Making do with what's at hand
|Dad was a smoker almost all of his life. He started sneaking cigarettes as a boy when doctors used to endorse 'healthy' cigarette brands such as Lucky Strike and Philip Morris. He really got hooked during his time in the Navy, when Uncle Sam provided cheap tobacco as a perk for bored soldiers and sailors. Unfiltered Camel cigarettes were Dad's preferred poison, but he was still able to mock their 1960's ad campaign about walking a mile for a Camel. Dad's oft-repeated version was:
"I'd walk a mile just to put my mouth on the butt of a camel!"
He also liked to tell a raunchy joke that involved a real camel. I've dressed it up a bit, but the punch line is straight from Dad's version:
"Dash it all to bloody hell!" declared Lord Percival. "I'm for the Foreign Legion!"
"Yes, m'lord," replied the unflappable Beeves. "Shall I pack your steamer trunk?"
Percy, as he was known to close friends, was suffering from a self-diagnosed broken heart. Beeves might have suggested that it was merely a bruised ego, but the loyal valet would never have said so aloud.
"The nerve of the woman!" Percy exclaimed. "No interest in marriage, said I'm too dull!'
"Perhaps Lady Anne is a bit too 'vivacious' to be a suitable wife," thought Beeves, but he would never presume to offer an unsolicited opinion. And he would never allow himself to even think that his master was perhaps a bit too dim to make a good husband.
Rank does have its privileges and Lord Percival was soon able to procure a commission in the famed French Foreign Legion. A few weeks of preparation, training, and travel found Percy in command of a remote desert fort with little strategic importance. The legion had quickly measured his mettle and had given Percy an appropriate posting.
At first the isolation was welcome, but a lack of genteel society soon made the time drag and the surly Frenchmen seemed to have little regard for his English manners. Most of all, Percy missed the company of the fun-loving and 'accommodating' Lady Anne.
Weeks of desert loneliness brought Percy's need to a head and prompted him to ask his adjutant about possibilities for relief.
"Sergeant, what do the men do for rest and relaxation? When they need that certain kind of ease?"
"Well sir, we have a camel, and the men ride it - "
" A camel!" interrupted Percy. "What do you take me for? I've no interest in riding your bloody camel!"
"Yes sir, forgive me for suggesting it sir."
Abstinence makes the urge grow stronger, and Percy eventually decided that the camel might be his only option. He had to do something, and maybe the men would respect him more if he joined in their 'quaint' local customs. After all, when in North Africa . . .
"Sergeant, assemble the men and bring the camel round. Make sure it's well hobbled and find me a step ladder."
"But sir, I don't think you understand - "
"Nonsense Sergeant, I understand perfectly and I intend to provide a cracking demonstration of proper English technique."
"Yes sir, right away sir."
The camel was brought round and Percy mounted first the ladder and then the camel. He gave a stirring performance that amazed the men both for its vigor and thoroughness. Feeling a great sense of satisfaction afterward, Percy decided to bask in the admiration of the garrison.
"Well Sergeant, is that how the men do it?"
'No sir, the men usually ride the camel to town and visit the whorehouse."