Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Grandeur of the Finale

Having made it to the last day of our trip, we woke up slowly and roamed up to the pool area. We stopped to grab breakfast, then went out to our usual chairs on the deck. The Weege and Scarlett decided to get in the hot tub for a while, while I stayed at the chairs to read (By the way, I read five books on this trip.). By the time they moseyed back, these extremely odd people had taken their chairs, despite the fact that I said to them "my friends are sitting there, they just left for 15 minutes to go in the hot tub," so we moved up to the top deck, which was really nice. At this point, UnShy lost his damn mind and came over to us repeatedly saying "Talk to me, don't be shy," except not with any punctuation to speak of, so we agreed that he was in fact a nutbar, and decided to avoid eye contact, although we did watch him walk back and forth ferrying beers to the ubitquious rednecks (who still had their beer cozies! Never fear!) by carrying them on his head. While we were up there, The Weege was keeping a teeshirt on her face to protect her sunburn, but since it was windy, she felt it necessary to put her sunglasses on OVER said teeshirt, which was actually pretty smart but also made her look like some kind of insane terrorist, which prompted Scarlett to call her "a sandanista" and me to refer to her as "FARC." We noticed this interesting headgear when she randomly sat bolt upright, and it promptly reduced us to giggling-to-the-point-of-tears. The DR stopped by at one point to be confused by the outfit, all "why do you need the sunglasses? I do not understand," which actually was the exact response that my mom had when I showed her a picture. He then proceeded to tell us that New Orleans was cold, and did this odd noise that was supposed to indicate chattering teeth but actually sounded more like a car with a loose muffler. Soon after, we moved to the lower pool deck and ultimately inside as it got overcast. The Weege and I headed for the Windjammer, while Scarlett got waylaid by The DR who said he would call the room, so she grabbed some chow and went to the room to wait for the call, only to have him tell her he randomly walked past her room two minutes ago. He had this whole plan about coming up to see her at the room that night if there was no security, which was STUPID because of COURSE there would be security at night, so Scarlett just told him to come by then.

The Weege and I came down in the middle of The DR's attempt to get to the room unnoticed, which was ALSO stupid because there were people milling around, but we arrived at our door only to be told "go away, go away" by a demented-acting Scarlett, so we wandered off to amuse ourselves elsewhere while Scarlett made out with The DR. This session apparently only lasted for like 10 minutes, but of course we had no idea, so we sat up in one of the lounge areas around the atrium and hated Scarlett for a while. We eventually called the room from the courtesy phone to check on the situation and received the all clear, so we headed back and began to attempt shoehorning our massive piles of crap into our suitcases in order to put them out in the hallway to be lugged away for customs checking, et cetera. That pretty much took us until dinner, at which time we headed up to the dining room for the last time of the week!

Dinner proved to be hilarious for several reasons. At one point, The DR came over to tell us how sad he was that it was the end of the week, and informed us that it made him cry like a chicken, which promptly brought the kind of screeching halt to the conversation that probably could have caused a rip in the space-time continuum. We then debated for a while whether that was a Domincan-ism or just The DR talking crazy. (A Google search post-cruise proved that it was the latter.) Then at the end of the meal, there was this huge singing routine, where all the waiters and chefs and whatever the hell come out and sing this thank you song. So they all came out and lined up, at which point our waiter, who was behind us, informed The Weege that she looked like a lobster, because apparently he missed this on, I don't know, every other day of the cruise?? Then the song and dance began, which was hilarious because the recording playing over the whole event was clearly sung by white British people, and all the waiters, who are from all over the world and thus often have heavy accents, were just mouthing along with varying degrees of energy. It was great, and Scarlett and I were reduced to tears from laughing so hard at this spectacle...I assume The Weege was cracking up too but I was laughing too hard to notice.

Promptly after this trek into hilarity, the Oddest Man In The World, also known as the head waiter came over and had the following conversation with Scarlett:

HW: Everybody looking over heeeeere!
S: Why?
HW: You tell me whyyyyyyy!

At which point we cracked up AGAIN because a.) why was this weirdo having this conversation with us, b.) which of the billion reasons people could have for looking at us laugh until snot came out of our noses would you like first, and c.) sometimes you laugh when you're nervous. I think he finally figured out that we were laughing too hard to be expected to produce coherent conversation, so he left, just in time for us to do a round of the after-dinner shots that our friend who had brought us the Bob Drinks was always bringing around. This time, they were in little glass shot glasses instead of the aluminum "Loving Cup" ones, and were helpfully labelled "Shooter," I guess in case you availed yourself of one too many shots and forgot what this teeny little glass was. We then wandered off to the Schooner, where a woman who was INTENSELY annoying and far inferior to our beloved Beatlemania was doing a trivia game. She proceeded to just completely lose the plot - forgetting which answer she was on, forgetting WHICH QUESTION SHE HAD ASKED, and proving completely unable to moderate her volume on the microphone because she insisted in talking in that stupid whisper-giggle that stupid girls in high school us.

After she had finished mangling the trivia, we decided we needed a change of obnoxious woman, so we went to see a lounge singer in the theatre who proceeded to massacre a variety of my favorite jazz tunes and then moved on to permanently damaging more modern music, like "My Heart Will Go On." I am all for swinging stuff and playing with it, but this woman was going so overboard with the melisma, it sounded like she was gargling. Dear Crappy Lounge Singer, Having people compare your singing to gargling is not good. Love, Me. She also had the WORST lounge patter the world has ever seen, and in this case you're talking about an aspect of performance that's traditionally very punny and "ain't I a cool cat"-y and what have you, but this woman my God. Scarlett and I proceeded to mock her all the way through, in order to distract ourselves from the RAGE building in us from her abuse of the music. I'm not sure if we were infuriating the man next to Scarlett or if he was mad about the music, too, but he definitely looked like he wanted to punch something. Once the woman had shut the hell up, all the bar staff was brought up on stage to say bye and be thanked, and the best thing about this was that The Peruvian was having his own adorable little party up there. Everyone else was just standing there or doing tiny little waves at people, and there's The Peruvian, flashing the peace sign and bopping around and generally not being able to clap in time to the music. It was awesome.

After The Peruvian had taken his party elsewhere, we stayed for the finals of karaoke. Scarlett passed the time by telling The Peruvian that The DR was her boyfriend now, because she's a complete idiot and told The DR this, and The Peruvian said he knew (not surprising, since The Peruvian constantly entertained us by having The DR's ENTIRE SCHEDULE memorized at all times, in great detail) and then asked Scarlett if he would see her in another four or five weeks. Neil Diamond had been asked to compete even though he didn't get voted in initially, so we were all excited. We had seen him and the Missourienne in Schooner, and he made us promise we would cheer for him. The Weege and I moved down to be in Neil's cheer section, where we ran into him - he was so nervous! Then the Missourienne arrived right behind him, and announced she'd been drinking since noon, so that was great, too. The Missourienne, The Weege and I sat together, while Neil had to go over to the contestants' seating area. By the way, while the karaoke was going on, Scarlett was up in the balcony still, talking with The DR and apparently even crying, because she is odd. So there's that.

The karaoke started, and although Neil Diamond did not win, he was the most entertaining. He sang "Sweet Caroline" and at the "hands/touching hands" line, he came along the stage and touched all our hands, which of course made all of us crack up, and he even had saved up all their little Royal Caribbean chocolates that get left on your pillow, and threw them into the audience. It was a riot! He finished the performance with - I shit you not - a full split, which was so effing cool, and that was when the Missourienne told us that he'd been an All-American gymnast in school! How cool is that? Like I said, he didn't win, but not because he was bad - he was quite good, but some of the people he competed against were AMAZING. There was this one guy who sang "Unchained Melody" that just...well he hit all the notes, which is a good place to start, because that is NOT an easy song for ANYONE, much less a guy. There was also a fantastic woman who REALLY liked Celine Dion. We saw her (and the Unchained Melody guy) in earlier rounds, and she sang Celine Dion stuff both times...but she was excellent so I didn't mind. I liked her a lot, in part because she was this teeny little woman who looked like she was probably an accountant or something, and here she is totally rocking the Celine. It was great.

That was when I decided to pass out - I had suburned the crap out of my legs, and they were tightening up to the point that I couldn't walk without looking like a complete weirdo, so I went to the room to slather myself with aloe and hang out until I fell asleep. The Weege and Scarlett decided to head up to the Viking, and this was where the insanity began.

So they headed up there, with Scarlett briefing The Weege on the College Roommates Lie which of course we'd been using ALL WEEK, but whatever, so they headed in and grabbed a drink and started dancing. After dancing quite a bit, they flagged down UnShy and asked him for some Jaeger bombs, which he agreed to bring them, but only if they sat in a sort of shadowy corner (basically so no one could see him serving The Weege). They were further convinced to have a seat when the Russian Mafia Dude who had been staring Scarlett down all night went up and requested a total rave-a-palooza of a song and proceeded to ROCK OUT to it up by the DJ, with whom Scarlett had once again been having cheersex with, because she cannot be left to her own devices.

In the meantime, every time Scarlett went up to the bar to buy a round, these officer type dudes (one of whom apparently told The Weege that he was going to be moving to Worcester, for some reason...yeah, I don't know) kept buying their drinks, but were behaving LIKE BOB by not TALKING. I ask again - where did Royal Caribbean find these people? And this time I mean the STAFF, not the insane tourists. Scarlett and The Weege also ran into Minty Guy from Costa Maya, who proceeded to illuminate his own personal level of Costa Mayan drunkenness by starting the convo with "don't think I'm weird, but I think I've met you guys..." which Scarlett was able to clear up, while explaining that they thought he was yelling at us for swearing, which he apologized for. With that sorted out, they were all able to chat a bit and get some more background on each other - he was a really cool guy who was unfortunately going through a divorce and was on the cruise with his family.

The ladies also ran into Texas and Tex...who The Weege promptly tried to start a fight with. Poor Texas just wanted to give them hugs and say bye, but instead, The Weege turned around and was all "so I hear you were talking shit about me" (a reference to a convo Scarlett and Texas had had about how The Weege had been being kind of hermit-y at various points). Interesting note about The Weege - get a drink or two in her, and she wants to fight EVERYTHING. So in any case, Scarlett intervened and told The Weege to shut the hell up, and the crisis was averted, although Texas and Tex probably still thought she was nuts.

