Q: Why is American beer like having sex on a boat?
A: Because it's fucking close to water.
I've never done it on a boat. Had sex, that is. I've had American beer on a boat. There's not much to it. All told, I'd rather have sex, thank you very much.
I've had lots of alcohol on a boat. It's kind of a tradition of mine. The best was when I became fast friends with two groups of Canadian backpackers, on an overnight ferry in the Aegean. We started talking because it was good to hear someone speaking a language you recognized after months on the road; we started drinking because it turned out that all seven of us (three guys traveling together, three girls traveling together, and me, on my own) were carrying a bottle of alcohol, "just in case."
My contribution was grappa. I'd bought a bottle of grappa in Naples, curious as to what it tasted like, and quickly learned that cheap grappa tastes horrible; fucking close to water, if said water came out of the Neopolitan sewer after a bunch of cheap wine had been dumped into it.
We didn't care.
We had fun.
We changed our plans and spent the next ten days together rather than splitting off and going to different ports like we'd originally planned. I skipped out on going to Crete. The girls skipped out on Mykonos. We all went to Santorini instead and bought ouzo by the plastic jug and cigarettes by the carton. The ouzo was worse than the grappa, and none of us smoked; cigarettes were so cheap we could hardly afford not to buy them, though.
We moved onto Naxos. Two of the Canadians fooled around together. I didn't, even though I was tempted. Things got weird. We realized that we should probably move on. I was the first to leave. I had missed out on Crete, but Turkey was waiting, and I didn't yet know that raki was the same thing as ouzo. Or that Turkish coffee was the same as Greek coffee. Or that a kebap was the same as a gyro.
I caught the ferry from Naxos onto Selcuk, and the ancient city of Ephesus. And then on to Cappadocia, Istanbul, and beyond.
I still wonder if I made the wrong decision. Friendship on the road or the sea seemed to come so easily back then, and feel so strong, and yet was so easy to leave behind.