Kissing the Royal Baby
Provided by Dennis Grace:
- The Royal Baby is a simple selection: he's the fattest shellback (that's "non-pollywog" for you lubbers) on board. In ancient days (i.e., the 18th century) the Baby's belly would be smeared with tar (the same black pitch the sailor's smeared in their hair as a delousing agent, the same goo that necessitated those huge collars the tars wore). Then a cherry, olive, grape, or somesuch tidbit would be poked into the Baby's belly button. Each successive wog was ordered to "kiss" the RB's belly, actually to try to pluck the tidbit from the navel without getting a tarred face. Of course, once the wog's face was within an inch or so of the belly, poised with mouth open and teeth unsheathed, the RB would grab the wog's head and stuff his face into the tar. With a moment's liberal smearing, the tar would go up the wog's nose, into his teeth, eyelids, beard, and even ears. Earlier in this century, they started using gear grease. By the time I went through (1980), the US Navy had begun to insist the "tar" be more-or-less edible. Ours was a disgusting combination of shortening, green food coloring, and sardine oil.