August is the time for cruising.  Once upon a time, cruising the Med was fun, especially around the French Riviera.  Now the sea is full of garbage, the ports packed with horror megayachts owned by horrid Arabs and eastern oligarch gangsters, while most Italian, Spanish, and French resorts are overrun by sweaty tourists covered in grease with very ugly wives and children.  That leaves Greece, whose Ionian and Aegean islands are still unspoiled except for Mykonos, Spetses, and Corfu.

I’ve been cruising every summer for exactly 60 years, so picking out the best trip among so many is a Herculean task.  Nevertheless, I will try.  There were some memorable ones with Gianni Agnelli in the 60’s, and some good ones with Bill Buckley in the 70’s, a few with some unmentionables, and an unforgettable decadent one with Leopold Bismarck and Mark Getty.  But the funniest of all was 25 years ago, in Mykonos.

There were eight of us: Chuck Pfeifer, a double Silver Star winner with the Special Forces in Vietnam, and a stripper he picked up on his way to join my boat in Greece.  Michael Mailer, son of Norman, Harvard grad and Golden Gloves champion as well as a movie producer and director, with a Californian airhead beauty who had left an NFL quarterback making ten million per year, “because I found out he was cheating on me.”  (When she told us her story we were at a loss for words.)  Then there was Richard Johnson, the well-known New York Post columnist and a very old friend, who is now married to a Richt hofen but at the time was married to his second wife.  And my close friend John Mosley, a black American football player who was captain of Notre Dame, was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, was badly hurt, and now works for the New York Yankees.  John’s brothers were all in the military, and I knew his mother, a very nice lady.  The Mose, as we call him, has been the butt of a lot of jokes, but he gives as much as he takes, and then some.  Mosley is a confirmed bachelor, so we put him up in a single cabin.  I had told my wife that this was a boys’ cruise, and she had given me her blessing.  I brought a blonde London airhead along, one whom my friends eventually named Miss American Express, as she had abused my credit card to an unacceptable degree.

We headed for Mykonos, the sin capital of the Aegean, an island that used to be a whorehouse in ancient times, where returning soldiers would stop for recreation.  We dropped anchor in a bay near the town and were walking to the port, when two New York wise guys wearing skullcaps asked Mosley for the time.  They sort of ordered it, and were quite impolite about it.  Michael grabbed one of them and demanded they explain how they knew the Mose spoke English.  “He’s a Nubian prince,” said Michael.

They seemed nonplussed as Mosley walked over to them, looking menacing.  “Yo motherf–ker,” said John, and we all collapsed laughing.

Later in the evening, we all got back on the boat, but Mosley was missing.  When he finally arrived we asked him what had happened.  “These Greek taxi drivers wouldn’t take me because I’m black,” said John.

“So how you get here?” we asked.

“I jumped into the back of a cab, got the driver in a headlock, and told him to drive or I’d make him my bitch for the night.”

“So what did the Greek do?” I asked.

“He drove,” said Mose.

Later in the week, we ended up in my favorite outdoor bar and waited for my usual table.  On that particular night the waiter running things was keeping it for someone well known.  We asked him what we had to do for it—the girls were getting very impatient—so the waiter in charge, a very gay Mykonian, said we could have it if he could kiss Richard Johnson, a tall, very good-looking blond straight man.

“No way,” said Richard.

“You gotta do it for the team,” we demanded in unison. 

On our last day, I took everyone up to the Acropolis, where we marveled at what the Ancient Greeks had built.  That is when Michael’s California airhead came up with the best line of the week: “Gee, come on over you guys, from here we can see the Hilton.”

Still, it was a great cruise.  It taught Greek racist taxi drivers that not all black Americans are muggers, and a couple of Jewish New Yorkers to ask for the time politely.  I also learned a lesson: Never give your credit card to an English blonde that doesn’t have the same name as a county.