International House of Mancakes

Baited by Ahab and reeled in like a hapless, hopeless flounder, Starbuck is screwed and he knows it. He sees the “grim, phantom futures” and the “latent horrors” to come. Not so his idiot shipmates. They have pledged allegiance to Ahab and his mission; it’s time to celebrate.

What follows is a dance party that—little known fact—served as the inspiration for the Disney ride “It’s a Small World.” (The Classics Slacker apologizes if that insipid tune remains stuck in your head for days.) You have your Dutch guy, your French guy, your Icelandic guy, your Italian guy, your New Yorker guy (Long Island specifically), your Chinese guy, your Tahitian guy, your Portuguese guy, your English guy, your Spanish guy, your Irish guy, two African-American guys, and three Nantucket guys, who are designated only by numbers (1st through 3rd).

Stereotypes aplenty. The guy from Iceland is cold, the guy from Holland likes cheese, the Italian lusts after women. And so on.

There’s a lot of action here performed by a lot of characters. How to wrangle them into one chapter?

MELVILLE: Gosh my hand is tired from writing all these long sentences. (He puts down his pen and flexes his fingers.) I know! (An imaginary light bulb flicks on over his head.) I’ll write the rest of this chapter like a play.

Herewith, the Classics Slacker unveils Melville’s never-before-seen first draft of Chapter 40: “Midnight Forecastle.”

FRENCH SAILOR (leaping to his feet): Hey, mon frères! Oui hav thrown our chapeaus into ze ring to merder ze Whale Blanche! But first, we dance! Jig it, men, I say; merry’s the word; hurrah! (They do not move.) Mon dieu, won’t you dance? Come on, baby, do the locomotion! Throw yourselves! Legs! Legs! (To Pip) Pip! little Pip! hurrah with your tambourine.

Pip beats on his tambourine. The sailors commence to dance.

AZORE SAILOR: Go it, Pip! Bang it, bell-boy!

CHINESE SAILOR: Pound away! Make like a pagoda!

FRENCH SAILOR: Hold up thy hoop, Pip, till I jump through it!

MALTESE SAILOR (looking around with alarm): Wait. Is everyone on this ship gay? I don’t want to dance with dudes. (Gazing dreamily at the ocean.) Would all the waves were women, then I’d go drown and chassee with them evermore! There’s naught so sweet on earth—heaven may not match it!—as those swift glances of warm, wild bosoms in the dance when the over-arboring arms hide such ripe, bursting grapes.

SICILIAN  SAILOR (gazing at his crotch): That’s a spicy meatball! I love-a to watch-a the womens to danza. Those-a fleet interlacings of the limbs—lithe swayings—coyings—flutterings! lip! heart! hip!

TAHITIAN SAILOR (writhing on his mat): You dudes ain’t seen nothing like the holy nakedness of our dancing girls. Heeva-Heeva! Bust my coconuts! I’m with you two. I will not do any man-dancing.

LONG-ISLAND SAILOR (gazing lustily at the sailors): Oh you sulkies, do you see any chicks here? Fuggetaboutit. There’s plenty more of us. Hoe corn when you may, say I. Cuz one day, we’ll all be swimmin’ with the fishes. I say luv da-one you’re wid.

MALTESE SAILOR: Well, you have a point there. (All nod their heads and begin dancing with each other.)

TASHTEGO (looking disgusted): Man, these white guys are terrible dancers.

ENGLISH SAILOR (removing his pipe from his mouth): I say, lads, enough with the bloody dancing. Don’t let’s forget a cheer for our dear Captain Ahab. Blimey, but that old man’s a grand old cove! And we are the lot he chose to hunt and harrier him up his whale! (Sings) “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow…” (All raise mugs of ale and join in the singing.)

In due time, everyone is as drunk as a sailor and passed out on the deck. As dawn arises, so does our narrator, Ishmael, who, despite a massive hangover, resumes the tale in the next chapter, titled, appropriately enough: “Moby Dick.”