How To Simulate Shipboard Life At Home
( Notice the Background is "Haze Gray and Underway" ! )
- When commencing this simulation, remember to lock yourself inside your
house and board up all windows and doors with all friends and family outside.
Communicate only with letters that your neighbor will hold up for four
(or six) weeks before delivering, losing one out of every five. Have a
bleary-eyed, overworked, disinterested slob yell "Mail Call!"
at random intervals through one week of each month, only to tell you with
a smirk, "You didn't get anything" nine out of ten times.
- Surround yourself with people you would not choose to be with, roughly
one person per squarre yard; those you do know, you don't like. Suggested
choices are those who: chain smoke, fart loudly and often, snore like a
steam locomotive on an uphill grade. Also, they must: complain incessantly,
seldom shower and/or brush their teeth. Lastly, they must use expletives
in speech like children use sugar on cereal. In-laws will do nicely.
- Remove all radios and televisions to cut yourself off completely from
the outside world but have a neighbor bring you last month's issues of
Time, Newsweek, The Retired Officer, and Playboy (with all the photos cut
out). On one lone monitor, located in the worst possible place, connect
three channels. The first should play old TV shows that even a "normal"
station won't play. The second channel plays eight movies a month, over
and over and over. The last channel plays "Training" films on
such engaging topics as: small engine repair, proper blender operation,
paperwork routing procedures, etc. Each channel must randomly go off the
air, preferably when there is finally something you wanted to watch.
- Monitor all operating home appliances hourly, recording vital parameters
(plugged in, light comes on as door is opened, etc.). If not in use, log
as "SECURED." Make line drawing of all piping and electrical
- Do not flush toilets for the first three days to simulate the smell
of forty people using it. After that, flush and overflow once daily. At
least every five days, post a sign stating "The Sewage System is Secured
Until Further Notice." It is OK to forget to remove this sign. Shower
water should be either hot or cold, when you have it at all. When you get
all soaped up (soap on face or shampoo in hair), have neighbor turn off
- Wear only proper uniform attire or approved coveralls in designated
areas (no special T-shirts or other clothing). Even though nobody cares,
once a week, weather notwithstanding, clean and press one uniform (in the
dark on a broken ironing board), go outside, and stand at attention for
one half hour. After this, change back into coveralls (catch and rip the
sleeve of your shirt on your way to change. Curse and yell, then wad it
up and throw it back into your locker.)
- Cut your hair weekly, making it shorter each time, until you are bald
or you look as though you have tangled with a demented sheepshearer. Have
on of your close quarters strangers tell you to get a haircut at least
once a week, whether you need it or not.
- Work in 18-hour cycles, sleeping only four hours at a time to ensure
your body doesn't know or care it it's daytime or night. At random intervals,
announce that you will either add or subtract an hour from the apparent
- Listen to your favorite cassette six time a day for two weeks., then
play music that causes nausea until you are glad to get back to your "favorite"
- Cut a single bed in half lengthwise, and enclose three sides. Add a
roof that prevents you from sitting in any position (18" is a good
height). Replace the mattress with a steel plate and cover it with three
inches of foam to duplicate a shipboard bunk. Place a dead animal under
your bed to simulate the smell of your cubemate's sheets. Each "bed"
should be equipped with: two sheets (with unidentifiable stains) that are
twice the size of the mattress, one very scratchy wool blanket that is
half the size of the mattress, one pillow that smells like dead, wet fowl,
and one pillowcase (again with the same stains) that is about half the
size of the pillow. Whenever possible, have someone take your pillow or
blanket to instill a sense of camaraderie that exists on all US Naval vessels.
- Rig up an alarm system that will go off at random interval for the
first and last hour of your four-hour sleep period. This will simulate
the various alarms of watchstanders going off at odd times, drills, and
routine noise from inconsiderate people. So you will not get accustomed
to ignoring your alarm clock, this alarm system should alternately sound
like a fire alarm, police whistle, music you hate, or a plane landing overhead. Place your bed on a rocking table to ensure that you're tossed from side to side for the remaining three hours.
