Thursday, June 6, 2013

we've been sailing with a cargo full of love and devotion

People on vacation fascinate me. I mean, you're on vacation! It's a time to let the thoughts of the real world disappear. Don't think about work. Don't think about school. Don't think of "how on earth are we gonna pay for this fucking trip?" Just relax - in whatever form your relaxation takes. My wife can sit in a lounge chair by a pool for hours and hours. She can also sit in front of a slot machine for hours and hours. I, however, do not have a lot of patience to sit and do nothing or to sit and tap the "SPIN" button on a slot machine for much longer than fifteen minutes. If I am on vacation, I want to be active and entertained. Hang on a second! I don't mean jogging or some kind of – yeeeesh! – sport. I mean watching some sort of activity, like a show, or participating in a game (a not-too-strenuous game, mind you). Or eating. I like to eat.

Mrs. Pincus and I went on a cruise the final week of May. It was my first and Mrs. P's second. (Last year, she went on a 9-day adventure with her extended family. Despite being not invited to go along, I maintained there wasn't a ship big enough to get me to join that expedition.) I wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of cruising, what with all of the recent horror stories of on-board fires, collisions with sandbars and power losses resulting in shit-clogged hallways, but I consented for the sake of my spouse.

We were picked up by a hired shuttle bright and early. During the two-hour trek to New York's Pier 88, we were treated to the life story of the family seated in front of us. Mom and Dad were taking little Billy on a cruise, as he had just graduated from college with a double major and a triple minor in who-gives-a-shit. We also learned that little Billy had Tourette's. (We did not ask, notice nor care.) Then, everyone had to say "Goodbye" to Mom-Mom via cellphone and remind her to feed and walk the dog. (Yes, the ride was only two hours.) I thought, "If this is any indication of what the next seven days will be like, just drop me off on the New Jersey Turnpike. I'll walk home."

Once through luggage drop-off and security, we were forced to pose for the first of many "professional" photos and we boarded the ship – a vessel that resembled a skyscraper laying on its side. We wandered around the upper decks (where we found Waldo). An announcement was made informing boarding vacationers that their cabins were not yet ready, but that the buffet was. So we ate. And ate. And ate. The quantity and availability of food was obscene. One morning, we came out of the breakfast buffet, took eight steps and they were setting up for lunch at an outdoor buffet – and people were already queuing up with plates poised at the ready.

Much to my pleasure, we were entertained nightly by either a slightly-hokey troupe of singers and dancers or some sort of participatory activity (trivia contests, karaoke, Pictionary). On one particular evening, I was awarded the top prize of a shitty bottle of champagne for telling the best joke. (THIS ONE, as a matter of fact.) Adding to our entertainment, Mrs. P and I met a trio of ladies who were jointly celebrating their 40th birthdays and a sweet couple who were young enough to be our children. At one point, they actually fought over which night we would join them for dinner. Two of the three women were indifferent towards the couple, but C. (my wife's newly-adopted gambling companion) dismissively referred to the pair as "Oklahoma and The Blond Girl."

The highlight of the week occurred one evening as my wife and I headed to the main dining room for dinner. We stopped briefly to peruse the hundreds of photographs taken at various points throughout the ship and now on display in cases near the main lobby. Suddenly, screams pierced the low murmurs of the dinnertime crowds. A couple was blocking the entrance to the duty-free gift shop and yelling at top volume. The man, his face screwed into an angry knot, spat obscenity after obscenity at his wife. She returned the volley with words carefully chosen to match his verbal salvo. The longer their fracas lasted the more heated it grew. The surrounding crowds slowed their pace as they neared the quarrelers, but they were oblivious, instead focusing their full attention to the most profane insults they could muster. All I could think was, "They are on vacation. They are in 'relaxed' mode. What's their home life like?" It was another evening's entertainment for me.

Oh, and Nassau is a shit hole.

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