So then there was more dancing, and at one point Scarlett looked over at the bar and saw Buttnuts looking at them. He apparently took eye contact to mean "feel free to come over and begin your campaign of weirdness," so he came over and started chatting with them. He started chatting with both of them, though primarily The Weege since Scarlett was still busy having cheersex with the DJ. He was 100% That Guy, because he definitely pulled out his sherriff's badge and showed it to them. Now, to Scarlett and I, that just explained what KIND of douchebag this guy was, but The Weege promptly began panicking internally over the idea that he would arrest her. We explained jurisdiction to her the next day. In any case, this was particularly hilarious because while Scarlett has a definitely uniform fetish, flashing your damn badge does nothing because a.) she is from DC, where everyone and their mother has a badge, b.) she dated a United States Marine who worked security at the West Wing of the White House for two years, and c.) she is currently dating a federal agent (who does NOT work for Interpol, however!). In any case, after The Weege danced with him for a while, the club started to slow down, so the girls started to head back to grab swimsuits since they wanted to take a late night swim. On their way, they ran into the two Bob-like Officer Guys who finally learned how to talk, so they asked for the girls' numbers...Scarlett gave them a fake, but The Weege gave her actual number, for the seventeen billionth bizarre and completely confusing act of the trip. They continued downstairs, with Buttnuts still chatting with The Weege, and at some point, Scarlett managed to fall down some stairs and sprain her ankle. Buttnuts was all "let me help you," picked her up, and then proceeded to start kissing her neck. As she put it, "and I was too drunk to be like ewww weirdo, so I kissed back," which was the beginning of NO END OF TROUBLE.

So I was laying in bed, in my underwear and aloe vera, and in walks The Weege, Scarlett...and some dude I don't know. He sits down and starts icing Scarlett's ankle while she proceeds to flail around and act like a ho (reporting facts). Initially, he actually seemed all right, like he was sort of thinking "all right drunkie, let's get this ankle dealt with and put you to bed," but then he kind of got more boisterous, and at one point thought I was not having enough fun so he decided the remedy for this would be to SIT ON MY LEGS, which OW, and of course he doesn't KNOW my legs are sunburned (obviously, at the first sight of someone with no boobs, I pulled as much of myself under the covers as possible), but...why would that ever improve someone's mood? Anyone? Right then. So then he took his boots off, and that was it for me, because something about the way he took them off just flashed "PROBLEMATIC SITUATION" in gigantic neon letters to me, so I BELLOWED at Scarlett to stop acting like a slut, got dressed under my covers, and stormed out after telling The Weege to hose them down with the shower if they started fucking. I headed for the lounge area and finished my book while thinking murderous thoughts towards Scarlett, and then after maybe 45 minutes tops, headed back to the room, with the intention of beating Scarlett to a bloody pulp if necessary.

Oh but what a 45 minutes I missed.

I came back and kicked over the stainless steel ice bucket in the dark, since the lights had been turned out and all seemed calm, and the noise made Scarlett sit BOLT UPRIGHT, in full freakout mode. And then I get the story.

Apparently while I was gone, Buttnuts COMPLETELY STRIPPED DOWN (Who called it? That's right. I called it.) before being evicted to the room...apparently it took full frontal nudity for Scarlett's brain to identify the situation as problematic. Shortly after he left, there was a knock on the door, which Scarlett assumed was me (but was unable to verify since Royal Caribbean appears to consider peepholes as an unimportant detail), so she opened it to find some random woman on our threshold...asking if her husband was there. Bear in mind that Buttnuts had told us that he was on the cruise with friends, not with his family, and CERTAINLY NOT HIS EFFING WIFE. So the woman looked up at The Weege and informed Scarlett that her cousin had seen Buttnuts dancing with The Weege in the lounge and later come back to our room. Scarlett kind of semi-freaked, told her she had the wrong room, and shut and deadbolted the door. Problem solved.

Except NOT, because a few minutes later there was another knock on the door, and for whatever psychotic Norwegian reason, The Weege INSISTED on opening the door, despite the fact that Scarlett climbed into her bed and was holding her down to prevent her from doing so. The Weege's logic was apparently of the opinion that it would be "better this way," which...okay. If it was the first night of the cruise, this is a whole different situation. We would have be bound to run into them again throughout the week, so yes, clarification and convincing them to not try and kill anyone involved would be good. But we were about FOUR HOURS FROM GETTING OFF THE BOAT, NEVER TO SEE THESE PEOPLE AGAIN. The Weege is both stubborn and made of 95% muscle, so she went and opened the door to greet the wife, who now had her MOTHER with her. They went through the same conversation, and The Weege explained that they danced and Scarlett's ankle got busted but nothing happened, which...not entirely true but we'll take it, and it did in fact make them go away.

So we got to sleep for the three remaining milliseconds we had before we had to vacate the room so they could clean it. This is an interesting system. They take...well basically your check-able baggage the night before and turn the US customs folks loose on it to make sure you're not smuggling Cubans in, and they give you colored luggage tags for this stuff. In the morning, you then need to get out of your room by 8am so they can clean everything (this particular day they were sailing again at 5pm), so you pretty much go lurk around the boat like homeless people while waiting for them to call your bag tag color. The Weege had to go for a separate customs check at around 6:45, so she got up and began DITHERING AROUND, trying to figure out what the hell she needed to bring, while Scarlett and I yelled at her from our beds to just take her BODY and if they needed her other stuff she could come back. She finally did, and it turned out that she did not in fact need her carryon, so that worked out well. At some point, Scarlett thought she heard her name being called, so she bombed out into the hallway with crazy sleep hair and a wild look in her eye and scared the pee out of Super Steward Alex one last time by desperately asking if someone called her name, to which he just replied, "no, but go get dressed," probably drawing his calmness from the knowledge that in 15 minutes he would never need to deal with us again.

So as we sat at the top of a stairwell across from the Schooner (most of the actual seats were taken up by the people who HADN'T been out until 4 am trying to get their asses beat and making their friends want to kill them, and thus got up at a reasonable hour), The Weege turned to me and said, in a perfectly normal volume and tone, "that's the wife." I assumed that The Wife was, you know, out of earshot, but nooooo....she was DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF US, and of course heard The Weege announce her presence and whipped around in MurderDeathKill mode, then continued walking, only to make the turn down the staircase and give ME the look of death. Now, at this point, I'm sunburned, I'm tired, I'm done with Buttnuts and all his attending drama, and this woman is staring ME down when I'm the only one who had not a single thing to do with it and also hated him from the get-go for sitting on my legs and making me feel like they would then fall off. I was about three seconds from just jumping up and yelling at her, "you know what, bitch, I don't have a DAMN THING TO DO WITH YOU, so pack your hairy eyeball away and get the fuck out of my face. If you want to have a stare-fight, take it up with these two dirty pirate hookers over here." But anyway, she left, never to be seen again, so it was all right.

Our color was called pretty quickly, so we got off and went back into the port building from whence we came a whole week ago. Apparently the organization had been vastly improved, with clear signs directing you to your stuff. We found our bags in the red heap, and were adopted by this great dude who was just like "I'ma get you to a taxi!" then flung our bags on a cart and hauled ass out to the taxi stand, at which point he tried to jump the line. It was to no avail, and we wound up standing next to this couple...oh god these people. I can't remember if I mentioned them before, but the female half was Australian and apparently had a successful career identifying people as sunburned, because she stopped both me and The Weege at one point or the other to tell us we were sunburned (thanks, I hadn't noticed) and then to give a lecture's worth of unrequested advice. It was particularly aggravating on the tender from Cozumel, where she went on AT FUCKING LENGTH about how awful The Weege's face looked, like...are you kidding me with this? The kid KNOWS. God. Thankfully these douchenozzles didn't notice us, and our baggage dude got us a cab right quick. While we were waiting for the taxi, The Weege felt it necessary to go into her bag for some reason, and pulled out...A TOWEL FROM THE POOL! Needless to say Scarlett and I immediately hopped on her case about her towel theft, which was odd because TO BEGIN WITH she had brought a towel WITH HER on the cruise, apparently thinking that there would be no towels on the seven-day trip in a floating hotel. I don't know. The Weege then proceeded to try and tip our baggage-schlepper with a pocketful of change, even though we had JUST TOLD HER we would rather overtip him than hand him SPARE CHANGE, so of course he looked at it like it was made out of cholera until one of us scrabbled a twenty and handed it to him. Good lord.

It was in the taxi that The Weege's long slide into dementia began in earnest. We were all SUPER overtired, naturally, both from the adventures of the night "before" and from the accumulated lack of sleep, and when we finally arrived at the airport, we found out that we couldn't check our bags more than 4 hours before our flight. We orginally had planned late flights so that we could do lunch in New Orleans, but we lacked the energy. We plopped down in the airport, looking like a bunch of refugees, adrift in piles of our junk and looking completely disheveled. I got up at one point to see if we could move our flight up...there WAS another flight but we'd have to pay $200+ extra, so it was not to be. Couldn't hurt to ask, and the lady was nice, so it was a decent way to kill 10 minutes. We finally checked our bags and wandered towards the security checkpoint. The Weege was carrying her sombrero on, as well as her purse, and Scarlett and I had pretty standard carryons...Scarlett really just had her purse, since she had checked a bag she carried on the way down. The Weege didn't get the memo on hanging on to your boarding pass, so the TSA lady told her to just wait and not touch any of her stuff until they looked at her boarding pass. She then proceeded to stick her hand into the x-ray machine to get said boarding pass, despite the facts that a.) the TSA chick had just told her to keep her mitts off her stuff and b.) you don't stick your hand in an x-ray machine.

Once The Weege had stopped sticking her hands in TSA equipment and had gotten the boarding pass located and dealt with, we headed for the gate. The one we were loading from had a ton of people in it, but there was this one mysterious gate that was not in use but was COMPLETELY decked out in Valentine's Day colors. It was so odd. In any case, we invaded that area, and I read and charged my phone between attempts to nap and talking to The Weege and Scarlett. The Weege was at the point of not making a ton of sense, and eventually got bored and went to find ice cream. She proceeded to devour THREE GIANT ICE CREAMS during the times we were there, and then mysteriously vanish to go on the internet, because she is addicted to the internet. And ice cream, for that matter. Various people came into our area and then were scared away as Scarlett and I (who were still mostly making sense when we talked) recounted the highlight reel from the cruise, including one dude who bitchily asked if I had just bought Marley & Me, the book I was reading. I quickly decided to hate him.

Eventually, we moseyed over to the gate after Scarlett went to yell at The Weege for being addicted to the internet (I think because she was bored), where we promptly made friends with this really sweet guy. It started off with The Weege coming in, bringing up the rear, and plunking herself down not in the seats next to us, but instead, across the aisle and squarely in the middle of two seats between two strangers. Scarlett and I started with the exasperated explaining to her that she was being weird, at which point the man on her left started eavesdropping on us, clearly smelling crazy on us and being intruiged. The three of us continued the recapping of the cruise, and he was trying to be unobtrustive about his eavesdropping, but eventually just couldn't contain himself and jumped in with the "wait...what happened?" questions. He had that weird Donald Trump thing going on where he's normal looking until he stops making facial expressions, at which point his face kind of dies. This guy was actually pretty good-looking when he was talking and smiling, but then he'd look at his cell phone or something and his face would die. In any case, we told him about our trip, and he told us he'd just spent a week on Bourbon Street but thought we'd had more fun than him, and then this other woman felt the need to ingratiate herself into the convo as we were showing him the fake tattoo on The Weege's ankle. She was NOT as much fun, and basically wanted to get into the convo so she could make disapproving "oh, tut-tut" faces and/or noises. I decided to hate her as well.

