Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Olongapo City, Balut, San Miguel Beer and a Crapper Lacking the Essentials

Boilerman Second Class Rick Boswell and his friends sat around a table at the Baile Hai Bar putting down San Miguel beer. Their ship arrived that morning, at the U.S. Naval Station in Subic Bay, for repairs and general upkeep. They had been after laying off the coast of Viet Nam for the last 29 days to run patrols and to provide cannon fire support for the ground troops. It was time to unwind.

Boswell’s regular Olongapo sweetie spent what time that she could with him but, unless he bought drinks for her, then she had to keep moving about the tables and working other sailors for drinks. That was one way that the girls and the bar made their profit. The sailors would buy a thimble full of dyed tea for the girls at three times the price of a bottle of San Miguel, from which, the bar gave the girls a cut of the inflated price.

About four bottles of beer into the evening, the sailors asked Danny, the Filipino guy who often hung around the table, to make a run for monkey meat. Danny always hung around as if he was a friend but his real purpose was to hustle the sailors for whatever he could. When he returned with what was to be supper for the sailors he held out the change. One of the sailors told him to keep it.

A boy with a basket of eggs had followed Danny into the bar. Boys, like this one, were a common sight on the main street of the bar district in Olongapo City. They walked the streets carrying their basket of eggs and calling out, “baa… loot, baa… loot, baa… loot.” A balut wasn't an egg by any western standards.

Baluts contained an unhatched duckling developed up the point of hatching. Few American sailors would eat balut. Boswell was an exception when he had consumed enough San Miguel to be in the mental zone between “no common sense” and “just plain stupid.” He haggled for price with the kid and offered to buy a balut for his shipmates. There were no takers.

Boswell paid for one balut and set it in an empty ashtray from the next table. He liked to play this event out for all of the drama that he could. One of the Olongapo cherry boys asked what the balut was. Cherry boy was what the sailors called first-timers to Olongapo City.

One of the sailors, who refused to eat balut but had seen them cracked open, gave a graphic description of the details of the contents.

“There’s this little dead chick in there that is just a few days from when it woulda’ hatched. Its head, legs, feet and wings are all there. Most of them even have a few feathers on them. It’s disgusting. There’s not too many things that I won’t try to eat but them things are too extreme for me.”

“What do they taste like?”

“There’s one way to find out.” Boswell held the balut out to him.

Cherry Boy’s face contorted in disgust and he shook his head.

When Boswell decided that he had played out the drama enough he cracked the balut. He didn't just break it open like one might do a hard-boiled egg. Boswell was very careful to open only the end of the shell.
Boswell sealed his lips around the opening, tipped the egg and sucked the juice from within. He made a point to exaggerate the sucking sounds for benefit of his audience. Expressions of, disgust, disbelief and even and amusement showed on the faces around the table.

Boswell wasn't done. He carefully peeled the egg shell down just less than half way. This exposed the tiny head of the little bird embryo lying lifeless against the body. Boswell looked round the table at the various expressions and put the egg to his mouth again. He flipped the little head around with his tongue a few times before putting it between his teeth and chomping it off of the embryo.

Sounds of both disgust and laughter came from the sailors around table. Boswell peeled the rest of the shell back and held it up to show the near developed ducking to everyone before he popped it into his mouth. He always enjoyed putting on this show when the ship was in Subic Bay. Boswell had preceded the balut with too much San Miguel to notice that the taste was off a little.

An hour or two later Boswell began to feel a little weird inside. He wasn’t sure why. He didn’t go to chow before he left the ship because he was busy shutting down all of the boilers. Normally the ship would keep one boiler running while in Subic Bay but this time the ship was to be in cold-iron status for a retrofit needed on the boilers.

Boswell didn’t feel like he was going to vomit, as might be expected after consuming monkey meat, a balut and too much San Miguel. It was more like the solids in his innards were being hurried on through. In his drunkenness, he visualized a line boss in his innards having a fit and shouting, “I told you to get this crap outta’ here.” That was exactly how he felt.

Pressure was building inside of him on the lower end. Boswell didn't want to use what passed for a restroom at the Baile Hai except to drain processed San Miguel. It was little more that an indoor version of an outdoor privy. The pressure continued to build in Boswell’s colon until he had no choice.

Stepping into the dingy restroom, Boswell was thankful that no one had pissed on the toilet seat. As a matter of fact, he thought, it’s a good thing that there is a toilet seat. After all, this was Olongapo City. With all of that aside, Boswell dropped his white uniform trousers and the blow came before he was completely settled into the drop.

It was a wet and mushy blow like what shoots from under a bull’s tail. Boswell was thankful that he got the white pants down and his butt over the hole in time. He could have been in a world of shit.

Relieved that everything had come out alright, Boswell relaxed as he pushed the final squirts through. Whether it was the monkey meat, balut or San Miguel that messed him up, Boswell didn't know. It didn't matter, though, because he had just realized the he had a much bigger problem.

Looking about the indoor privy, Boswell saw no paper of any sort. There was no tissue, no paper towels, no Sears catalog and no pages from the Subic Times. There definitely wasn't any squeezably soft Charmin.

Boswell weighed his options. Snatching paper from the next stall wasn't an option. There were no stalls or privacy of any sort.

He considered ripping up his boxers but worried that, in his present condition; he might have a wet fart later. Wet farts with dress whites could be bad enough. Wet farts with dress whites and no skivvies would be disastrous.  

The thought of wiping with his bare hand and then washing up at the basin even crossed his mind. He got over the idea quickly, though, with the reality that there was no basin. Finally, one of his friends came into the privy.

 “Hey Boz! Are you alright? Anita is worrying about you because you’ve been gone for so long.”

“There isn’t any toilet paper.”

“Let me see what I can do.” The friend disappeared.

It seemed like forever that Boswell waited. He thought that if he waited long enough there would be a dried crust that he would scrap off with his pocket comb. He waited and waited but no one even came in to use the restroom, much less, to help him.

Sitting there staring at his shoes, it came to him. Boswell untied his left shoe, took it off and peeled off his sock. With a series of strategic wipes and folds he got the job done with just one sock.

Boswell was standing and buckling his webbed belt when his friend showed up with a facial tissue in hand. Yes, one facial tissue was all that anyone could find. At least, it looked fresh and unused

 “You have… to be shittin’ me.”  Boswell looked at his friend in total disbelief.


  1. people go through all kinds of things we know nothing about! :)
    my best,

    1. This story is based on fond memories, Sue. Thanks for the read and comment.