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Chip Morton's Journal

Skin Deep 4

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like tuxedos. They’re a far sight better than dress whites. But the bow tie wasn’t a clip on and  was giving me problems. I’d had my choice of blue or pink. Definitely not pink. And I couldn’t decide on which to choose, the matching cummerbund or vest.  I guess I’d spent so long in uniform that those kinds of decisions were usually already made for me.

‘Mr. Morton?” a familiar voice interrupted outside my dressing room door.

 “Kowalski? What are you still doing here?” I asked my former, if brief assistant , whom I’d relieved from ‘helping’ me any further with the Santa Barbara Beauty Pageant.

“Oh gawd, sir… you gotta come! And it’s all Miss Lola’s fault…oh, the poor Skipper!”

For a brief moment I had visions of ‘Her Irateness’ as she was beginning to be called behind her back, of taking a pistol and shooting Lee (They were at odds with other right now). Finally I got control of myself. ” Good grief, man, what’s she done to him? Is he okay?”

“It’s not anything like that sir, but please come. Just  go backstage sir. You gotta stop ‘em. The dames…they..they…oh gawd, I can’t even say it…”

“Stop what?”

“I’ll go,” Admiral Nelson said, standing at the door.

“Admiral?” I asked, concerned that maybe the organization committee had fired me and convinced Nelson to take my place as one of the judges; after all he’d been their first choice.

“Don’t worry, son, I’m not butting into your domain, but  I was bored and thought I’d stop by to wish you luck, and,” he adjusted my bow tie, “to make sure you’re all properly attired for the cameras. Haven’t you ever learned how to do a bow tie properly by yourself?”

“Well,” I must have blushed at my ineptitude.

“ Vest or cummerbund?” he asked.


“Here. You can’t go wrong with a cummerbund. Now I’ll go  along with Kowalski to see what all the fuss is about. By the way, has Lee come by?  I know he wanted to speak to Lola.”

“I sure hope not,” Ski muttered.

“Well, that doesn’t bode well for our gallant skipper…”Nelson said.

“With apologies to whatshisname that wrote Alice in Wonderland, “this is getting curiouser and curioser. Perhaps I should tag along. I have a few minutes…”

“No sir!” Ski pulled on Nelson’s jacket, “you can’t  let him!”

“Five minutes Mr. Morton,” one of the organizers popped in. “Blue? Darn, the ladies were hoping you’d  choose pink. It’s quite okay for gents to wear now…very sophisticated.”

“Pink  kind of makes me sick,” Ski said, “reminds me of the pink stuff in Sick Bay.”

“Come along Ski,” Nelson said, “I’ll fill you in later.”

And so the contest began. I wasn’t the only judge, but it was difficult to decide anything.  The finalists were all beautiful women ranging from 18 to 26. How on earth could two men and one woman determine a winner of this little soirée. It’s not as if the girls had taken a math test and you had a numerical score to go by. It was all judgmental. Oh we knew the rules. We knew what we could or could not consider in making the scores. It was going to be a long night. And I was distracted by Ski’s little mystery. What oh what, had our communication’s specialist gone and done to get him so riled. And was it something bad enough to make us need to hire a new replacement. It wasn’t that we didn’t like Miss Hale, but she’d become so…domineering regarding Lee. I was glad she’d kicked him out. It may have been over a trifle, but he needed to come to his senses. She was definitely not the woman for him.

Finally the  scores were tallied and the winner and runner ups announced. Roses, ribbons, and the glittering, if only made of  rhinestones, crown placed on the winner’s  head,  I sagged in relief, anxious to remove my tux and return to the land of jeans and T shirts or of course, when working, plain ordinary everyday khakis.

 “The party's over but I wouldn’t go in if I were you,” Nelson sighed, as I approached the green room backstage. He was leaning against the door and Ski was actually sitting on the floor, his head in his hands, moaning. “In fact, Chip,” the boss continued, “ you might not want to set foot at NIMR for a few days until things settle down.”