We finally got on the plane and tapped out...I read for a while before zonking out, while The Weege and Scarlett chatted then fell asleep. As we were taking off, The Weege felt it necessary to grab our hands and make this totally bizarre wincing face since Scarlett had said she was nervous about the takeoff part of flying. We got to Tampa on time, where I declared Tampa as the new reigning champion of my Favorite Airport Bathrooms list since they were SPOTLESS and awesome, and we grabbed lunch/dinner at Chili's, where we stuffed ourselves silly since we were so hungry. Then we split up the WonderTeam and headed for our respective gates. The Weege roamed around a little, I think to go to the bathroom or the bookstore, while I reserved our spot in line at the gate and chatted with a nice family from New Hampshire who had won a gigantic 6 foot stuffed tiger (which was regrettably getting home some other way) at Universal. The Weege came back shortly and immediately instigated a near-riot by starting to babble about why we had a delay. Now, our flight was supposed to get in to Manchester a 10:30pm, and that is definitely in the range of flight times where a delay = panic, so of course everyone was all "WHAT DELAY?" while I pleaded with The Weege to just shut up and stop panicking everyone. She finally stopped with the delay talk after saying "but [Scarlett] is already ON the plane," at which point I reminded her that we were on DIFFERENT FLIGHTS TO DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. You see what I mean about the overtiredness.

We flew into Manchester with no problem, and waved at The Marine, Diamond Lil, and mini-Lil's house (read: waved out the window without any real concept of their actual geographical location) on our approach. We got inside, collected our bags amongst the most irritating people in the world (mostly bad parenting issues), then headed out to the parking lot to drive home. The Weege sort of zoned out until we were on 495 or so, then tuned back in and we chatted the rest of the way home, about the Phenomenon of Scarlett and my family and stuff like that. We got to my parents' house around 12:30, and Ma had hung a banner in front that said "Welcome Home Girls!" which I thought was sweet and The Weege reacted to with "I don't want a banner, oh my god," which defied explanation, particularly because she said it in a tone that suggested she thought enemy spies were after her and the banner would alert them to her location. PLUS, the next time I saw her, she commented on how cute the banner was, so I guess it's yet another "I dunno." I drove home and saw Speed, which was so, so awesome, and that, my friends, was the end of the Cruise of Legend.

Scarlett and I saying bye at the Tampa Chili's...unfortunately there are no post-cruise pics of all three of us! We also sucked at taking pictures, so there's that, as well.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In Which We Triumph Over The Restaurant That Ate Natalee Holloway.

In Cozumel, we were tendered again, but it was the "free-for-all" method of tendering, so there were no tickets to get. We all went for breakfast, then The Weege and I split off to check our email, since Scarlett was waiting for The DR's call in order to coordinate the adventures in Cozumel. The game plan was to meet at 11 in the area where they boarded the tenders from, and the path to the meeting was fraught with entertainment since we ran into the dude who Bess (from yesterday's adventures) had latched onto like a lamprey and molested the day before, who of course said hi to us all "remember me? How is your friend?" which needless to day reduced us to paralyzing giggles. In any case, it was a brief event and we met up with Scarlett to get on the tender, which The DR was also going to be on. He proved to be sailing that day in full on spy mode, with a Compass (the activities flyer I mentioned early on) in hand and his sunglasses shoved down on his face, sitting crumpled into a midget ball, as though this posture and behavior didn't make him nine hundred times more suspicious than usual. We wanted to play along with this, especially given his crippling fear of Interpol, so when Scarlett pointed him out, I just nodded, whereas The Weege did not get the memo and proceeded to ask me what was going on repeatedly and obviously. "WHAT? I DON'T SEE WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!"

So we got off the boat and The DR proceeded to completely blow his cover by then shaking hands with every single one of his Mafia friends. I don't know. We then walk down the beautiful streets, looking across to the seawall and being harassed by hola-ing Mexicans. We were headed for the notorious Carlos & Charley's the site of the infamous initial Scarlett-DR hookup.

Upon returning from her first cruise, Scarlett was detailing the events of the cruise to her family when she mentioned she had gone to Carlos & Charley's. Her mother promptly freaked out, and told her "that's really smart [Scarlett]. That's where Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba." Scarlett identified her mother's tone as being "like the restaurant ate her." Moms are funny.

So, when we arrived at the Den of Iniquity and Also Lots of Whistles For No Good Reason, The Weege wanted to scope out the stores we had walked past, so I agreed to go with her, since I wanted to check out the shopping, too. So we left Scarlett and The DR to their own devices and went roaming the streets to check things out while Scarlett began the long process of fending The DR off through lunch and some margaritas.

The first place we actually stopped was a jewelry store, where I was sort of looking for something for the female members of my family but instead found this awesome little silver shark for Speed. I thought it would be a fun thing for his keychain. I bargained the guy down considerably - he wanted $45 for it initially,'s an inch long, dude - and passed on SEVERAL offers of tequila shots, because it was 11 am for God's sake, but I will also note that I would support that kind of sales tactic in any number of everyday retail stores. We also checked out sombreros, because The Weege's school spirit week was coming up and there was apparently a Hat Day. We had a lot of fun wandering along, and checking out the cool stuff - there were a lot of leather cowboy boots that I wanted HARD but they were too expensive. I bought a tanzanite and coral pendant to match the ring I bought in Costa Maya, we bought some true Cuban Cohibas and a hot sauce bottle wearing a sombrero and Mexican shawl for Superfly, a ceramic lizard that hangs on the wall (for out in her garden) for Mom, a pair of flipflops to replace my FAVORITE silver and white butterfly sandals that I broke and was wicked pissed about, and we wound up going back to the scene of the sombreros to buy a GIGANTIC purple and silver one for The Weege. We also hit on the idea of getting The Weege a henna tattoo of a heart with some random guy's name on it, with which to horrify my mom. We came up with a whole game plan, too, like how far away I should stand so when Ma tried to hit me I would be out of range, et cetera. Good times. Unfortunately we completely forgot to show her when we returned home for just long enough for the thing to start fading and thus be unconvincing. Dammit. We chilled out for a little bit by this funky fountain area and just people watched a little bit, then headed back to meet up with Scarlett and The DR.

We ran into them maybe a block away from Carlos & Charley's, as they were on their way to an internet place. The DR, as astute as ever, actually asked The Weege what was wrong with her face, which of course sent her spiraling back into her self-conciousness about it, while I just pondered how a person got that dopey in the relatively short period that he had been on the earth. Now granted, this was a particularly odd day for her face because it was JUST about to peel, so whenever she would move her lips to talk the skin would pull into wrinkles, however, WHO SAYS THAT? God. We agreed that we would reconvene at C&C's, where The Weege and I were going to have lunch. The DR and Scarlett headed off for the internet place, where she tried to kill time and avoid going to a hotel with The DR, which he was really pushing, and of course they ran into another eight billion people from the ship, all of whom recognized both parties. While The Weege and I had a delicious meal at C&C's (while fending off the shot girl who was both really insistent and really effing annoying), Scarlett allowed The DR to convince her to go to a hotel "just to talk," because she is a moron. A moron who I love dearly, but a moron. In any case, said hotel was apparently complete foul (surprise!), so Scarlett now had the added duty of trying not to touch anything and thus contract gonorrhea or whatever the hell else, this on TOP of making sure The DR didn't succeed in molesting her, which WHAT DID SHE EXPECT. Sigh. So eventually The DR has to head back for the ship, at which point Scarlett sets out to find us.

We had already left C&Cs, what with not knowing about the plan to go to the Skeeviest Hotel in the World (I'm surprised there weren't one-legged dogs THERE, too), and were again roaming the streets. The Weege apparently had not been paying attention, and thus was all "let's go find them! Where is the internet place," and then would not listen to me when I explained that there were zillions of them until I pointed out the first four signs. We wandered around until we got bored, at which point it was relatively late. The Weege was concerned about Scarlett being lost and unable to find her way back, at which point I explained that Scarlett and I were combat buddies and if it was I who had vanished, she would also expect ME to get my stuff in gear and get my Voting Adult Ass back to the ship. Meanwhile, Scarlett ran into Texas in Senor Frogs (where she'd gone to check if we were there), who promptly had a coronary over the idea of Scarlett being alone in Cozumel, what with all the knife fighters and pirates on the loose (clearly, Texas is BOTH of our moms at heart). Scarlett went in and had a drink with Texas and Tex, and then danced to "All Night Long" and spotted Bess's friend AGAIN who apparently was stalking all members of that exciting party, since Nancy and George ran into us later on in the day and said they had seen him about nine places, too. It eventually was time to head back, and Texas INSISTED not only on personally taking a cab back to the pier (which was right down the street but whatever), but also insisted on Scarlett's going in the cab as well. They all headed back to the ship, where Scarlett was thwarted at the door by her SeaPass card refusing to work AGAIN (third time this week) but eventually got a new card and got in the room to make sure we were there and not dead in an alley. She took a quick trip up to the Solarium for food, and then she came back and we all had this EXTENDED period of sloth (SPEAKING of Sloth, we kept seeing this dude who we nicknamed Sloth because no shit he looked exactly like Sloth from The Goonies, only with less scary. You wouldn't think you would find this often, but there he was.), where we were unmotivated to do anything more taxing than watch Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby, which was about the funniest goddamn thing I have seen in a long time. While we were chatting and laughing at the movie, the Great Peeling of The Weege happened. Basically, her whole face was ready to go, so the whole thing came off in giant pieces of skin. It was kind of fascinating, and she looked about a BILLION times better (she lost that weird granny wrinkle thing she had going) although still sunburned. Oddly, though, she then proceeded to complain MORE about it, which was confusing since Scarlett and I assumed that that kind of cathartic, literal cleansing would HELP the situation rather than worsen it.

