This week, throughout New York City, the fleet was in, bringing with it a flow of warm air and a mini-flotilla of Navy officers and enlisted personnel toSouth Pacific. The sight of around 50 white uniforms crowding theBeaumont lobby one night was a refreshing sign of the season, but some of the discussions I heard as I wafted through the crowd before show-time were not always as gentle as springtime.

Ensign To Female Theatregoer: Excuse me, ma'am, do you know how long this show is?

Female: Three hours.

Ensign: THREE hours? Wow. My buddies will be waiting for me at our favorite bar in Times Square.

Female: Your buddies will still be waiting for you at your favorite bar in Times Square when the show gets out. If not, just move to the next bar up the street. Undoubtedly, they'll be there.

* * *

Petty Officer Third Class: I've never seen a Broadway musical before.

Petty Officer Second Class: It's a little like "American Idol."

P. O. Third Class: You mean we get to text-vote at the end?

P. O. Second Class: No.

P. O. Third Class: Some of the other fellas are going to see a Shakespeare play tonight where you get to text-vote.

P. O. Second Class: Oh, great. Hamlet with a happy ending.

* * *

Lieutenant, J.G.: I read that this show takes place during the Second World War.

Lieutenant: I thought it took place during the Korean War.

Lieutenant, J.G.: It's called South Pacific, not North Pacific. And to think that you graduated from the Naval Academy.

* * *

First Enlisted Woman: I saw this show once before. They did it in my high school. All the female characters in uniform are nurses.

Second Enlisted Woman: Women have come a long way in the armed forces since then.

First Enlisted Woman: But these nurses are all OFFICERS.

* * *

Man At The Beaumont Bar: Young man, I'd like to buy you a drink.

Ensign: Thank you, sir.

Man: In fact, I'd like to buy a round for you and ALL your friends.

Ensign motions to buddies, who in an instant all crowd around.

Man: I said 'your friends.' Not the entire ship!

BRENDAN LEMON is the American theater critic for the Financial Timesand the editor of