty old man. We’re both seventy-nine and she thinks twice a week is plenty, and I ain’t talking pot roast. And Sunday is off limits. Even the Lord rested on Sunday, she says. What gives?

Signed, Stu Blake, Wainlow, Iowa


Dirty old man? I’d call you a dirty young man. Go to church. Give thanks to heaven, and to your wife. Have a drink.

Dear Drunken Sailor:

Recently you recommended graduates at the National Maritime Academy wear the gold sash around their waist, with button-down cummerbund. Any sailor worth his sextant knows the gold sash goes over the shoulder, with the cummerbund attached by three silver academy pins.

I’m simply appalled, Sir. I can only assume you are the victim of temporary madness, brought on by scurvy. However, as a fellow officer I demand you supply the CORRECT answer to the following fundamental uniform question:

I am invited to the Shannon Murphy’s of Hyannis Port for the annual Captain’s Dinner and Formal Dance. My manservant stands at the ready, having prepared Wellington chaps, a vest with watch and chain, pearl cuff links, white tunic, prep school tie, chambray belt, rating badge, service stripes, gold studs, bow tie, suspenders, shirtwaist, flying ascot, royal portmonteau, holiday clips, cap with class insignia, shoulder boards, ribbons, and an honorary St. Midas of Yorkshire Regimental sword with matching Turkish scabbard. I step fresh from the shower. Now what, pray tell, do I put on FIRST?

— The Honorable Jefferson T. Hoffminster, LCDR (ret.)


Your underwear. Have a drink.


Richard Donnelly

Richard Donnelly lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Classic flyover land. Which makes us feel just a little... superior. Mr. Donnelly's first book is 'The Melancholy MBA,' published by Brick Road Poetry Press in Columbus, Georgia.