Scarlett decided to get dressed for the formal dinner we had missed during the movie anyway, so Scarlett and I headed up to the Schooner and listened to our favorite game host, Beatlemania (you're only confused about that alias because you didn't see his hair, because...seriously.) walk some people through a TV trivia game. Now, let's just talk about these goddamn people for a second. These are the people who are ABSOLUTELY convinced of their own all-knowing-ness and their endless fantasticness, when in reality they were getting all riled up over winning a teeshirt for properly identifying the theme song to Gilligan's Island. You know these people? Lots of "OH! I THOUGHT I HAD THAT ONE HA HA HA" type comments and generally douchey behavior geared towards convincing people they were cool. These are the people who think that going on cruises is on the same plane as owning your own continent-sized yacht, you know? So anyway, Scarlett and I "played along," by which I mean we chatted with each other over which song we thought it was, then occasionally got overexcited and yelled the answer. We wrapped up that session by getting really excessively overjoyed about the theme song for "Charles in Charge" and singing along, then heading for the theatre, where we saw about 2 minutes of a show so godawful that we left almost immediately and which I have completely blocked out. Seriously. When I was talking about it with Scarlett I thought it was an entirely different show because I could not remember this one. We did, however meet two people who would enrage me in the near future - one was this random lady walking around with a GIANT can of Fosters who sat down next to me and sort of drunkenly babbled about what she'd been doing for the past couple of hours, and the other was the Navy Guy's wife (from Costa Maya), who was drunk to the point of bellowing and waving her arms around. During the show. When nothing was happening. It really only took a mutal death ray look before we decided to flee for the festivities ongoing in the South Pacific Lounge.

....Which were an abomination. It was a battle of the sexes game, and I wound up being INFURIATED because the women were not only losing, but losing by being IDIOTS. Seriously, it was depressing. I think this one goddamn game set Women's Lib back about nine hundred years. I remember two of the challenges that were particularly aggravating...number one was making a balloon animal, some kind of little dog, right? So the hosts gave these people a balloon, and one of them showed them how to make the little dog, and the contestants had to remember it and replicate it. The women made a hot dog, a hot dog with a weird bend in it, and a hot dog with a loop at the end. This was when my rage started making the lights flicker. You can't even bend that shit a little more so it looks like you're, you know, SENTIENT? Fucking ladies. God. The second challenge was making a paper airplane. I'm sure you can see where this is going. Had I known the steaming shitpiles that these women were about to create, I would have wadded up my piece of paper and thrown that, and I STILL would have beaten the very PANTS off of every single one of these dumbasses. They all made things that only very slightly resembled airplanes, and all of them took a nosedive and crashed, including one that did a loop and went BEHIND THE WOMEN so it actually had negative distance traveled. That's not a battle of the sexes, it's a battle of a bunch of functioning adults who don't need to wear diapers or have food wiped from their chins in public against driveling idiots with about three brain cells amongst them and who probably CANNOT READ. Oh my lord. Needless to say, both Fosters and Navy Guy's Drunk Wife were competing, and the latter was dressed in a red formal ballgown that she definitely stole from a high schooler going to JUNIOR prom, topped with a purple hippie scarf, for lack of a better description. And her hair was a frizzy, psychotic mess, so the formal gown looked EXTRA weird. I hated her on sight. I hated Fosters less, at least until the results were read, at which point she let out a GIGANTIC "woo!" in response to the host saying the women had won only 20 percent of the challenges. O. M. F. G.

While I fumed over how much I hated these people, we went to the theatre to catch the extremely adorable and less-angry-making Love and Marriage game, which is basically The Newlywed Show but in real life. Scarlett left for a while to go to the bathroom, and reappeared to announce that she had yelled at The Weege, where apparently the gist was that The weege was being a wuss about her face and should come out and enjoy her damn cruise because she paid for it so she may as well not sleep the trip away. The Weege's point was of course that her damn face hurt (and also apparently that it looked wierd, which it DIDN'T anymore, so that hurt her credibility a little). They were both about equal portions of right, so I kind of just left it alone. We then watched the Love and Marriage game, which involved one half of a selection of cute couples (of which Neil Diamond and the Missourienne were almost one!) being asked a lot of questions by the equally cute cruise director in the absence of their significant others, then seeing how the answers synched up. The highlight was probably the response of the male half of a couple that had been married 50 years to the question "who on your wife's side of the family would you least like to be stuck on a desert island with?" He promptly answered, "that would be my brother-in-law, Chippy." When the cruise director asked him what was so bad with the brother-in-law, he just instantly replied "Because I think Chippy's a crook" in this awesome tone of "I speak facts. *pause* I hate that dude." It was pure comedy. As we left, Scarlett became enraged by these older women hugging The DR, and also by the audacious move of one woman, which was to kiss The DR. This woman has since always been referred to by Scarlett as a cougar, which I do not understand and probably never will, so if you want to know, you best ask her yourself. Scarlett proceeded to be extremely annoyed by this at a high and drunk volume ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE ROOM, despite my repeatedly pointing out that the women were the type of sad people who are too self-concious to have fun so they come on cruises to give themselves permission, and that was probably the wild and craziest thing they had done all week.

Upon reaching the room, we lured The Weege out of her bed with the promise of food - there was a midnight buffet going on in the dining room, so we all headed there. Unfortunately for EVERYONE EVER, there was a line, since the doors had not opened yet, so Scarlett chose this as a good time to antagonize The Weege about her face and resulting hermit-like behavior. There were these two gigantic ladies sitting parallel to us on this little ledge, and they were not-so-subtly eavesdropping on us by staring directly at me (sadly, this was not the last time on the cruise that I would be a victim of a mis-directed staredown intended for the two dingdongs I was travelling with...THANKS GUYS), while I'm standing there allowing the bickering to erupt around me before stepping in and saying "have you considered that you may both be right?" which stanched the blabbering for maybe 30 seconds before it started again. Thankfully the doors opened soon, and we had a great meal, which was beautifully presented, with food sculptures and a really beautiful spread. We then headed back, just in time for Scarlett to get a phone call from The DR and act completely cracked out about it, and then passed out to rest up for what we did not know at the time would be an epic, epic last day.

This is actually from the first formal night, but there's always room for cute pictures!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Mexican Wheelchair

In Costa Maya, we split up into two groups, since Scarlett had already been on the tour of the Mayan ruins that The Weege and I wanted to do. And thus the day began.
The Weege and I got moving pretty early since we'd spent the entire cruise to date saying "hey, we have to sign up for the ruins tour" and then forgetting to do so, so we wanted to make sure that we would be able to catch one of the non-Royal Caribbean tours in some semblance of reasonable time. We went up to the Windjammer for some breakfast, where we were able to look out over the rainforest-y areas along the coast, and check out the Mystery Cruise Ship docked next to us (it was some kind of foreign ship we couldn't identify). We walked off the boat and down the seven billion miles of pier to get to the orgy of Mexican consumerism that awaited us at the end. Some of you may understand how I get about large crowds, especially when said crowds are comprised of the kinds of morons who stop dead in their tracks, effectively bottlenecking the entire entrance to, you know, MEXICO, because they can't figure out that the appropriate place to read a map or decide what to do is not the MIDDLE OF THE WALKWAY, so I got kind of scary and bullish and dragged The Weege through to the clean, demento-tourist free air, where we were promptly accosted by nine hundred Mexican men, all of whom were saying "hola ladies, come buy something nice for yourself? Something nice for your boyfriend?" All Mexican salesmen were like this, which was kind of cute and charming once you realized you could ignore these people and they weren't going to chase you down the street (for the most part). The Awesome Mexican Salesman Dude of the Week Award definitely went to this one guy who entreated us to buy something nice for our EX-boyfriends, which I thought was pretty excellent. God only knows what he was selling in there.

We went right up to a kiosk and a nice guy told us the tour ran $45 a person (which was about what it would cost to go through RC, so we were okay with that) and took about 3 hours. Presumably since the ship was docked instead of tendered in this port, we actually had a lot of time - the boat didn't leave until 6. So we handed over our money and he gave us tickets and instructions to come back and see him in 20 minutes, since he needed to rustle up a driver. That made me mildly nervous, but I evenutally decided that having someone steal our $90 was better than having them steal US and either kill or ransom us. Interestingly, this was one of the few things that The Weege did not get all weirdly paranoid about. We headed over to the shoppy-shop area, where there was more hola-ing and more stuff to buy, and I bought a pretty yellow dress with emboidered flowers. The stands were actually pretty cool - lots of pottery and these dresses just hanging from the rooves - although rife with assorted inappropriate crap that I couldn't imagine anyone who hadn't recently married a close relative buying. On the other hand, imagining rednecks going back home with a twisty Corona bottle with a pair of clay Mexicans having very flexible sex attached to it thinking it was the funniest goldurn thing they'd ever seen did give me considerable entertainment, and filled the times where I was avoiding making eye contact with the shopkeepers lest they try and sell me more crap.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Scarlett tried to decide what to wear on her pseudo-date with The DR, which mostly meant that she danced around the room whild singing to herself. When we did the pre-blogging recap, she felt it necessary to list in detail what she wore, so I will do the same: red and pink bikini with little beads on it, a jean skirt, and brown espadrilles, and she carried a tee shirt in her purse. I'm sure your lives are better for having this knowledge. She then headed up to the pool deck and hung out for a little bit, which was apparently not that great since there were mostly little hoppy children shrieking around, which helps no one. So she went to the Windjammer for lunch and was accosted by one of the Angry Royal Caribbean Female Staffers who told he she needed to have a shirt on to go in there, so she shirted up, then headed in, where she was then stared at creepily by an odd staffer and then by UnShy who wanted to know where The Weege and I were and also to inform Scarlett that everyone would be by the pool that day. Having run out of conversation, he then went away, to the relief (probably) of all involved. She then proceeded back to the room for more aimless dancing while waiting for The DR to call and set up a meeting point. Regrettably, The DR was not very bright, and decided that the best idea would be to arrange to meet at these trolleys which run up and down the pier, apparently not understanding that trolleys move. Naturally, the excecution was botched, wherein Scarlett had used her logical reasoning skills and gone way the hell down the pier to the only trolley that was STATIONARY was parked, while The DR waited at the trolley pickup point shortly off the boat, thus demonstrating that he did not, in fact, understand that whole part about trolleys being mobile. Luckily, logic prevailed when the lightbulbs went on at either end of the pier and they both started walking towards the trolleys they had respectively NOT chosen initially, and met in the middle, whereupon they headed for the shops and The DR used the excessively odd word/sentiment choice of telling Scarlett "I feel like big man when I'm with you" which made no sense but really was no more bizarre than the rest of the stuff he said over the course of the week.

After I bought my dress, we decided to head back to our friend at the kiosk since a.) it was about time, and b.) the woman I bought my dress from was extremely aggressive and wanted to sell The Weege "very sexy dress" like you would not believe. Very dedicated to boosting The Weege's foxiness quotient, this woman. Once she pulled down a pant suit with a very large crocheted acreage, we both kind of thought "right. not." and made our excuses, although we did have to SWEAR we would come back to see her and buy very sexy clossing for The Weege on our way back before the woman looked like she wouldn't chase us. We met up with the Kiosk Friend, who took us around to the back of the shops where the parking was, where we walked past several big tour busses and vans to arrive at.......a small red car. This was one of the things The Weege was nervous about, but I felt that if someone wanted to kidnap us they would be shadier about it and not have a kiosk. There was also another pair of ladies in the car with us, one of whom was from DC and worked for the State Department, and she was with her mother, who I think lived somewhere else, but was awesome, as you will see later. So we all packed in the car, and proceeded to set out for the Chacchoben Ruins, which have remarkably only been...known about, I guess, for something like 4 or 5 years. And if you check out that link, you'll understand why that's doubly amazing - they are ENORMOUS, so the idea that something on that scale could just be hanging out in the jungle without notice is pretty cool. We drove to the ruins at about 150 kilometers an hour, which would have been a lot more horrifying if everyone else wasn't driving the same speed, and the driver was this really sweet, great guy who gave us some info about the area and answered every single one of our dumb tourist questions. He was also very cheerful about pointing things out en route, i.e. "that place, it has crocodiles. We can stop on the way back."

