My name is Ned Gladd*. I cover the waterfront. I am a famous journalist and my beat is the high seas. If anything happens on the water, I’m there. You will see my byline at the bottom of this article. But, in over thirty years of covering ocean tragedies, I am anything but glad. It is my sad duty to make the official report to the world of the demise of the world-famous and much-loved man of the sea, Popeye. U. S. Navy Seal teams made their last sighting of the lone seaman as he drifted on a current into the heart of the Arabian Sea. The container ship he was crewing on was attacked by a gang of Somali pirates. The skipper of the S. S. Sweet Pea, a Captain Phillips, confirmed the attack which was repulsed with grenade launchers. Popeye, not realizing that rescue was only minutes away, chose to take a life raft and several cases of the cargo. The hold contained over ten thousand cases of canned spinach, which was on its way to the poverty-ridden port of Zanzibar. Popeye, thinking all was lost, had been making a desperate attempt to get some of the precious food to a port of safety.
Popeye was predeceased by his father, Poopdeck Pappy. He is survived by his adopted son, Swee’Pea and widow, Olive Oyl. Ms. Oyl and Popeye were secretly married in a private ceremony on an island in the Seychelles over twenty years ago. They chose to keep their marriage a secret due to the fact that they had a long-term “live-in” relationship which was opposed by Ms. Oyl’s father, Cole Oyl and mother, Nana Oyl. Both are strict Baptists from North Carolina with strong ties to ultra-right wing political causes. Ms. Oyl’s brother, Castor, was not present. It is rumored that he had joined the Church of the Latter Day Saints and was giving The Book of Mormon away in Orlando, Florida.
But, my heart truly breaks for Ms. Olive Oyl, Popeye’s true love.
Swee”Pea, who is now 31 years old and runs a tattoo parlor in the Maldives, could not be reached for comment. He is said to be in seclusion in a monastery off the coast of Cyprus.
I am indebted to the U. S. Navy for permission to hitch a ride to the Port of Mahajanga, Madagascar, where a funeral will take place. It will be symbolic, since the remains of the sailor are not known. Experts believe that he had drowned during a squall in the Mozambique Channel.
I am standing outside the humble chapel watching the well-wishers file past. I was lucky enough to get a few moments with some of the mourners as they entered the church.
Mr. Bluto, long considered a rival for the affections of Ms. Oyl, said that he was greatly saddened. As he stroked his black whiskers, he said that his full attention was to attend to Ms. Oyl’s needs in this hardest of times. Mr. Bluto said that he would call upon Ms. Oyl as soon as possible and offer his full services to help her through her grief.
The Sea Hag mentioned that she never really had anything specific against Popeye. “I just like to bother some people,” she said, as she wiped away a salty tear.
I caught sight of Harold Hamgravy in the distance. He was avoiding the crowds. This aged man, once a boyfriend of Ms. Oyl, was struggling with a walker and two attending nurses.
A few minutes later, a portly gentleman by the name of J. Wellington Wimpy stopped to chat with me. He said he was heartbroken about the entire affair. As he left to enter the chapel, he turned to me and asked if he could borrow a dollar for a hamburger. He assured me he would gladly pay me back on Tuesday. I gave him $2.00 and told him the extra dollar was to light a candle in the sanctuary. He assured me he would.
The life of Popeye and Olive Oyl was not without some controversy. There was a time when he was approached to be a spokesman for the Quaker Oats Company; he was asked to say that their product was better than spinach. The Society of Friend’s objected to the phrase of “Popeye the Quaker Man.” They also expressed concern about the excessive submissiveness of Ms. Oyl.
The issue was settled out of court.
The idea of spinach was the food of choice for Popeye was falsely based on the mistaken notion of the Iron content of the vegetable. Insiders were quick to point out that it was the vitamin A that gave Popeye that extra ‘kick’ when he needed it.
So, the mourners are gone now. The few members of the world’s press corps have caught the late flights back to Paris. But, I am still here. I’m standing on the sandy shore of the Indian Ocean and looking out at the horizon. I’m wondering what will the world be like now without this man with the oversized forearms. This quiet giant of a man. This sailor who never once had to take penicillin shots or hang out in the local Y.M.C.A. was now, I imagined, talking knots with Davey Jones, Jack Sparrow, Mr. Roberts, Captain Hook and all those who go down to the sea in ships.
May God rest his gentle soul.
I pray that he was strong to the finish…
*Ned Gladd is the author of the following highly respected books:
“Seaman & Semen” A History of America’s Great Nautical Law Firm
“Moby Dick” A Medical Look at ED Among Merchant Marines
“Hey Sailor” Religious Foundations of World-wide Navel Dating Practices
“Dot Dot Dot Dash Dash Dash Dot Dot Dot” The Epic Tale of the Titanic Told Entirely in Morse Code
“Dolphins & Mariners” A Critical Essay on Professional Sports Teams Named After Ocean Things
“The Old Man and the Gowanus Canal”
“Endurance” A Sailor’s Marriage
“The Ancient Seafarer”
By Ned Gladd
[With grateful appreciation to Wikipedia]