US Navy: Crossing the Equator involves a two-day ritual where King Neptune presides over the transformation from slimy pollywogs into trusty shellbacks. The eve of the equatorial crossing is called Wog Day and, as with many other night-before rituals, is a mild type of reversal of the day to come. Wogs—all of the uninitiated—are allowed to capture and interrogate any shellbacks they can find (e.g., tying them up, cracking eggs or pouring aftershave lotion on their heads). The wogs are made very aware of the fact that it will be much harder on them if they do anything like this.
The Shellbacks retaliate: Wogs are captured and may be “interrogated” by King Neptune and his entourage, and the use of “truth serum” (hot sauce + after shave) and whole uncooked eggs put in the mouth. During the ceremony, the Pollywogs undergo a number of increasingly embarrassing ordeals (wearing clothing inside out and backwards; crawling on hands and knees on nonskid-coated decks; being swatted with short lengths of firehose; being locked in stocks and pillories and pelted with mushy fruit; being locked in a water coffin of salt-water and bright green sea dye (fluorescent sodium salt); crawling through chutes or large tubs of rotting garbage; kissing the Royal Baby’s belly coated with axle grease, hair chopping, etc.), largely for the entertainment of the Shellbacks.
In the end, King Neptune recognizes that the slimy Wogs are worthy of becoming Trusty Shellbacks. The ritual has been played out by navies of most nations for hundreds of years. It’s now part of the lore and both officers and crew aspire to the tile of Trusty Shellback.
There are rankings. A Trusty Shellback just crossed the Equator. A Golden Shellback crossed the Equator at the 180th meridian (international date line). The Emerald Shellback crossed the Equator at the prime meridian.
…She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.
Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights,
Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites,
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!
So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.
“I have no answers, only truths.”