We arrived and hopped out, and spent about an hour roaming around the ruins by ourselves, having eschewed the services of the guides, who were available at about $35. Per person. Yeah, no thanks, Ruins People. The ruins were, as we had guessed, really one of those things where the oldness and still-standing-ness of them is the main point, and walking around under the canopy of the trees, and touching the ancient stones that made them up really got the meaning across as best as any guide could. Shortly after hiking our way up a path to a pair of ruins atop a big hill (that may or may not have been and Official Path - we kind of looped around a back way), we ran into the DC woman and her awesome mom, who had just come up another way. The mom was probably in her eighties, and looked quite frail, but when we ran into her she was kind of like "damn, I'm hot. How about this humidity? Good way to break in my new knee." I'm just saying, it takes a special kind of lady to get a knee replacement and then not even flinch at the idea of hiking up ruins in Mexico. Good on ya, DC Lady's Mom. We headed back, apparently completely missing Neil Diamond and the Missourienne - they saw us but we were far afield of them and they didn't want to be weird by bellowing across the open space. I picked up some cool figures of Mayan warriors for Speed and Dad, and then we sat down to have a soda and water. The Weege was resisting consuming pretty much anything in Mexico because of the usual hyper-paranoid DON'T DRINK THE WATER hysteria, which apparently, at least in high school has been expanded to include not eating meat or bottled water, either. Yeah, I don't know. Our driver came over and joined us at the little cantina and chatted while we waited for the DC Lady and her mom to rejoin us, then got back into the car with it's sweet, sweet air conditioning, and headed back towards Costa Maya at the same speed as before.

Already back at the port, Scarlett and The DR were entertaining themselves by roaming around to the shops until they decided to go to the beach, which of course meant that more insanity ensued. The DR asked some folks about how to get there, and then they took the same general "possibility of kidnapping" route towards the back of the shops to catch a cab, at which point The DR immediately latched onto Scarlett like some kind of crazed octopus. After fending him off at least so there didn't wind up being baby-making in the cab, they arrived at the beach town and started walking endlessly through an area noticeably devoid of beach. They finally found it, and to Scarlett's disappointment this was not a Grand Cayman style gorgeous sparkling beach, but instead was grubby and populated by one-legged dogs. I didn't see it, I'm just reporting the facts. They stopped by a Corona Dispensing Establishment of some sort before walking to find a place where they could at least sit down, if not actually lay out or do any of the other things you would associate with tropical beaches, and once they had popped a squat, The DR offered up the highly entertaining line "why on the ship you look like you want to attack me and out here when we can do something you are so different," to which the answer is presumably obvious. As Scarlett put it: "to which I wanted to be like 'well duhh it's just a game,' but I just smiled and took a swig of my beer," and as I will add: "[DR], perhaps you should not hang your romantic future on drunken women on cruise ships, no matter how crazy they act." After a while of chatting and making out, they headed back towards the cabs, being hailed by the various people from the cruise who The DR knew, because he was pretty much in the Mafia. I am not sure I'm kidding about that. Most of his time on the ship, while not being attacked/accosted by Scarlett, was spent shaking hands with assorted mafioso types and old biddies, and he's generally known by everyone, but not in that "hey, dude who serves me booze" way, but more like that creepy "those people totally kill people for a living" way. The recognition promptly activated the Paranoia Sector of The DR's brain, and he began briefing Scarlett on her cover story, which was that she worked on the boat in the Kiddie Corner. This was the lamest story ever, and also not The DR's first foray into intense paranoia, as he had decided at an early date that Scarlett's Actual Boyfriend worked for Interpol and thus would be able to hunt down and kill The DR. You can insert your own snide comments about how perhaps if he thinks it will result in his death, The DR might want to STOP MESSING AROUND WITH SCARLETT. As the cab was pulling away, The DR realized he had lost his wallet, and instead of thinking the rational thing (that being "my wallet is lost, because I am AT A RANDOM BEACH IN MEXICO") he decides that they need to go back and find it. He wound up going into the little Corona Dispensery they had visited before and asking about the wallet, at which point someone COMES UP WITH IT, and The DR pays them and leaves. Because he is in the Mob.

In any case, they get back to port, and The DR heads back to the ship while Scarlett decides to do some shopping but instead runs into The Weege and I, where we have been hanging out at a little cabana bar since returning from the ruins.

And now we return to black text since the stories have rejoined, and also to add emphasis, because in a short while something awesome will happen. So, The Weege and I were hanging out, ruing the decision to not bring bathing suits because there was this really cool pool/bar thing in the center of all the shops where you could swim right up to the bar and then (presumably, although it looked like most people were sticking close to the bar) float around in wonderful Mexican bliss with your refreshing beverage and think about what a lucky bastard you were to be in Costa Maya with your daquiri. In any case, we were chilling and people watching while buying beers and margaritas from these two nice though low-key Mexican guys. The three of us hung out for a while, and then were joined by these other girls who we would see around the pool deck primarily, but who also seemed to turn in around the same time as us (i.e. usually pretty late), so we'd often have in-transit stairway conversations with them. So they pulled up to the bar and we all started chatting, which needless to say thrilled the bartenders who now had not three but SIX American girls hanging out with them. This is where the awesomeness begins, and for this reason I will quickly name our soon to be notorious friends Nancy, George and Bess (from Nancy Drew, DUH. And George is a girl).

I missed the actual source of the fun when I decided to just go hit up a couple stores since we were clearly not going to make a full tour of ALL the seventy million little shoppy-shops before we had to get back on the boat in a few hours. When I left, the scene was as follows: Scarlett was sober but was having a drink, The Weege and I had a buzz on but were a couple beers short of actually drunk, Nancy was also buzzed but maybe only ONE beer from drunk, Bess was sober-seeming but drinking pretty quickly, and George was quietly drunk but slowing down. Everyone was chatting and having fun. Fine. I left for maybe 20-30 minutes, and when I came back, all hell had broken loose, in the MOST awesome way possible. While I was gone, apparently the Nancy Drew Trio immediately busted out their secret booze IVs and had the bartenders give them tequila bottles to attach to them, because the drunkenness went up SUBSTANTIALLY. Let me say here that I bought myself a lovely tanzanite and coral ring that I enjoy very much and thus my shopping was successful. On to the crazy.

What happened was that shots were ordered in great volume, by our party and also a gentleman wearing a mint green shirt who for some reason thought that telling us to stop swearing because there were kids around would be the best way to ingratiate himself into our gathering. He then got all "ha ha, PSYCH" and then began with the shots. Then two guys from the ship arrived, having recognized us all (since we represented about 90% of our age group on the ship), and Bess proceeded to demonstrate the level of drunkenness she had achieved by randomly making out with one of these men, who was about 45, WHILE still drinking her beer. This eventually devolved into her sort of aiming the stream of beer towards her mouth but mostly missing and watering her shirt with it. Having used up one beer in this manner, she promptly picked up SCARLETT'S beer and began "drinking" that. Having finished my shopping, I'd headed for the pool bar, first to put my feet in and then thinking "oh the hell with it, it's Mexico, I'm on vacation and we're going back to the boat," so I hopped in in my clothes, foolishly assuming that there was only a smooth stroll back to the ship to follow.

My first indication that this was not to be was the crashing sound of Bess eating pavement in an attempt to come chat with me at the pool, which left her spread eagled on the ground, in a skirt. Meanwhile, at the bar, this odd Navy Man (his claim, we have no verification of his affiliation with the Navy) is talking to Scarlett all "I WILL HELP YOU TO THE BOAT," assuming that EVERYONE is as demented drunk as Bess. Scarlett described this conversation as being capped with her looking over towards the sound of Bess' poolside crash. Nancy and Scarlett swooped in at this point and wrestled Bess towards the bathroom, where she proved to be unable to do much, including peeing, throwing up, or talking, so Scarlett came bombing out to get me out of the pool for backup. Luckily, the port security folks had been alerted, and there was one person waiting outside, who eventually produced a wheelchair for which we will all be eternally grateful since there was no way in hell we ever would have gotten Bess back to the ship without it.

So I came over and helepd get Bess into said wheelchair, then Scarlett, Nancy and I rounded up George and The Weege and all our assorted purses and shopping bags and began the long and incredibly hilarious travel to the ship, which was marked by all the Mexican shop owners emerging from their shops to take pictures and video on their cell phones and all of us basically talking crazy with double checking that we had everything, etc. At the start of the pier, the port folks put Bess on the trolley along with a drunken George, which proved to be the Number Two Worst Idea of the day, the number one winner of course being allowing Bess to get that ripped. Many of you gentle readers may have been drunk out of your mind at one point and then needed to get on some form of you remember what happened?

That's right, you puked all over the goddamn place, which is exactly what happened. The non-trolley gang was trailing the trolley a little, so all we saw was Bess and George getting off the trolley and promptly spackling the sidewalk with tequila-scented puke. One way or the other, we hauled Bess back to the ship, with her and George merrily recoloring the walls as we passed people going to dinner, and got them situated in the room. Scarlett actually even thought to call the ship nurse, who was a devil woman - we were basically asking her if Bess was going to vomit herself to death, and instead the woman wants to say helpful things like "well, no one was forcing the drinks down her throat," which of course just blew our minds because that was ENTIRELY not the issue, but eventually she left and we decided that Bess would probably not die.

So once we got everyone settled and were reasonably sure that George would be able to react to any further puking incidents that occurred in a useful manner and reassured her that we would come back, our gang plus Nancy headed for the Windjammer for a theraputic dinner. Naturally, the REDNECKS from the SuperBowl of all people walked past us and asked us how our friend was doing. We told them she was fine, and they proceeded to maintain their complete lack of social skills by basically grunting that the information had been received and wandering off. We headed back to check on George and Bess, and Nancy decided to peel off then and keep an eye on them. "Good times, good times" type pleasantries were exchanged, and we went on our way to the theatre, obviously to tell everyone we could find about the adventures.

