CAPTAIN SMITH: We have made tremendous advances in our fight against Berg-12, or, as I call it, “the Arctic Iceberg.” I also call it “the Frozen Enemy.” A lot of people don’t know that icebergs are just, like, a lot of really cold water. Polar explorers come up to me all the time and say, “Sir, you understand ice, icebergs, all this stuff better than maybe even Shackleton.” My great-great-great-uncle, William Cullen, invented refrigeration at the University of Glasgow. Good genes. Perhaps I should’ve gone into iceboxes.
We’re going to be doing a very strong bailout over the next short period of time. Any passenger who wants a bucket gets one. And they’re beautiful buckets: galvanized metal, comfortable handles, no holes. They’re perfect, just like the telegram I sent to the Imperial German Navy was perfect.
The Titanic is too big to sail. (Squints at paper.) To fail. Too big to fail. Some critics from the “Losertania” say it’s too big to sail. I never say that.
Now, you’ve got the so-called experts in the Water Department—I like to say the “Deep Water Department”—predicting we’ll capsize within three hours. But I’ve got a hunch this will miraculously go away in warmer weather, because the iceberg will melt and it’ll “wash through” the ocean. It’ll add another inch or so to the sea level. And then the water currently filling up this ballroom will evaporate because of the sun, that powerful North Atlantic mid-April sun.
We have a stockpile of lifeboats. They’re all for the crew, not the people in the ship’s decks. They should’ve brought their own and not whine so much. We’re recommending passengers wear life jackets, but it’s optional. I’m not going to wear one. You look like a loser who can’t swim. And I was a phenomenal swimmer in school. They say I was faster than Kahanamoku—the great Duke Kahanamoku.
“Any passenger who wants a bucket gets one. They’re perfect, just like the telegram I sent to the Imperial German Navy was perfect.”
I’m hearing amazing things about salt water. Salt water makes bodies float and cleans things out. So if you fall in the ocean, just swallow a lot of salt water, and you’ll float and clean out your lungs. What do you have to lose?
Look, this is just, like, a really big ice cube, O.K.? Every year tens of thousands of people slip and die on ice cubes, but we don’t shut everything down. It’s very important that passengers get back to suntanning and playing shuffleboard and having memorable romantic affairs between the first and third classes. I want us raring to go by May Day, which is a very special, very cherished day to me, because of the Boris Dancing around the Maypoles and what have you.
Let’s hear from Chief Mate Henry Tingle Wilde.
Chief Mate WILDE: Captain, first may I say what an honor it is to watch your leadership in this crisis, guiding our fine ship with the steadiest of hands through these turbulent waters. The morale of our seamen has never been so gay. As for the issue of people throwing themselves overbo—
CAPTAIN SMITH: Like Hank said, everything’s great, no one’s drowning. Questions? Where are you from?
REPORTER: The New-York Tribune.
CAPTAIN SMITH: That’s a beauty. I like to use that one to wrap my fish-and-chips in. C’mon, hurry up. You’re a horrible disgrace.
REPORTER: Thank you very much, Captain. You’ve repeatedly said, “Nobody could have seen this coming,” but why did you get rid of the barrelman in the crow’s nest who could have literally seen this coming?
CAPTAIN SMITH: It’s a nasty question. Why don’t you ever start with “Congratulations, Captain, you’re doing such an incredible job with this, which you were calling an iceberg before anyone else was calling it an iceberg”? And then you can say, “Gee, maybe there’s a glitch or two in the rollout, but that happens every time a passenger liner collides with an iceberg.”
And who put the corrupt barrelman there? The previous captain. We’re going to be giving that a very strong look.
No more questions, even though I’m getting Mary Pickford, Sarah Bernhardt–type audiences for this. I’m, like, a maritime captain, O.K.? I probably won’t even sleep tonight because I’m working so hard driving this ship. Some people say “steering” or “helming,” but I like “driving,” because it’s like driving a Model T, just on water.
(Wrings out wet socks.) See you lowlifes tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll be rearranging the deck chairs. Beautiful, tremendously comfortable deck chairs, which just happen to be made by my deck-chair company.
Teddy Wayne is the author of four books, including Apartment