Temptation is a funny thing. The more you know you should NOT be doing something, the more you want to do it.

Back when I was young and stupid (for the record, I am no longer young), I played baseball and therefore (according to my big brother) had to chew tobacco. It was bad for me and tasted terrible, plus it made my breath smell bad and yellowed my teeth.

tempt smaller font s1989 another hazard of chewing tobacco

I quit a thousand times, but it didn’t take. I threw cans off of ships, out of my car and down toilets. And then I bought more. It wasn’t until a dentist buddy of mine showed me what oral cancer looks like that I gave it up. But the urge never left me.

Then there is food.

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Food is an insidious temptation because you need it to live, giving the weaker of us the excuse to eat more than we need. I don’t know about you, but any thought that I need to cut down on my eating is instantly followed by an irresistible desire for fast food. It is nature’s cruel joke.

Which brings me to pranks. The scope and variety of jokes being played on people in the military would fill volumes. The fact that the pranksters face the possibility of legal action only adds magic to the acts.

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On my first ship, the mighty USS COOK (FF 1083), the wardroom had a tradition of greeting visitors by creating a “trough” with the vinyl tablecloth and pouring a glass of water in their laps.

tempt trough s1999 trough

It was great fun until the Chief of Naval Operations of an allied navy came aboard for lunch one day. The temptation to “trough” him was almost irresistible, and only through sheer will and silent admonition by some of our more senior officers was an international incident avoided.

When you look back on the temptations you have faced in your life, it becomes clear that the resistance to succumb comes from a sober, logical analysis of the consequences. When the danger or pain outweighs the actions, that little voice we call conscience – or maybe common sense – steps in and saves the day. And we move on, smarter and wiser. It is the fabric of civilized society. It is what keeps us from becoming animals.

Which – by the way – doesn’t help me with donuts, because hey, a guy has to eat.


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