The first person we ran into was The Peruvian, who we forced to listen to the whole story, and who laughs and generally takes the story in. There was obvious comprehension. This is important to note. So then we saw The Mexican and go tell HIM the story, at which point he freaks out and asks how old Bess is for some reason, and then weirdly goes "I made her a flower," which we had to ask him to explain because what? So he demonstrates by making a rose out of a cocktail napkin, which he then gives to The Weege. Methinks he had a bit of a crush on Bess. So anyway, we sit down, and he's all "you look tired, are you ok? Do you want a drink?" So we ordered some drinks and watched part of the show before getting bored, so we roamed around a little bit before running into...George and Nancy! We all chatted a little, then again broke off to go to the Schooner Bar, where there was the usual karaoke and games, and where we also ran into The DR, who Scarlett was quick to update on the events. So on our way out, we saw Neil Diamond and the Missourienne, who also had run into the Nancy Drew Girls, so after a short description of them to get Neil and the Missourienne on the same page, you guessed it, we told THEM the story, to which the ever-deadpan Neil responded "wow, thanks for the update," and then gave Scarlett a "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" look to indicate that they knew EXACTLY what was going on with her and The DR.

On our way out of the Schooner, we saw The Peruvian, who asked us where our friends were, which was insane because a.) it had been maybe an hour since we TOLD him and b.) clearly some remnant of the story had stuck in his brain since we didn't hang out with the ND Girls all the time and thus it was odd for him to ask about "our friends." So we go over the story again, and then promptly run into the cruise director, who ALSO got told the story and appropriately cracked up. This was all really hilarious once we were sure Bess wasn't going to die, although it was scary there for a bit.

On our way to the elevators, we see none other than ALL THREE Nancy Drew Girls chilling out in the atrium! Apparently Bess woke up after a few rock-hard hours of sleep as though nothing had happened, and Nancy and George were now recapping the day's events for her, so we stopped to chat and also to give them the list of people we had blabbed to. After a short time, we headed off, thus ending the brief but thrilling period of being actively involved in the Nancy Drew Girls' adventures, although we did see them frequently in the usual places in the following days. The Weege and I were fairly pooped, but Scarlett wanted to go up to the Viking for a bit, so she went up and had one drink while apparently being ogled by one half of the two shaved-head security guys who we referred to as The Russian Mob because that's exactly what they looked like. Eventually, UnShy comes by and Scarlett asks him what his plans for Cozumel are, to which he replies that he will be on the internet for two hours. Naturally, Scarlett asks WHY he will be on the internet in a sunny Mexican port and also why it's for exactly two hours, and he answers that he has people to talk to and "many many things to look up," the latter part of which he said in a tone that seemed to indicate "and the things that I will be looking up will be your home address, because I am weird and maybe a stalker."

Needless to say, Scarlett lost the desire to just lurk around the Viking, so she came back to the room, where she and The Weege decided they were hungry, so they attempted to hit up the Solarium snack bar, only to be foiled by the curse of the Solarium. On the return, I understand that for some reason they decided to be ballerinas, and did some fantastic footwork while jumping wildly down the stairs. Ballerina style. Whatever that means. Just reporting the facts.

That would be me, The Weege and Scarlett in the non-insane portion of the day, before the peace of beautiful Costa Maya was forever shattered! The pool bar is in the background. This pic is nice because you can't really see how sunburned I was from Cayman and The Weege was from her "Tanning With The Germans" day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Don't Give Up The Ship

We woke up to mild confusion, because we were supposed to arrive in Grand Cayman on our third day, but the boat was still distinctly rocking. Not at all as badly as the past couple days, but still moving. We did hear the tender boat tickets being called though, so we sent an ambassador (The Weege) to go get us some tickets. That sounds like we forced the foreigner to do our bidding, but it only sounds like that because you haven't ever woken up in the same room as The Weege. She's up maybe 10 minutes before she is like "OKAY LET'S GO" which I guess is a combo of her perpetual energy and her deep and obsessive love for food and resulting need for immediate breakfast. It's a little scary. So we distracted her with the ticket mission, and lolled around for a little bit before she came back for a second round of pestering that finally got us out of bed. We walked upstairs to see the amazing Caribbean water and a small fleet of cruise ships waiting out the windows with the sun shining down over all of it. It was so freaking cool. There were probably about 6 other cruise ships out there, all anchored.
On Scarlett's last cruise, the timing worked out perfectly where they got their tickets and then did breakfast...they finished their meal just as their number was called. So we attempted to do the same, but I think since we were on a later tender boat, they were really zipping them out, so we had barely sat down before our ticket was called. When we heard it, The Weege started SHOVING food into her mouth, as though there would be no food for the REST OF THE DAY. I had a couple portable food things, so I just took those for the walk down to the tender, but The Weege was harfing down piles of pancakes, everything, until we finally just grabbed her and hauled her down to the boat. It was still fairly rocky, so you had to do a sort of trench run across the gangway - I almost had to double up to get under the porthole-door-thing of the ship as the cruise ship went down and the tender boat went up. It took about three YEARS to get to the island, which was mildly infuriating since...let's get to the BEACH already, people, but I was so fascinated by the color of the water that I kind of tuned out. I would like to note that on this tender boat, no one tried to sell us any fucking jewelry or tee shirts, for which I am grateful.
Got off the boat, got attacked by cameras. If you haven't been on a cruise you may not know this, and for all I know, it's strictly a Royal Caribbean thing, but they LOVE taking your picture. Every time you turn around, some RC person is shoving a camera in your face. Now, at this point, we have my standard aversion to cameras, and The Weege's face has now BLISTERED and she's extra-super self-concious about it, so we both reacted to this poor RC guy like we were vampires and he was wielding a garlic braid with a mirror taped to his forehead. There was also some dude dressed as a pirate, which I obviously loved because I am five, so I gave him a good "ARRRRR" before Scarlett finally caught up with us (she got stuck behind some old people) and I figured I should cut the pirate crap. This is why I should go on a cruise with The Marine and Diamond Lil...they would be right there with the pirate adventures. We headed up the street to browse the stores, and that was when I sort of figured out how this whole port city thing was going to be.
I had a recurring issue with the port city concept, that being that I desperately want to visit every place on the planet. My grandmother has given me a subscription to Smithsonian magazine for several Christmases now, and it is both the best and worst gift ever...on the one hand they always do SUCH awesome stories on all these exotic locales and stuff, which are interesting and unusual, but the problem is that I then want to GO to all of these places. So, when we were going to Cayman, I wanted to see a little bit of the actual Cayman Islands, which is definitely not what Georgetown's port area is. It's basically like taking the Natick Mall and painting it bright colors...there were plenty of little souvenir shacks with hand made stuff, but it was the SAME handmade stuff that you see in all tropical areas. Little critters made of coconuts and shells, stuff like that. So anyway, as much as I would LOVE to own stuff from Mikimoto, if I decided to buy it, I would go to a mall AT HOME, when I wasn't in the middle of the spending orgy that constitutes a cruise. I felt like I wasn't really seeing Cayman, which I guess is not why you go on a cruise if you're smart, but I just thought it was worth noting. NOT that this means I didn't have a blast, because I did.
We finished looking at the shops without really buying anything, and then headed back towards the pier to catch a cab to the beach. En route, we saw this one woman completely randomly fall over and crash land at the feet of this giant pirate statue, which was more hilarious than I can probably explain here...she just LAY there, spread eagled, clearly in that kind of total "how did I wind up on the GROUND" shock that you usually see in kids. We found this total sketchpad of a taxi, which I was pretty sure was going to kidnap us, driven by one dude who was obviously the driver, and co-piloted by some weird guy who we couldn't firmly identify as a driver or a random tourist. Quite the mystery. In any case, they did NOT kidnap us, and took us to the beach at the Royal Palms where we paid $5 each for a goddamn beach chair, and spent a few hours alternating baking in the sun and going in the wonderful cool, beautiful, EXTRA salty was so buoyant that I could hardly get my feet down when I floated on my back. At one point I told The Weege the salt water would be good for her face, which prompted her to go in the water and REFUSE TO COME OUT. Good times. Scarlett and I had a beer, then we all headed back to the taxi stand, where we got placed in a bus carrying more people than you would ever have thought possible. It wasn't quite the Egyptian levels of people hanging out of doors and windows, but you all sat in seats, and then there were FOLD OUT SEATS in the aisles that people got put in! It was insane. We then walked back to the tenders from the taxi drop off point. Now, as we've established, The Weege was paranoid about her face. It honestly did look pretty bad, but at this point, pretty much only WE knew it looked bad because we inspected it up close at various points when she was freaking out about it in the room. To anyone else, who didn't know to look for stuff like blisters, she just looked sunburned, which EVERYONE ON THE SHIP WAS. Nevertheless, she continued to act like a complete psycho about this, and was walking around with her baseball cap pulled SO FAR DOWN ON HER FACE that she couldn't even see anything above like...knee level ahead of her. If there had been a mailbox or something sticking off a building at chest level, she would have gotten clotheslined and never seen it coming. Scarlett spent the whole walk back to the tenders yelling at her that she looked like an escapee from some kind of institution (she did) and that she was going to get us all arrested just for looking suspicious (amazed we didn't), and to stop looking like a goddamn weirdo. She declined on all counts.
Back on the ship, The Weege and I went to check our email while Scarlett headed for the pool deck to lay out. We all reconvened on the pool deck, at which point The Mexican stopped by and asked Scarlett if she was "okay today" which impressed me because if I had dealt with her in psycho mode as she was the night before I probably would have either run or thrown a drink on her. When she answered in the affirmative, he asked again, just to check, and then chatted shortly before he went off to bring drinky liquid joy to other, non-insane people, and we headed for the hot tubs. The DR appeared shortly, and The Weege and I made eye-rolling faces while Scarlett pointlessly grilled him on why he had gone to the beach with The Mexican instead of with her, until he left, presumably also to get a break from the crazy. Shortly thereafter, a bunch of people NOT WELL VERSED IN HOT TUB ETIQUETTE decided that although there were three adult women in the hot tub, it was as good a time as any to try and cram about 8 other people in there, so we left to go to dinner, where we heard from Neil Diamond and the Missourienne that their credit union didn't accept transactions posted from Mexico (I have no idea) so they tried to pay for something that of course was like $3, and the card was denied so they had to look around for anyone from the ship who might decide to be their friends for a $3 friendship fee and needless to say they were a little stressy. It all worked out in the end though.
We then headed for the Schooner Bar for some drinks, but I was feeling icky so I went to crash. I really only needed a little nap, I think, because when I woke up I felt fine, but I was SO PISSED that I missed out on the hilarity that ensued once I left. I was also pissed because SEVERAL TIMES, Scarlett went to our cabin and harassed The Weege about sleeping and hauled her out of bed...I wish she had done so with me that night, but it was not to be, apparently.
As previously noted, The Weege was just getting to know Scarlett, so I guess they started chatting about Scarlett's past, present and future career situation, which started with an aim towards news, currently is at a DC think tank, and the future is in flux until she figures out how she feels about a variety of variables. The mention of news, however, prompted a seriously insane man to come over and abruptly announce that he could not help overhearing them, had worked at K-something-or-other in New Orleans for a number of years and that they should "feel free to pick his brain." And then sat down and remained perfectly silent while awaiting questions. I can only assume that Scarlett was not drunk enough to either tell him to get lost or just flat out ignore him, because she started asking him questions, mostly for politeness' sake. With every question it became more apparent that if in fact he HAD worked for K-whatever, he'd probably put them out of business, since he knew nothing despite Scarlett's tossing him total fluff questions. Luckily, Scarlett and The Weege didn't need to agonize over the debate between whether he was so drunk he couldn't remember anything useful or whether he'd just never worked in news, because his equally nutty wife showed up to join the party. The Weege was fascinated by these people and started asking the WIFE questions, at which time the wife declares that she used to be an opera singer but now works for the Department of Homeland Security. Oooookay. So naturally at this point they asked her if she was going to sing in the karaoke (we all got a little obsessed with the karaoke once we discovered how GOOD the contestants were...seriously, these people rocked. Not that it was 100% suck free, but and large there was awesomeness.), and the wife said no, there was some tragic accident and she doesn't sing anymore. Scarlett, presumably at this point lubed up enough to call bullshit, asked why she didn't sing anymore, since clearly she could talk, et cetera, and the woman launches into this whole "oh it takes me a month to even train for a performance and it just became too much" routine, which...hold up here for a minute.