- Nose-pickers and butt-scratchers should prepare all food while blindfolded, using all the spices that can be groped for (or none at all). Add salt. If the food (term used loosely) does not stick to an inverted plate when served cold, add more lard. Add more salt. If the food contains at least
one part per thousand of fiber, dispose of it (unless it was mixed with
a broom). Add more salt. Such food is traditionally eaten with eyes shut,
nose plugged, and as fast as is humanly possible. Also a tradition, always
take more than you can possibly eat. Beat your plate enthusiastically against
the side of the trash can when disposing of your leftovers. Have week-old fruit and vegetables delivered to your garage between two and four in the morning by police helicopter, and wait two weeks before eating them.
- Periodically have a neighbor shut off power at the main breaker and
send a muscle-bound seventeen year old psychopath with a funny haircut
and loaded rifle (simulated Marine) running through you house, repeatedly
yelling at the top of his lungs "Get Down! Get Down!" If, at
this point, you don't lie face down on the floor with your hands on top
of your head fast enough, you will be beaten to a pulp while the psychopath
screams "Don't Move!" This should last for at least twenty minutes.
- Buy a gas mask, smear the seal with rancid animal fat, and scrub the
faceplate with steel wool until you can't see out of it. Wear it for two
hours every fifth day, even to the bathroom.
- Have a neighbor prepare an emergency (i.e. burn down your house) that
will require you to evacuate the premises, knowing that if you exit, a
biker gang you hired (simulating sharks) will cut off your arms and legs.
To ensure readiness for such a contingency, randomly start small fires
and practice putting them out. Study an ancient first aid book to treat
any wounds that may occur. If none occur, ask for volunteers.
- Study the owners manual for all appliances in the dwelling. If you
don't have a manual, have someone who knows nothing about the item write
one. At regular intervals, take each one apart and put it back together
again, then test operate it at the extreme limit of its tolerances.
- Buy 50 cases of toilet paper and lock up all but two rolls. Give the key to a friend going on vacation to Tierra del Fuego. Ensure one of the two rolls is wet all the time.
- Remove all plants, pictures, and decorations (except vulgar photographs).
Paint all furnishings gray, white, or hospital green. Use a special "fading" paint that will require you to do it all again in three months. Stencil everything with numbers.
- Smash your forehead or shins with a hammer every two days to simulate hitting the knee-knockers and overhead while walking through the passageways.
- To ensure a clean and happy environment, sweep and dust twice daily.
Every week clean the house from top to bottom. Work hard all day (even
if it's only a three hour job) repeating your efforts as often as possible.
When finished, have someone inspect your work, criticizing as much as possible.
- Twice a day (or more if there is no need) get everyone together in
as small a room as possible (a closet or bathroom should do) and have a
meeting to listen to someone tell you what you did all day.
- Since you have no doctor, stock up on as many antacids, aspirin, Band-Aids,
Robitussin, and suppositories as possible. These have been proven (by Navy
corpsmen) to cure any disease known to Mankind. For major injuries (broken
bones, etc), use Band-Aids and Motrin.
- To achieve the permanent, smelly, gray, dingy looks in your clothes,
have a plumber connect the washer directly to the sewer lines. Additionally,
throw clothing in a dark corner for a few days before drying.
- Every three weeks or so, go outside directly to the city slums, wearing
your best clothes. Enter the raunchiest bar you can find and order their
expensive beer. Drink as many as you can pour down in four hours, then
hire a cab to return you by the longest route he can find. Tip the driver
even though he doubled your fare. Lock yourself back in your dwelling for
three more weeks.
- For the final touches, run a blender at a constant high speed the entire
time to simulate the constant whine of the ship's machinery. Also, have
the biker gang you hired bang on the plumbing to simulate men working on
other floors at all hours of the day or night.
- This simulation must run a minimum of 90 days to be effective. The
exact date of the end of the simulation will be changed no fewer than seven
times without your knowledge. This is done to keep you guessing as to when
you can hope to resume a semi-normal life, and in the hopes that it will
screw up any plans you might like to make. On the last day of the simulation,
remove the boards from the windows and doors but do not go outside. Have
your loved ones stand across the street while you stand at attention for
four hours and look at them (this simulates having duty on the day you
This guide was designed to assist those who would like to, but haven't
had the opportunity or privilege to enjoy an extended period of time aboard a US Naval vessel.