I have a couple of women friends who are in the last planning stages of taking a cruise. They probably have most of their clothes already packed. Women are always wanting to go on a cruise somewhere. Men, on the other hand, prefer to stay at home. Some of us have been on cruises during World War II, which broke us from the habit.

Iím not sure where their cruise may take them, but Iím sure itís somewhere the palm trees sway gently in the tropical breezes, and the dining room is open 24 hours a day.

The main reason women go on cruises in the first place is to eat where somebody else does all the cooking. Not one of us can blame them for that. Besides, they have nothing to do but relax and be waited on, instead of being waited for.

The only cruise I ever went on was in early 1945, just before the German army threw in the towel. My cruise started in Naples, and zig-zagged all the way to Boston.

The reason why our cruise ship zig-gagged was on account of the German submarines who still had hopes of sinking a ship somewhere in the vast Atlantic. Sometimes, I didnít care.

I really didnít have to take this cruise. I could have flown home after finishing my 50 combat missions in a B-17 bomber. However, I no longer had a desire to look out the window of a plane and see an engine on fire in the middle of nowhere. I had already done that.

The cruise ship I caught was named the USS Mariposa. It could best be described as a floating crap game, with such activity going on in every available space. There were no chefs on board, or exotic food either.

What we had to eat from Naples to Boston was a simple down-home fare, consisting totally of wieners and sauerkraut.

The military, who ran this cruise ship had discovered, after four years experience, that it was much easier after hitting heavy seas to wash wieners and sauerkraut off the decks than it was, say, enchiladas and beer, or the old army standby, creamed beef on toast. Actually, this was not our favorite name for this concoction, which had the same general appearance coming back, as it did going away.

I do vaguely remember passing through the Straits of Gibraltar while gazing over the rail at the blue Mediterranean, the nearest repository for the wieners and sauerkraut.

The coast of Spain was visible in the distance and I thought about enchiladas and beer.

Upon reaching Boston, I decided it was not the prettiest town I had ever seen, but it was at least steady.

It stayed in one place. It was possible to at least focus on something that didnít move.

Cruise ships leave from somewhere every day, but I have no desire to catch one. Besides, I need to stay at home and feed the dog. Somebody has to.

I might even take a short drive and get some enchiladas and beer.

Harry Marlinís column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletinís Viewpoint page. This column originally ran in 2001. E-mail him at pilgrimB17@verizon.net.