First of all, don't be That Guy. This is KARAOKE ON A CRUISE SHIP. It's not a performance. It's karaoke. Sucking is half the fun. If you are That Guy, the one who gets all "it is my craaaaaah-ft" about any aspect of singing no matter what, just stop. No one's coming to you begging you to put on Carmen because the on-board lounge singer fell overboard. It's kara-fucking-oke. Second of all, bullshit. Total bullshit. Many-to-all of the people reading this know that I sang in high school. I did a LOT of singing, and I was good at it. I did a HELL of a lot of opera, and I did it as a soprano. It DOES take a lot of work to stay loose and to rehearse for a performance, but it does not take you a fucking month to be able to sing, which is basically what this woman was insinuating. And especially if this is your JOB as this woman was claiming, you're not starting from scratch. You have rehearsals and practice time and daily routines, and that keeps your voice loose. So don't sell that shit here, we're all stocked up. Needless to say, I wish I was there.

Back to the story, the waitress comes over to take drink orders, at which point the Weirdo Couple insists violently on buying Scarlett a drink, which prompted a certain level of concern that these people were going to proposition Scarlett and The Weege for some kind of deviant sexual activity. They then proceed to get even weirder by explaining that they never get off the ship, at any of the ports, and that the mere concept of getting off the boat is stupid. They then went on to explain that Scarlett and The Weege should ALSO never get off the boat, and for every thing that Scarlett and The Weege said they wanted to do off the ship, the Weirdos had an answer:

The Weege: Well we want to see the sights and do some shopping.
Weirdo Lady: But you could go to the spa instead!

Okay, Weirdos? STAY AT HOME AND GO TO THE SPA. Lord. So odd. After discussing the reasons to never ever leave the ship (I'm sure there's some kind of commentary on how Americans drive everywhere and don't like leaving their vehicles in here somewhere), the female psycho hops up and is all "well this has been great but time for bed kthxbye," stops to HAUL her passed out husband out of his chair, and the wander off merrily into the night.

The ladies, having survived the Psycho Family Encounter, moved on to the South Pacific lounge for the Karaoke, where they ran into a woman we nicknamed Texas because every time we saw her (and this held true for the entire cruise) she had GIGANTIC BOUFFY HAIR of the variety you see at Texas Country Fairs. Now, if there is anyone who promotes big hair it is me (I more or less want to look like the Country Music Awards every day) but this was not the good kind. It just looked so odd and outdated on her. But in any case it turned out she was fairly nice and Scarlett actually chatted with her a bunch of times during the week. They sat down with Texas and her boyfriend who I guess we'll call just plain Tex, and Texas was all excited because she was going to sing karaoke, and Tex was Cheerleader Number One all talking about how great she was and how Scarlett and The Weege were going to be blown away and fall off their chairs from the sheer fabulousity of it all. She headed up to sign up for karaoke and in the meantime, presumably to keep himself occupied, Just Plain Tex decided to start hitting on Scarlett and The Weege. This continued EVEN WHEN TEXAS RETURNED (and at other points during the cruise)...he would be sitting there WITH TEXAS BETWEEN HIM AND SCARLETT, with his arm around Texas but like...caressing Scarlett's arm. I think we can all agree - total creepster. However, this was NOT the man who would win the Creepster of the Week award! That is a story for another day.

Texas comes back and details how the crazed woman who ran these karaoke shindigs got shirty with her about her song choice, telling her that the Whitney Houston song Texas had chosen was "very difficult" and thus Texas had to sing Cher's "Believe" DESPITE the fact that Texas had informed this woman that she was MISS TEEN LOUISIANA thank you very much and she could sing her ass off. Let's just talk about the Karaoke Lady for a sec. I know that it's a cruise ship and it's a jokey, fun competition, but this woman was just INSTANTLY irritating. Her persona was "Flashy" which necessitated dressing in head-to-toe zebra print and black and white polka dots, and her gimmick was that she was a talent agent, so she'd have a little patter between contestants about how she had a great offer for them like...a Waffle House tour. And then there was this horrendous shit about how she would yell "Howdid'edooooo" at us each time (you might have to say that out loud to understand that it's a bad-Southern-accented bastardization of "how did they do") and insist that we reply "great!" not once but twice after every performance. I'm sure she's a lovely woman in person but I definitely spent about 3 total hours of my week hating her with a passion, and 3 hours in a week is a lot for someone who I saw in maybe 2 minute doses.

This was the night that Neil Diamond sang, too, so you can see why I am pissed I missed it. The judging was done American Idol style, with three judges and they actually did NOT pass Neil through to the finals (to be held on the last night of the ship) which by all accounts was just foolishness because he rocked it out. Scarlett went to the bathroom at some point and got distracted by The DR on her return trip, so she stood at the back to watch the Grand Performance of Texas, which was in Scarlett's words, "HORRID" but according to The Weege was fantastic so I guess it evens out to mediocre, although it is worth noting that singing makes The Weege giggle uncontrollably (I....don't know). I first discovered this phenomenon when we were at a Sharks game and she giggled through the whole National Anthem. The ladies departed, discussing the outrage of Neil's non-finalist status with him and the Missourienne, and headed for the midnight pool party.

We were met with varying degrees of actual concern over The Weege's age over the course of the cruise. By the end of the week, we're fairly sure that the whole bar staff KNEW she was undersage, but were so awed by the general ruckus-raising that they didn't really care. This still didn't really lead to a lot of drinking on The Weege's part, for some reason...that remains kind of mysterious to me. But in any case, they ordered up two rum and Cokes from one of the few blonde waiters on the ship, who asked The Weege if she was 21 roughly eighty seven million times, OCD-style, until Scarlett finally made the College Roommates Lie stick.

On a side note, to really appreciate the College Roommates Lie, you need more information. One night when we were at the Schooner and Scarlett was extremely drunk (possibly our second day at sea), she was pushing the CRL on The Peruvian very hard, because he got kind of "but you look kind of young" about it...not like he'd stop serving her, but just observing. It did help our case that Scarlett looks youngish for our age, too. But anyway, Scarlett pulled out HER drivers license to show The Peruvian, which reassured him and ended the discussion. Well, Scarlett's drunken brain logged exactly one piece of information from this experience - that her ID would work as proof of ALL of our ages whenever necessary. Thus, later in the trip when we were questioned about it, I believe at the Viking Lounge, a Once Again Drunk Scarlett bellowed "we're college roommates! Wanna see my ID?!" while waving her license around. Luckily, the bouncer remembered us from previous nights and just said "she's okay, I got her the other day, let them in," probably while adding on "even Drunkie over there" in his head.

In any case, the blonde bar guy comes back with the drinks and asks AGAIN if The Weege is 21, at which point Scarlett has Had It with this and is like "okay, the drinks? They are poured. Just hand them over already." About three seconds after this victory is secured, The Weege decides that she has to leave because her face is hurting. She did this a lot - "but my face really hurts!" "you're SUNBURNED." - all of a sudden although nothing had changed, she would maybe just remember that her face was sunburned? And go...tinker with it? Of course, for all I know, the pain level DID change, but I think she was also fairly worried and neurotic about it, along with a dose of self-conciousness, so she just would reach a breaking point and want to be out of the public eye for a bit as it were. Scarlett pointed out that she had JUST ordered a drink for the The Weege, but she insisted on going back to at least put water (???) on her face. Scarlett finally gave in but told her that she absolutely had to go back to the pool party and TELL Scarlett if she decided to change her plans and go to bed or something. Since Scarlett and I have been discussing the trip to fill our lonely, non-Caribbean workdays, I'm realizing that The Weege must have wanted to murder us because every single time she was going out of arm's reach, one or both of us would tell her that she HAD to tell us if she was going somewhere else. This started after the Great SuperBowl Disappearance of Ought Seven, and while I understand it must have been annoying, holy bringing it on your self, Batman. Don't want people to get paranoid about you going to the bathroom? Don't mysteriously vanish. I just never realized we were doubling up on this kind of warning until a couple days ago, but I kind of love it.

"Needless to say", as Scarlett so aptly put it, by the time The Weege had returned, she had finished her own drink and moved on to The Weege's, and had also located The DR, so the poor Weege trekked up to the 9th floor from the 3rd (we generally resisted the elevators because they took forEVER...the stairs were pretty tiring sometimes, but on the other hand, I credit them with my only gaining about half a pound on the cruise, so I'll take it.) only to be told to go away by Scarlett. Good stuff. Eventually, Scarlett came back to the cabin, and after taking a phone call to arrange their sneak-date for the next day in Costa Maya, peacefully drifted off to sleep after frantically recapping the events of the night.

The picture of sobriety in the Schooner Bar...actually, and I know this sounds like bullshit because I have said it twice now, but I don't actually think Scarlett is drunk here. I think she's mostly just making a weird face. We have discussed this and while we do admit the POSSIBILITY of intoxication, but agree that we don't think she was that hammered that early.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reason Why. We Don't Want You Fallin' Off De Ship.

Our second day at sea was both smoother and MUCH sunnier, so needless to say, we bombed out of bed and up to the pool deck to start the day. We had breakfast in the Windjammer (I will probably forget to mention breakfast a lot, but we DID have it every day...we just tended to be just waking up and fairly low-key, so I forget it happened and move right into the more disreputable behavior.) and then headed for the Solarium since it was still fairly early. The Solarium unfortunately smelled like a wet dog, presumably from having water slosh around everywhere on the rough seas, but it was all right, and we wound up hopping in the hot tub after Scarlett failed miserably at, you know, sitting still for more that 30 seconds. At some point on the first day at sea, the Weege had discovered the Compass, which is a rundown of all the events going on on the ship each day, and kind of got obsessed with it. She decided to try a yoga class, and began - seriously - about 30 minutes of dithering around all "I'm I'm not" before finally starting out in the direction of the yoga class, only to return about 15 minutes later because as with many activities on the ship, it was expensive and needed to be paid for for the whole week, so she decided against it.