Now I was really getting worried.

“No!” I heard Lola yell.

“Hand them over,” Lee’s voice responded, angry.

“Not on your life Mister!”

“Then at least get rid of the…the…attachments.”

“What’s the matter, jealous that Chip’s is   bigger than yours?”

Bigger?  Hah! ”

 “Don’t ask, “Nelson warned me.

“And for your information, Captain, sir,  Angie and I are going to take both cutouts to the employees lounge at NIMR, so there.”

“Oh, no you won't! And to think I was seriously considering asking you to marry me, warts and all.”

“That’ll be the day! What do you mean warts?”

There were scuffling sounds behind the door and I looked at Nelson questioningly.

 “Ever hear of Pin the Tail on the Donkey?” he asked sorrowfully.

“Of course, everyone has.”

“Well, in this case, consider another  kind of appendage….placed by blindfolded  girls onto naked cutouts of…you and Lee. ”

“You’re kidding!”

“Apparently Angie put your head on a Playgirl centerfold, and Lola, well, she used a picture she’d taken of Lee, in the altogether.”


“When he was….aroused.”

“He’s going to kill her!” I gasped.

A series of crashes and things being thrown against the wall put that thought to rest, as the two continued to yell obscenities at each other. Well, okay, not exactly obscenities. The strongest profanity Lola had ever been heard by anyone  to say was ‘you beast!’ and she was certainly using it  now against her former lover. Lee had an equally  difficult time selecting quite the right words to torment her with, after all, he was an officer and gentleman. And real profanity  he used was usually reserved for failed missions or official functions in which he had to wear dress whites.   I did hear him call her a ‘shrew’, however. A shrew that ‘needed taming’.

“Part of the fun the non- finalists had,” Nelson interrupted my thoughts, “or at least what was told to me by one of the girls, was the  snipping out the out various sizes and shapes of um..the well, you know what,  from a stack of Playgirl magazines and using them to pin onto  the target areas, which were covered by construction paper fig leaves. In the end they removed Lee’s taped fig leaf completely and just kept touching  and ogling his ‘real’ thing...the cardboard cutouts the picures were on were life sized, so you can imagine.”

“I guess I got off lightly. At least it doesn’t look like Lee’s going to marry Lola after all. ”

“I’m not sure It’s over, Chip. Even the best of relationships have road bumps.”

You you you you….beast!” the lady in question schreeched.

“That she’s become a selfish, opinionated, domineering sort with Lee, does make me think I should reconsider my advice that he marry her. Don’t look at me like that, son. Call me old fashioned, and I’m not  a religious man, but after all, if they’ve looked as if they were married, acted as if they were married, especially in the bedroom,  well, then…they probably should be.”

Smash! The sound of something hitting the wall interrupted.

“Of course I could be mistaken…”

“Yeah, Admiral, it’s time you stopped trying  to  save Lee from hell, after all, it seems as if he’s already in stepped into it.”

 “Ow!” Lee yelped. “Your aim’s getting worse! And I don’t think the organizers will like the fact that you, of all people, a volunteer, are trashing the green room.”

“Don’t you preach to me, Lee Crane! It’s only Tupperware and stale doughnuts.”

“Well the doughnuts sure didn’t give me this black eye!”

“Oh, stop acting like a big baby. It’s only plastic that hit you. There’s ice in the fridge.”

After their unexpected silence,  we gingerly opened the door. It was hard to notice the cutouts of Lee and I, not to mention the various snipped pieces of male anatomy, pins still attached, laid out in piles on one of the tables. For now, Lee and Lola were in a passionate, even slobbery, embrace amid what was left of mutilated doughnuts, Chex mix and popcorn on each of them, not to mention the floor. A few rolling Tupperware containers were in search of a place to stop.

“Ahem,” Nelson coughed.

