Ishmael Gets Laid

Lots of couples talk over their plans in bed, and Ishmael and Queequeg are no exception. “In bed we concocted our plan for the morrow.” They have to choose a ship for their big adventure. It’s no small decision; they’ll be spending the next 430 pages on this particular boat. Even so, Queequeg says Ishmael must go ship shopping by himself.

See, QQ has consulted his adviser, Yojo, about the matter. Yojo is kind of like Yoda. Perhaps George Lucas modeled Yoda after Yojo. After all, Moby-Dick preceded Star Wars by 127 years. And the characters look suspiciously similar. Yojo is “a curiously little deformed image with a hunch on his back.”

Yojo doesn’t talk out loud (he’s made of wood), but QQ gets his messages loud and clear. On this subject, Yojo has said something like: “Ship you will choose not with Ishmael, ehm.”

Knowing QQ would never disobey Yoda, er, Yojo, Ishmael heads to the shipyard alone and checks out a few vessels. He quickly dismisses the Devil-Dam and the Tit-Bit, based on their names alone one assumes. And then, like Goldilocks, Ishmael climbs aboard the Pequod and declares her just right.

The first guy he sees hanging out on the Pequod is a dude named Peleg, and so of course Ishmael mistakes him for the captain of the ship. Turns out Peleg and his buddy Bildad are the front men. He has to interview with them before landing a whale-hunting job.

Peleg and Bildad subject Ishmael to all the standard interview questions: Have you ever gone whaling before? Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you like seafood?

Ishmael answers the questions satisfactorily, and so the three of them move on to the next stage: salary negotiation.

Whalemen are paid by getting laid. Or rather, they are ranked by the way they lay. Meaning, the higher your lay ranking, the more money you earn: a lay is a percentage of the ship’s earnings. It’s all very democratic. Naturally the guys on top get the best lay.

Bildad decides that Ishmael is worth the 777th lay. Peleg is shocked by his partner’s paltry offer and a little embarrassed, too. “Why, blast your eyes, Bildad! Thou dost not want to swindle this young man! He must have more than that.” Peleg ups it to 300. Which makes Ishmael a lot happier, especially since he was hoping for 275, maybe even 200, “considering I was of a broad-shouldered make.”

Our hero thinks the deal is sealed, but then finds out that he still has to pass muster with the big boss, the captain of the Pequod: Ahab.

Ishmael hasn’t heard great things about Ahab. But Peleg does his best to quell his anxiety. Sure, Ahab’s been “kind of moody” since the last voyage when a whale “devoured, chewed up, and crunched his leg.” But who wouldn’t be?

Ishmael decides to put his trust in Peleg. After all, Peleg was the one who gave him a good lay.