We eventually migrated outside, where it was beautiful and sunny. Unfortunately, the cruise people had turned loose an insane Jamaican man to dispatch the pool rules, which were extensive. The brilliance of it was that this dude would tell you the rule and then say "reason why," then explain why the rule stood. For about FORTY SEVEN RULES. And the "reason why" was in exactly the same high-low cadence every single time, like some kind of demented internal skipping record.

"We ask that you don' reserve da seats for ya friens. Reason why. Some-a you friens dey want to sleep in and come up later, but you good people and de odder folks up here, they got up to be in de sunshine. You friens, they can find a seat when dey wake up, and mey-be de early birds take dey naps den."


"We also don' wan' to see you jumpin into de pool. Reason why. De pool is shallow, and you know de ship has been rockin' and rollin' so we don wan' you fallin' into the side of de pool."


"We don' wan' you ta bring your drink glasses in de pool. Ree-son why...."

It went on forEVER. I was ready to start heckling. He finally shut up and went on his way, never suspecting how close he had come to death.

The Weege had been roaming freely for a while and rejoined us just before the rain. We decided to do some shopping while the weather was gross, so Scarlett and I agreed to meet The Weege in the shops after she went and dropped her yoga clothes in our cabin. Scarlett and I had been in the shops for about 30 seconds when a child started crying, at which point we just looked at each other and went "no," and went up to check our email, which of course screwed up our gane plan with The Weege, but since she is an Internet addict we assumed she would eventually shake out up there. It was not to be, though, so after a while, Scarlett and I went to grab lunch at the Windjammer and return to the pool since the sun had re-emerged, under the assumption that The Weege would eventually arrive THERE, what with the getting of a tan being a secondary obsession. She didn't show up for a while, but eventually found us at the poolside bar, having managed to deepfry herself to a degree not normally seen outside of the application of a frying pan directly to someone's skin. She'd vanished for this relatively short time and came back the color of a lobster and talking about some annoying Germans. Still don't know what was up with the Germans and how they were annoying - I think it was just annoying talking - but the sunburn was QUITE spectacular. Meanwhile, Scarlett had been drinking QUITE heavily after we'd checked our email and was already feeling pretty good and passing the time by flirting with The DR at every available opportunity, so clearly despite it not being quite 5, it was already shaping up to be an evening of legend.

We headed down to get ready for formal night, which was a lot of fun. It was QUITE the process to get ready, and I also don't think I have adequately explained the conditions of the room. It's well known travel lore that women have a lot of crap. We had so much that as soon as we unzipped our bags to find our first change of clothes, the room looked like a bomb had gone off in a clothing store. It was s bad we could hardly walk through the room. This is only part of why Super Steward Alex lived in terror, by the way. We eventually asked him to pull down the OTHER bed in the room so we could throw our luggage up there, which helped considerably, but it turns out the three of us are all slobs, so by the time it came to packing it was quite the ordeal...all of our clothes intermingled and strewn around. After a certain point, I'm pretty sure Alex just gave up, despite his having several extremely awesome and sweet moments, one of which being the finding of Scarlett's aquamarine ring which we thought she'd lost. So eventually and in spite of our room, we got all decked out and headed out for a nice dinner with Neil Diamond and the Missourienne, neither of whom we now thought was a serial killer. At the end of the meal, we did our first round of shots in these glasses we were INCREDIBLY entertained by for no good reason at all. The allure was, mysteriously, that they said "Loving Cup" on them, although WHY they said this I have no's not like it was a cup you and your significant other could both drink out of or anything, it was just this funky little shot glass. Who knows. Anyway, we downed our Grand Marnier-based shots and headed out in search of the champagne bar.

....and some how wound up at the Captain's Ball. Ashley, already with a significant buzz on, with her drunk batteries quickly recharging thanks to having to DOWN her martini before we left dinner (despite it being portable? I don't know?), dithered around in about eight different directions before deciding we should stand in this completely mysterious line, which turned out to be the line for pictures with the captain. The woman in charge of moving people through the line was HORRIFYING and would demand your last name in order to introduce you to the captain, except she didn't tell you that was why she wanted to know, so for all you knew, there was just this crazy lady taking your purse and demanding to know your name in some kind of identity theft scheme. It was unnerving at best, but we met the Captain, had a quick picture snapped, which turned out AWESOMELY because it looks like The Weege is actively trying to escape. We then went on in to the theatre where there was free champagne (and free drinks as provided by the ship are HARD to come by, so in a way this was even better than going to the champagne bar. Which we never made it to, the entire trip.) and hors d'oeuvres provided by the captain, with ballroom dancing up on the stage. Scarlett and The Weege decided they wanted to go dance, which was entertaining because they were totally doing the Middle School Shuffle while there were these insane "We take lessons for fun and quite possibly run a dance school" type dancers all around them. Apparently as they were ascending the stairs, Scarlett asked The Weege if she was drunk, to which The Weege replied that she wasn't, but was Scarlett? Scarlett then said "well yeah, of course" and bombed up the stairs, and well...of course. After they came back, The Weege spilled a glass of champagne down my dress and then proceeded to FREAK OUT despite my telling her it literally cost me $6 on eBay and to please for the love of god forget about it, but she wouldn't shut up until I agreed to let her pay to dry clean it. Then the captain spoke VERY SLOWLY for about three days and introduced his crew and gave some trivia about the ship. He's a very dry, funny guy, but he speaks like you took the midwestern farming community and the deepest parts of the Deep South, linguistically, and mushed them together so that every word takes thirty seven minutes to get out. I imagine that his sense of humor keeps him from being slapped a LOT.

One thing I waited to mention is that we were welcomed by the wonderful, wonderful cruise director. This guy was SO great...very energetic and perky without being obnoxiously so, smart and well spoken, JACKED like crazy, and freaking adorable. Throughout the whole cruise, anytime you saw him, you just got this warm, fuzzy feeling of abject joy. He was awesome, and he took care of us when we walked in. We're working on forming a fan club.

Once we were able to escape from the stultifying introductions ("And this is our head chef. He manages all the cooking on board."), I headed for the cabin to change my dress both because of the Champagne Incident and also because it was a long Chinese silk dress which crinkled when I sat down, so it was getting kind of tired. Scarlett and The Weege headed to the Schooner Bar and began harassing the Peruvian. Scarlett, being shitfaced at this point, was in full-on Auto-Flirt Mode and thus rendered him into a sweating ball of nerves with a series of questions about whether he wanted to go dancing with us (no idea), to the point that he was bringing drinks and forgetting to have them sign for them, and then having to come back for more abuse. Poor child. When I got back, Scarlett has worn him down and he was like "I would love to go dancing with you," but using "you" inexplicably to refer to all of us I think? Because he shook all of our hands??? It was odd, but understandable, what with Scarlett having broken his brain. It was in the Schooner that Scarlett consumed the martini that put her over the edge into "wildly unmanageable," which was a result of The Peruvian thinking we meant lemon drop MARTINIS rather than lemon drop shots. Whoops.

We headed out for the show, which was in the theatre just across the way, and Scarlett stopped in the hallway to pick a fight with her actual boyfriend - as opposed to her cruise ship boyfriend, which, demented - about some drunken MySpace shenanigans, so The Weege and I headed in and struck up a convo with an ADORABLE Mexican guy who was on bar staff. We chatted with him for a while since there was still a fair amount of time before the show, until Drunken Unmanageable Scarlett came in. At that point, The Mexican asked if she "was okay" which is bar staff guy speak for "would you like a drink," but Scarlett, being already hammered, interpreted this as him asking if she was hammered and took offense to this and responded with "I hate you," complete with a Look of Death. The Mexican's face immediately just crumpled into the most crystal clear expression of "oh my god I am NOT trained well enough to deal with this person," and promptly tried to escape, at which point Scarlett grabbed his arm and said "No wait! I like you. You're cute. Where's [The DR]?" Obviously the poor guy had no idea, so she eventually released him as The Weege and I laughed and tried to send sympathy rays in his direction. We then sat up in the back row so that Scarlett could hold hands (just like grade school, eeeeeee!) with The DR throughout the show (a medley of music through the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s - pretty good, nothing spectacular). At the end of the show, The Weege and I made a bathroom run, then returned with some urgency to where Scarlett was hanging out, to make sure she hadn't attacked The DR and thus gotten him fired, only to find that she had migrated downstairs and was harassing the cruise director, so we went down, chatted with him for a little bit, then proceeded to the Viking, where he swore SEVERAL TIMES he would go, but never materialized. It was so odd. Probably 3 or 4 times throughout the cruise he ran into us and was all "so...see you ladies in the Viking tonight?" and then we would NEVER EVER SEE HIM.

In the Viking, we had a great time dancing and drinking and hanging out with Neil Diamond and the Missourienne. For some reason when I was ordering a drink, I asked for a "Diet and Coke" - and this is particularly embarassing because I wasn't that drunk...crazy drunk talk is one thing, crazy sober talk is a problem - and just COULD NOT make my brain stop thinking "Diet and Coke" to the great amusement of everyone there. Finally we sorted it out and I got my RUM and Diet, but it was hairy there for a minute. The Weege and Scarlett did a TON of dancing, while I stayed and chatted with our dinner friends, but eventually we even got Neil out there to dance! It was a great time, and Scarlett was again in Auto Flirt Mode, having cheersex with the DJ all night. We latched on to really wanting to hear "Ghetto Superstar" for some reason, so we requested it, only for it to come on after The Weege and Scarlett had come over for a breather. Scarlett and I FREAKED SHIT when we heard it, and dragged The Weege out on the floor while I yelled at her that "it's a rap song about POLITICS and that is awesome let's GO." The Weege and Scarlett left before me for some reason, and when the Viking closed, I left with Neil Diamond and the Missourienne to wander downstairs, and en route I found one of The Weege's blasted earrings, which had been driving her and everyone else insane all night with falling out and getting tangled in her hair. Most of the way to our rooms, Neil and the Missourienne told me how we had to make sure we were on the first tender boat in the morning to get to Grand Cayman, which I promised to do, knowing in my heart that it was a boldfaced lie. Sorry, Neil and The Missourienne. It was nothing personal.

These would be the infamous "Loving Cup" shots - this is seriously one of maybe two photos where The Weege looks sane and sober. I would also like to note that during the cruise she really didn't get to the level of drunk you would expect to produce most of the pictures we took. No idea what's up with that. Nor do I have any idea where my neck is.