Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand

. . . in all cases man must eventually lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity; not placing it anywhere in the intellect or fancy; but in the wife, the heart, the bed, the table, the fire-side, the country; now that I have perceived all this, I am ready to squeeze case eternally.

In the ’70s and ’80s, a company called Calgon ran some very distinctive ads for a bubble bath product. A woman (always) was having a marginally (though exaggerated) stressful day at work, or at home with the kids, or stuck in traffic, or some combination thereof. She would freak out and scream “Calgon, take me away!” and subsequently find herself in a Greek temple taking a bubble bath.

Ishmael, who inarguably has things much worse on the Pequod, also needs Calgon to take him away. He finds his solace through a less expected agent — spermaceti. Apparently, as the sperm cools, it congeals into globs that need to be broken apart before the sperm can be tried out in the pots. Ishmael, and some of his fellow crew, find themselves sitting elbows-deep at a tub of silky, sweet-smelling spermaceti. Ishmael subsequently finds himself in the equivalent of a Greek temple taking a bubble bath.

Along the way, the chapter gets famously tactile and sexual (and so kind of gross) — for example, “at last I was continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally . . . let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.” I’m sorry to say that I don’t know how this chapter may have been read at the time of its publishing — was it intended to be so sexual, or is our modern sensibility and slang imposing an unintentional meaning?

Are Calgon commercials supposed to be cheesy, or honestly appealing? Are ’80s rock songs supposed to be gross, or honestly sexual? Either way, I aimed this chapter’s song somewhere between a Calgon commercial and an ’80s rock song. The rest should take care of itself.

Chapter 94: A Squeeze of the Hand

When a week of typhoons goes to your head
And brings you down,
When a reckless blood-quest wakes you in bed
And brings you down,
Never fear,
We got a tub of the right stuff!
Never fear,
Squeeze all the lumps from the white stuff!
Never fear,
It’s silky-smooth and the smell
Will take your mind away!

Squeeze the sperm!
And lose the reason!
Squeeze the sperm!
And feel the feeling!
Squeeze the sperm!
And let your worries slip away!

When your cabin-boy goes soft in the head
And brings you down,
When your best friend almost dies in his bed
And brings you down,
Never fear,
We got a tub of the right stuff!
Never fear,
Squeeze all the lumps from the white stuff!
Never fear,
It’s silky-smooth and the smell
Will take your mind away!

Squeeze the sperm!
And lose the reason!
Squeeze the sperm!
And feel the feeling!
Squeeze the sperm!
And let your worries slip away!

(c) and (p) 2010 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea July 30, 2010
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea February 24, 2011

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