I’m just a lowly seventeenth-century British sailor, not some fancy-pants seventeenth-century British sawbones, but there’s one thing I know for sure: I would rather walk the plank than suck on a single stinking lime. In fact, I will be giving a wide berth to any and all citrus fruits the Captain brings aboard during this long and arduous voyage, because scurvy is a hoax, and I don’t trust foreign fruit.
You know what I do trust? My own body to protect me. I’m young and fit, and my childhood rickets has almost entirely cleared up. And as far as I can tell, nothing bad has ever happened to a young and fit sailor with just a touch of rickets who heads recklessly off to fight pirates and ghost ships for months on end with nothing for nourishment except barrels of stale, rat-infested biscuits.
So, no, I’m not “afraid” of scurvy. What’s the worst that could happen? My teeth will fall out? My bowels will bleed? I’ll die at sea, and my body will be cast into the murky depths by my equally moribund shipmates, who won’t even have the energy to say a blessing as octopuses and sea monsters feast upon my corpse? That doesn’t sound any worse than a little seasickness, and it definitely sounds better than occasionally sucking on a lime.
Yes, I know there are a thousand stories from old salts who say, “Oh, scurvy is so bad! Believe me, young man, you don’t want scurvy! Oh, the rats swarmed out of the biscuit barrels and dragged off my mate’s body before we could cast it into the sea!” To that, I say: Whatever. Sailing to the edge of the flat earth must have muddled your mind, old man. I’m sure I’ll be fine.
And while I may be fine, what I am not fine with is the Capitan’s new mandate that we must all take this so-called citrus cure. He claims that it’s necessary in order to hang onto our already extremely low chance of surviving this harrowing journey through uncharted waters. He says we must do it for our fellow seaman who truly are our brothers. He says we must do it for the common good. He says it is our noble duty. And to that, I say: Screw. Everybody. I’m in it for me and me only.
Listen, if you want to hide below deck licking limes and then later come above deck to enjoy the sunshine and your lack of jaundice and intact teeth and gums that aren’t leaking putrid black blood, then be my guest. But not even the Captain has the right to make me eat a nutritious and lifesaving fruit if I don’t want to.
But there’s more to this story, my friend, and if you are ready, I will open your eyes to the writing on the wall (literally—I read this on the wall of the ship’s head while I was taking a piss this morning, that’s where I get all my medical information). Consider this. Why would the powers that be insist that the only cure for this supposed dreadful disease is to eat these unknown, untested, and totally experimental fruits? We know that limes, lemons, and even oranges are filled with acid, and is acid not caustic? Is acid not, in fact, deadly when it becomes too strong? Could it be that the acid of these devil fruits is the true cause of scurvy? Does “scurvy” even exist? Or is it all just an elaborate hoax designed to take away our God-given right to needlessly suffer a totally preventable malady?
You see it now, don’t you? Scurvy is nothing more than a made-up, foreign-fruit-induced plague, and I, for one, will not be silent! I will not be a sheep, er, I mean, I will not be a fish! I am a man! A very, very painfully misguided man, and I swear to you that the juice of a lime will never pass my lips—at least until the internal bleeding starts, and then I’m sure I will go along with whatever old sawbones says. And I definitely want access to that new experimental leech treatment.
Read an interview with Kathryn Baecht about writing this piece over on our Patreon page.