24 June 2017

To Absent Friends

Amidst the joy and excitement of meeting up with all the old friends at every reunion I start thinking about those who aren't here, those who could't come for reasons of time, distance, work, family and community obligations. You guys are in our thoughts this week. I know this is true because we've been talking about you.

Don't worry, it's not all bad-rapping. For instance, when the topic of the 7th Fleet Band comes up, I am obligated to talk about Mike Burch-Pesses. LCDR Pesses was my bandmaster when I was a boot chief. The poor guy didn't just have to oversee operations of the COM7FLT band. He had to oversee the operations of Chief Mullen,
Sorry, sir, but I couldn't
control myself. 

I recently heard from the commander. To his regrets over not being able to attend the reunion this year, he added, "I can still see you playing "Eve of Destruction" as a bossa nova during a reception aboard Blue Ridge."

I don't recall this particular event, but I'm sure it's true. The story has Frank Mullen written all over it. It's the sort of thing I'd been doing since I wore seaman's stripes and didn't have the sense to curtail when I put on anchor devices,

But Mike's ability to discuss this calmly sums up this fine officer's ability to know where to draw the line. I remember those receptions on the Blue Ridge, formal affairs in the officer's wardroom and the double-holy admiral's wardroom as well as ultra-formal, topside affairs with flag officers and civilian dignitaries. And there's poor Mr. Pesses, cringing in fear and hoping that no one will notice that his piano player, a chief petty officer, for God's sake, is jazzing up anti-war protest songs from the Sixties.

But he was also willing to laugh when it was all over and nobody wound up in the brig. Of course, 30 years gives a guy plenty of time to get over things.

No comments: