Nose Job

Ahab continues to rant on and on about finding and killing the white whale. Nobody on or within earshot of the Pequod can escape his constant bellowing—not the officers, harpooneers, sailors, seagulls, clams, oysters, and algae. Even after everyone has agreed to drop what they’re doing and help him out, he just can’t seem to stop himself.

“ ‘Aye, aye,’ he shouted with a terrific, loud, animal sob, like that of a heart-stricken moose; ‘Aye, aye! It was that accursed white whale that razeed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and a day!’ ”

True, it was an unfortunate series of events. First there was the razeedisizing, which left Ahab walking around on a 2 x 4, and now he sounds like Bullwinkle suffering from angina. The guy’s a wreck. The whale was a dick. He figures if he fillets the whale, everything will be all right. Makes perfect sense to him.

He had worried about persuading the crew, but in retrospect, he pulled it off without too much trouble. “’Twas not so hard a task. I thought to find one stubborn, at the least; but my one cogged circle fits into all their various wheels, and they revolve.”

Excepting Starbuck, whose ball bearings squeaked, stuttered, and pulled to the left; he is like a bad wheel on Ahab’s grocery store cart.

“Vengeance on a dumb brute!” cried Starbuck, “that simply smote thee from blindest instinct.” In short, he says, whales will be whales. Hardly indisputable.

Starbuck might have continued to argue his point were he not infected by a brain-washing substance that emanated from Ahab’s nasal passages. (Weird, but that’s what he said.) “Something shot from my dilated nostrils, he has inhaled it in his lungs. Starbuck now is mine; cannot oppose me now, without rebellion,” claims Ahab. “He drilled deep down,” confirms Starbuck, “and blasted all my reason out of me!”

First mate Starbuck has become a nasal officer. And no amount of Afrin in all the grocery store aisles in all the world can save him.