The Zippo Incident…
This little story will be short and sweet, it was so embarrassing when it happened, and I thought I was going to get my head kicked in.
It was during the RNZN’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations – most of us (still in training) had been posted around the fleet to show the flag around the country before meeting up outside Auckland with ships from around the world to enter Waitemata Harbour in full regalia and formation (I was on Southland, F104, at this time – another story to come).
I can’t remember how long the celebrations went on, it seemed to be one alcohol-induced day after another (again, more stories to come), but we were to make ourselves available to escort and show our foreign visitors around Auckland (I can think of better places, but so be it). This particular incident happened when me and my girlfriend were invited back onto one of the Canadian vessels, a Mackenzie-class destroyer, HMCS Saskatchewan or Mackenzie I think, not important. But anyway, we were in the ratings mess having rum and other assorted drinks when one sailor pulled out his Zippo to light a cigarette. Now I was a smoker (well still am) and immediately grabbed it from him and said I would show him a trick with it, I knew a few tricks with Zippos that always managed to impress. Well this one entails bringing the lighter down against my leg which flicks the lid open, and then straight back up against my leg which lights it, really, really impressive…well, normally…on the down stroke, the lid opened, but didn’t stop there, it flew right up over the sailor’s head across the mess-hall and clattered into the fat bulk-head…shit it went quiet…I reached into my pocket and handed him my personal one as reparation.
They all thought it was hilarious.