Linda Delaney and Jane Daffron
Admiral Harriman Nelson hurriedly climbed down the gangway into the Control Room of the SSRN Seaview. He looked decidedly unhappy. As soon as his feet hit the deck, Chip Morton, the XO looked over at him and immediately addressed him with concern.
"Admiral, is there something wrong, sir? Did we miss a meeting? We’re set to sail at 0945. The boat and the men are at the ready, and the Skipper’s forward, waiting for final orders."
"No, Chip, no meetings, and nothing’s wrong…" he paused somberly, "…at least nothing serious."
"But, sir, the dress blues usually mean…"
"…usually means for us to take cover, Brass is approaching, or worse, we’re going to have to approach them," Lee Crane added, having just walked aft from the Observation Nose.
"Oh, Nothing as remotely as interesting as that. Believe me, gentlemen, suffice it to say…this was the only uniform available to me this morning."
Crane quirked and eyebrow at Nelson, and Chip looked at him, his face a question. Finally Lee dared to venture into the unknown. "Your only uniform, sir?"
A mild grin opened the Admiral’s face, and with his steel blue eyes twinkling just a bit, he began to explain…
Nelson slid the key into the lock of the front door of his home. As the door swung open into the foyer, he caught a glimpse of a diaper covered rump crawling into the Great Room. Smiling, he called out, "Sean! …Sean !"
He heard a rustling of the carpet and then a small form peaked azure blue eyes around the frame of the doorway. "DADADADADADA… DA!" Sean Pearce Nelson hauled his diaper covered bottom into a sit and grinned merrily at his father, a strange brownish object in his hand… "DA?"
Nelson walked over to the baby and hoisted him into his arms, kissing him gently on the cheek. "Hello, Sean," he said softly. "…and how was your day?"
Sean waved the object in his father’s face, "DA?" then without further flourish, promptly stuck it in his mouth. Harry looked at it curiously. It appeared to be some sort of teething biscuit. After all, his son had been cutting more teeth lately. Teething biscuits seemed to be one of the few things that had actually kept him happy.
Nelson walked into the kitchen with Sean, where he found his wife, Karen Davis Nelson unpacking a diaper bag. She had just returned from Chip and Matty Morton’s home where Sean had spent part of the afternoon. Harriman reached for her with his free hand and pulled her to him. He kissed her warmly, " Good evening, Mrs. Nelson," he murmured huskily into her ear.
"Hello yourself, Admiral," she replied, as she returned the kiss with equal warmth. "How’d the tests on the new outer hull go?" She instinctively reached for their son, but Nelson held firmly onto Sean.
"The tests went well, and we leave tomorrow for three days out for further tests…" Sean belched in his father’s ear, and giggled, obviously quite pleased with himself. Brown ooze then cascaded down from his mouth, and Karen quickly cleaned it off with a wipe from the bag.
Nelson smiled at the laughing baby then asked, "A new brand of teether from the pediatrician?"
"Humm? Oh, a Milk-Bone dog biscuit," Karen answered nonchalantly as she turned to finish what she’d started.
"A Milk-Bone dog biscuit…for my son?!!!!!"
"Yes, Harry, just calm down. Apparently he picked it up over at the Morton’s. They’ve just gotten a new puppy and the kids were all playing with it. Apparently Sean got into some of the bags that Matty had stashed for its’ treats."
It was impossible for Harriman to cover his look of absolute horror.
"The only real difference between his regular teething biscuits and this…is that it has a little more dried meat in it. No big deal…"
"But….but…a dog biscuit…?
"Yes, Harry," she replied, sweetly and somewhat exasperated with her husband, "It all serves the same purpose, you know…regardless of whether it says human or puppy on the label."
"But, Karen…" He was still appalled at the thought of his son chewing on a dog food.
"Harriman, I remember the time, many years ago, when Caitlin did the very same thing. We had a dog at the time and she got hold of some of his treats. I was just as upset as you are right now. The pediatrician just laughed and told me not to worry. He also told me to compare the ingredients on both boxes. There’s really very little difference."
At that moment, Karen unpacked the baby’s sipper cup. Sean spied it, and squealing, lunged for it. Karen automatically handed it to the child. He then drank from it thirstily, belched, and smiled. Nelson kissed Karen again, "You know…I’m never going to get a handle on this father thing… a dog treat!!!! Ok…then we’re going into the great room. I think that is something I can handle."
Once settled in his favorite overstuffed chair, Nelson loosened his tie, and unbuttoned his jacket, not bothering to remove it. He bounced Sean on his lap several times, laughing and smiling as the baby laughed back. All of a sudden, as Nelson playfully held the baby over his head, Sean made a face, belched, and spewed the contents of his stomach all over his father. Nelson let out a bellow, and Karen came running into the Great Room. She stood at the base of the chair, and looked at the scene before her. Harriman Nelson sat covered in the combination of materials from his son, and the look on both the baby and his father were so priceless that she started to laugh…. And the angrier that the Admiral looked, the harder she laughed. Finally, catching her breath, she asked Nelson, "Harriman, are you okay?"
"Just what do you think, Karen….Here, take Sean… I need to change."
"Uh, Harry…there’s just one thing…" she struggled to keep her composure but was having a bit of a hard time.
He raised a suspicious eyebrow…"Yes?"
Slowly she said, "There are no more khakis in the closet. You’ll have to use the blues tomorrow."
"What?!!" he roared.
Sean had seen his father’s angry face and heard the angry bellow. The baby proceeded to cry…loudly and with feeling.
"Here," Nelson extended his wailing son out to his wife, "and I had six sets of khakis at last count."
Gently juggling the baby to quiet him, Karen continued, "Three are at the dry cleaners. They can’t get’em here ‘til tomorrow afternoon…their delivery truck broke down. Forget about picking them up yourself…they’re closed now til 10 tomorrow morning. The other two are at the tailor being repaired, remember? And then the one that you’re wearing is number six."
He looked at her in absolute disbelief. Grumbling mightily, the Admiral proceeded to the stairwell, "I need a shower!!! I’ll deal with the uniforms in the morning."
"And that, gentlemen is why I’m wearing dress blues." He then pointed his finger at Chip Morton, "And it’s all your fault, Mr. Morton."
Startled out of his burst of laughter, the grin suddenly faded. "Me, sir?" Chip gulped
"My wife and son were at your house, and that’s where Sean got the dog biscuit that made him mess my uniform!!"
"It’s your fault, and your cleaning bill, Mr. Morton!" Nelson then turned on his heel, and left the Control Room, glancing over and winking at a chuckling Lee Crane in the process. "I’ll send it to your home… the bill, that is!!!"
*Milk Bone dog biscuits are a registered trademark of Nabisco.
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