Shanties, Oh How There Used to be Shanties
Although the ghost of the cantankerous and wizened old sea captain who lives in my attic has given me years of friendship and hijinks (how can I ever forget the nutty time he stole Mrs. Potterworth's sun hat right from the top of her head?), I'm frankly getting a little tired of him now. Captain Housted was undoubtedly a brilliant helmsman in his day, circumnavigating the globe and trading spices and getting into all sorts of grand misadventures, but he has kind of a blind spot in his thinking sometimes.
"Captain Housted," I said to him the other day when he had materialized on the sofa, lighting his treasured pipe, "what is this note from you about how you need to borrow another three hundred dollars?"
"Aye," came his gruff response, "some landlubbing swab swindled me out of my doubloons again, damn his eyes."
I let out a heavy sigh. "Captain Housted," I said, "did you click on another pop-up ad that told you that your eBay account had been broken into and you went to some site that looked like eBay and you gave them your credit card information and it turned out to be a scam?"
"Aye," he confirmed, crossing his legs and eyeing me saltily. "'Twas much like a month ago, but these clever dogs told me my AOL account was about to be closed and I had to proffer my Visa number and expiration date. Good riddance to these lowly thieves, says I."
I tried to be patient, I really did. "Are you sure there's nothing else you need money for?" I asked him. "Is it really just three hundred?"
"Now that you mention it, young'un," he said, puffing away and tilting his captain's hat jauntily over his brow, "I was duped into responding to an electro-mail the other day from one Prince Allyapad. He offered me a deal sweeter than the one I made with the voodoomen of Tahiti in '09, the one that won me the stewardship of the biggest vessel I had yet befriended. Aye, on that day these fingers touched rubies and riches the likes of which you can only dream of, boy. Anyway, this Prince told me that if I just conveyed to him my checking account number, he would venture to deposit---"
"Oh, for Christ's sake," I said to the Captain. "Can you just stick to telling ribald tales of the sea and dispensing life advice from the perspective of a lively spirit and stop getting suckered by every freaking internet scam there is?!"
"Now you listen to me, bucky," the Captain said crossly, "I've killed sharks with my bare fingers and taken more than one sheepshank from the neck of a mate who stumbled upon the wrong kind of high seas villainy, and I don't have to take any bilge from your whippersnapper ways. Now, if you'll just advance me six hundred or so, a friend from my Alias chat room has clued me in to a bounding little caper which should set us both on Easy Street. It seems this fella has a plan to send ten dollars to a chain of associates, through which---"
I just stopped him there. Yes, I'm not proud of it, but I've taken away Captain Housted's internet privileges. I hated to do it and he threw a massive hissy fit, sputtering and stuttering and telling me that if any one of his bosuns had ever had the infernal cheek to utter a mutinous word aboard his ship, they would have been hogtied and sent astern to meet a thorough scabbardlash, but honestly, it seems like we never get into any mischief or use his invisibility to play delightful pranks anymore, and as far as having him guide me through the rocky waters of loving a woman, you can forget about it. All we ever do now is figure out ways I'm going to bail his ass out of financial trouble because he says Yes to every scammer and identity thief on land or water. I've talked to my friends, and none of them have this kind of trouble with their ghosts of cantankerous and wizened old sea captains. Do you?