“I hope we’re interrupting something,” I added as they turned to his voice.

“I’ll get rid of these, sugar,” Lola said sweetly and picked up the cutouts leaning against one of the walls, as she dumped the appendages into her purse. Taking pictures of one’s boyfriend isn’t unusual, but this cutout of Lee was of  Lee in a standing sideways pose, his arms tied behind him, in some kind of fantasy game they’d been playing, and like Nelson had said, in full arousal, a sheepish grin on his face. She only blushed as she saw me stare at my own ‘double’ as she left.

In minutes Nelson and I were alone with Lee, who had gone to the closet for a broom to sweep up the mess they’d made, and other debris left over from the hen party.

“Well?” Nelson asked.

“I didn’t know about the party, and I certainly don’t approve of them all playing pin the…er….on Chip and me, ” he lowered his eyes, embarrassed when he’d met mine.

“That’s not what I meant, lad. Is it or is it not, over between the two of you.”

“Uh, well, actually, that’s kind of undecided,” Lee began sweeping again, “but at least we’re speaking to each other again…”

“I thought you were supposed to be a beast,” I said, “how is it she’s calling you sweetie now?”

“It’s a hurt-comfort thing, Chip,” Nelson said. “Edith explained it to me. Something usually reserved for fan fiction…women can’t help themselves. It’s the Florence Nightingale syndrome.”

“You’re getting back together then?” I had to ask, incredulous.

“I guess…look, I know you think  she’s not the girl for me  and maybe she isn’t, especially after our  previous argument and all this…but…she makes me happy, well, most of the time… I  just don’t know… and I know you don’t approve of us living together, either, Admiral, but….I can’t help it, I think I love her,” he spread his arms akimbo then used the dustpan to dump some of the debris, “warts and all,” he added for my benefit I think.

“I just don’t want you to be hurt, Lee,” I said, taking the broom from him and began to help out.

“I know. And you,  Admiral? Are you disappointed in me?” Lee turned, picking up the ring from the floor and putting it in his pocket.

Nelson wrapped his arm around Lee’s shoulders, “Lee, I may not like what you’re doing behind closed doors without benefit of clergy, but never feel you could  ever really disappoint  me as the man I’ve come to know and love as my son.”

“This is beginning to sound like a soap opera,” I  piped up and, giving the room a look, returned the broom to the closet and put the plastic containers on the counter by the sink.

“That may be,” Nelson said, “and I include you as well in that sentiment, Chip. Come on, boys. I’m in need for a little late night refreshment.”

“Pizza sounds good,” I perked up.

“Ice cream sounds better, “Lee said, ‘Sides, I promised to pick some up to take home to Lola.”

“You are well and truly hen pecked, Lee,” I sighed.

“Yeah. I know. But…”he wiggled his eyebrows, “there are perks.”

Just then one of the organizing ladies appeared, “Oh, dear. I’m too late….they’re gone…”

“’Fraid so,” Lee said, “Lola’s taken Chip and I home.”

“But where’s the one of…” she stopped herself as she saw Nelson, “…never mind, “she added and darted out.

“Other?” I asked.

“They must’ve used one of the Playgirl models with his own face…who’s driving? “Lee asked, “I’m still squinting out of this eye.”

“I’ll drive,” Nelson said, “If Kowalski’s still here, Chip, have him take Lee’s car back to the institute, and call the motor pool to collect yours. I’ll take you back there after we drop Lee off. Now, let’s get to Coldstone’s for Lee’s ice cream, then we can order our pizza.”

And so as we three began to move as one toward the elevators , I happened to look back and saw Angie. She was dragging something. A large something. A cutout of  yet another Playgirl model, with a pasted head. Only this head wasn’t another of mine.

 I prayed to God the Admiral would never find out the contestants and two of our own staff had been playing pin the ‘tail’ on him.  

But at least as Angie hauled it away, I could see that at least  his cutout still had his fig leaf attached.