Recommended wine for today’s entry: Whitehall Lane Sauvignon Blanc. Awhile back, my friend Amy requested that I include more sauvignon blancs and now that it’s warmer, I’ve pulled out my summer beverages. I’m not a fan of the really, really light ones, but this is crisp and lightly oaked and went great with baked ziti last night. It also kept me from overreacting when Demarcus Cousins got thrown to the ground by Cornell’s 7-footer and it wasn’t called an intentional foul. The Web site says, “The 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is a tangy, refreshing wine with aromas of grapefruit, apple and just a hint of toasty oak. It is light to medium bodied and delivers rich and refreshing citrus avors, excellent balance and a clean finish.” Liquor Barn’s rating: 87. It’s about $15.
In one week, I take to the open seas again, and planning for it has me reminiscing about my first cruise.
If you’ve never tried this form of travel, I think you must. There’s a fleeting feeling of camaraderie with the fellow passengers, the food is plentiful and you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. Well, it’s that last thing that makes it the most fun.
But my husband has absolutely no desire to ever take a cruise … he prefers traveling to different places, renting houses or apartments, and really experiencing the different cultures. Then he finds a nearby beach and decompresses. And that is fun, too — but sometimes I just like to act like an immature idiot. So it was a Fun Ship vacation for me.
I gathered my mother, my sister Andrea, my sister-in-law Lee and my friend Jody, and we chose a Carnival cruise, because it was cheap and easy to fly to Orlando and commute over to Port Canaveral. Besides, if we weren’t Fun Ship material, nobody was.
Even before the ship pushed away from dock, there we sat, in a circle of plastic chairs on the top deck. In the center of the circle was a handy bucket o’ beers (I began using my seafaring language as soon as I boarded the boat). What were we doing? Well, while everyone else was lined up giving the traditional bon voyage wave at the rail of the ship, we were 1) making fun of innocent people’s outfits; 2) deciding who we wanted to sit next to at the pool the next day (this was somewhat based on body shape, as we scouted for those who would make us feel better about our aging selves); and 3) carefully selecting a few to befriend.
Now everyone was married except my mother — she is a widow, but was and is in a long-term relationship. So we weren’t looking for love. We were looking for fun friends.
Our first criteria was that they be under 80. That knocked out about half of the ship.
We all agreed that we’d be friends with these three women who ranged from about 25 to 35 and a guy who was tall and nice looking and laughed a lot with his girlfriend while we were stalking him. With that decided, and leaving a few slots open for potential friends who were maybe already in the casino or one of the other bars during takeoff, we then attended the mandatory meeting where they teach you how to properly don a life jacket.
Now I’m not afraid of drowning at sea, but the fact that the man who taught us emergency procedure was either a half-wit or smack-down drunk at the time of departure was a bit disconcerting. So whether or not I know how to properly don a life jacket is still up for debate. We laughed about it and decided that, in the unlikely event we needed to man the life boats, we wouldn’t hesitate to trample this crew member on our way. He’d likely already be on the floor anyway.
At dinner the first night, we were stunned and delighted that our assigned tablemates, with whom we’d dine for the duration of the 3-day cruise, were … you got it! The three fun girls we’d already tagged as potential friends. They were sisters from North Carolina. And one of ’em ate three entrees the first night. We liked her already.
After dinner, with my mother The Gambler safely ensconced in the casino, the rest of us headed for the nearby bar. There was a country music singer in the corner. After his first set, he took a break, then came back and started singing again. A bit tipsy, I sang along (quietly, mind you) with an old Kenny Chesney song, ” … one bottle of wine and two Dixie cups, three a.m. I fell in love …”
I turned to Jody (who hates country music) and said, gleeful, There’s no way you don’t like this song. Come on, really. I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. Well, Jody looked at me like I was an idiot. Maybe it’s because he just played this song fifteen minutes ago. Well, that explains the look, I guess. I am an idiot.
Turns out our little country singer hadn’t turned the page on his playlist and was repeating the entire set of songs again. Yes, he was drunker than me and oh, did I mention that he also happened to be the crew member who had been our life jacket instructor? Trampling actually seemed humane.
Then we met our three friends in the disco, where, just as the music stopped abruptly, I yelled, WHO IN THE HELL SINGS THIS MESS OF CRAP? Turns out it was Prince. Live and learn.
Now, I am not a dancer, but everyone else was having fun on the floor. Especially Lee, until I told her she looked like a frog in a blender when she danced, then she didn’t have fun on the floor anymore. I tried to tell her I was just kidding. How do I know what a frog in a blender looks like? Besides, I couldn’t even see you on the dance floor. I can hardly see my hand.
I still feel badly about that.
At about 2 a.m., someone bought us a round of Red Bull and Jaegermeister. As I found out later, I was the only one who actually drank it. I didn’t know what Red Bull was at the time, but by 4:30, as I was roaming the ship and babbling incessantly, I had a theory. And few friends.
We also met the nice looking guy that first night. He was really funny. When we asked him where his girlfriend was, he told us it was his mom (she looked great) and that he’d just broken off an engagement to a doctor. He said he owned a dot-com business in California and was a part-time J Crew model. You don’t really believe that crap, do you? I asked Lee, because I am older and wiser and have totally made up similar stories to tell to people whom I’ll never see again. He stuck to his story.
Finally at 5:30, we tried to turn in. At 5:33, there was a knock at the door. Our J Crew model was there.
Him: Uh, when you got to your room, was there a phallic symbol on your bed?
Me: What’choo talkin’ ’bout Willis? (Sometimes, late at night, I channel Gary Coleman.)
Him (looking at the bed, where a towel-art elephant was displayed): You got an elephant. I got a … you know.
We pondered potential reasons for this. Finally, because I am Albert Einstein, I pulled the top towel, which formed the ears, off, leaving a trumpeting trunk. Maybe your mom washed up before bed. Dot-com owner, my butt.
I hope you don’t think I’m bragging when I tell you that we were all invited to the Captain’s Cocktail Party.
In general, we had a lot of fun: One of our tablemates won the karaoke contest, beating about 50 other singers. So we celebrated. My mother won money at the slot machines. We celebrated. Jody conned a bunch of guys into “investing” in her as she played slots and when she won, they split the winnings. Except she hadn’t put forth an initial investment. Celebration. Heck, we even celebrated when the country music singer finally got to the third set.
My cruise tip: After numerous beverages, go to the photo gallery and make fun of all the pictures. You should do this late at night so the people don’t happen to be there and overhear you. (I learned this lesson the hard way.)
At dinner the last night, I kept threatening to stand up and say, Is there anyone on board who hasn’t had a chance to meet us yet? I think perhaps I am the reason my mother appreciates bourbon.
As it turns out, we never needed the life jackets (luckily) and our dot-com friend was not lying about a single thing.
Just for the record, as some of our teens are accompanying us this time, we will be significantly better behaved. Dang it.