Tuesday, February 20, 2007

You Bring the Bullet, I'll Bring the Wine

When we woke up on the first day, we could tell right away that we had cleared the canal and were officially on the Gulf of Mexico. The boat was rocking gently back and forth, and Scarlett and I were happy we took Miracle Product Bonine for motion sickness. I have been motion sick exactly one time, which was on an extremely rocky passage to Block Island on the teensiest ferry in the fleet. Since more or less every person on the ferry - literally - tossed their cookies on that trip, what with it being a trip through a freaking storm, I feel like I get a pass for that one. Seriously, it was gross. My brother actually puked all down the side of a Sysco transport truck, which added a certain level of hilarity to all future trips to the Block, since about 97% of "stuff that gets to Block Island," i.e. groceries, etc., gets brought over on Sysco trucks, so there was uncontrollable snickering every time we saw one thereafter, what with my family having a metal age of about five. Still, having never been on a cruise (or really a boat of any size on that kind of open water like the Gulf), I decided to be better safe than sorry and took the Bonine.

In any case, we got up all feeling fine, and headed up to the pool deck, where it was still kind of crappy, windy and cranky looking, weatherwise. Undeterred, we staked out some chairs and then after a short time figured out that the only reason to be up on the pool deck would be to be in the hot tubs, what with the wind and the slight chill still in the air, so we got in there and began a day of lounging. After we'd been in there for a while, I happened to look up at the Viking Lounge, which overlooks the pool area, and saw some odd individual sort of waving his hat around. Clearly I deemed him insane and assumed he was waving at someone else, so I ignored him, much as one would with your garden variety city dwelling homeless schizophrenic. I did look up one more time, and AGAIN this nutbar was waving, so again we had the ignoring, along with a dash of wondering why his arm wasn't getting tired.

Well, about half an hour and a trip to the conveniently located Windjammer lunch buffet later, this dude appeared by the hot tub all "didn't you see me waving?" Oh good, the schizophrenic KNOWS US. It was none other than UnShy, the tall bar guy from the Viking Crown the night before. Why he was able to spot us from the Viking when we were in the hot tub, I have no idea, but it did make me vaguely concerned as to whether any of us had engaged in un-spotted disreputable behavior, especially considering that after a certain number of drinks Scarlett goes into Auto-Flirt Mode where you yell at her for fully getting all Skin-emax biting the tip of her finger and grinning with the bedroom eyes at some CREEPY ASS MAN and she's all "what?" and you tell her she was having cheersex with some dude and she's like "no I wasn't!" and it's a little difficult, is my point. So UnShy chatted with us for a while, although the convo didn't go much longer than establishing that we had in fact met before, since we'd basically just established names and nothing else at the Viking.

After that, clearly, there was nothing else to do but have a Battle of the Dueling Trays between UnShy and The DR, who had emerged on the pool deck. All the bar staff roam around spinning their trays on their fingers like you would with a basketball. It's actually kind of cool and requires (I imagine) the kind of coordination I can only dream of. They played dueling trays and at one point even tried tossing the trays to each other and catching them still spinning, which halfway worked - UnShy managed to catch his, but The DR missed. UnShy seemed to do a lot of practicing with throwing his tray in the air and catching it still spinning, so I suspect that's why he was able to catch it. To break up the Tray Show, we got a round of drinks bought for us by the weirdest man in the world, "Bob." This really nice bar guy brought them over and we fully had to call him back at least twice to figure out who the hell had bought us the drinks, since the guy didn't acknowledge us in any way. It was so odd. I mean, you buy a drink for someone who you're not talking with at the bar or something, you watch to see them receive it and give the head bob/drink raise of acknowledgement, maybe come over to chat, no? Did I hallucinate this CODE OF NORMAL BEHAVIOR? Because "Bob," IF THAT IS HIS REAL NAME, which it totally isn't, because come on, continued to sit at the bar, not looking at us, with his sunglasses on. What a weirdo. Oh, and by the way he was in his 40s, easily. The guy who brought over the drinks just laughed when we asked how old he thought "Bob" was.

"Bob." Lord, if there was ever an alias. I bet if we talked to him he would have told us he worked for the CIA.

Eventually, we called it a day and headed for the cabin to get dressed to go to the SuperBowl Party, which was in the theatre. Let me tell you about the theatre on board...it's really comfy, with almost lounge chairs and nice big armrests so you don't need to play Elbow Wars like you usually do in public seating. They showed the game on a giant projection screen that took up pretty much the whole stage, and had lots of Bears and Colts colored decorations, plus some good, solid tailgating food - chips and dip, lots of beer, hot dogs, etc. Unfortunately they were only able to get a satellite feed from Mexico so it was a Spanish-language broadcast and there were also NO COMMERCIALS which was a total bummer. It was still a fun atmosphere though, and that's what YouTube is for. We were seated behind a row of people who at best...no. Let me finish telling you a few more things about the game, then we'll talk about the people in front of us. One cool thing is that there was football trivia running on two side screens, and AS the Bears returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown (which was really exciting even though I could give a crap about the Bears outside of "please beat Peyton Manning"), the trivia was giving the answer to the question "How many times has an opening kickoff been returned for a touchdown in SuperBowl history," which up until that very moment had been "This has never been done in SuperBowl history." Sort of a neat History As It Happens moment...I wished I had a camera.

Okay, let's talk about the people in front of us. First, UnShy was working the party, so he took us to some seats behind these people, and one of them got REALLY AGGRESSIVELY PISSY about it. Not to us, but when their womenfolk arrived, he was all "well you COULD have sat there but I GUESS NOT." Secondly, every single one of these people was wearing some article of clothing that was camoflauge patterned. They also felt it necessary to bring their beer coolies from home, which was utterly inexplicable...can you imagine packing for a week in bags sufficient for you to get through your flights with minimal hassle and deciding "no, I really need to bring my blue foam beer coolie that says 'Joe's Place, Shitkicker, MO'," as you packed? My god. So at one point they turned around to apologize if they were "cussin" despite the fact that a.) I work bluer in my sleep, and b.) we were all "cussin" way more than they were in the first place, unless "crap" has been deemed incredibly offensive while I wasn't paying attention. They got completely fixated on The Weege being from Norway, but not in an "hey that's cool, do they wear socks in Norway" inquisitive kind of way, just more like asking her OVER AND OVER if she was from Norway.

Soon, UnShy came by with our bucket o' beers and promptly asked Scarlett to go off the boat with him in Costa Maya. She said she would think about it and then asked if UnShy had asked The DR if it was all right, which he said he did, and that The DR said it was okay. About three seconds after UnShy left, The DR came over all "what did he say to you" and then stalked off, presumably to find his dueling glove to slap UnShy with. A few minutes later UnShy came back over and Scarlett told him The DR had said that UnShy hadn't asked him about anything, and apparently ALL the male staff members of the ship's bar staff are socially retarded, because instead of saying something he just went away. Not a word, not a sound, just walked away. Because he's a goddamn weirdo. LEST you think that Scarlett does not resemble her alias-sake and that she is just a poor innocent woman being fought over by these bizarre men, I would like to present you with her comments as we were reviewing this day of the cruise so I could blog it today:

[Scarlett]: then we went and got dressed and went to the super bowl party where we were accosted by [UnShy] AGAIN
and he sat us behind the angry rednecks
then he came over with a bucket of beers and asked me out in costa maya
to which i said i'll think about it
excited about the prospects of this drama
when [The DR] came over and was like what did he say to you?
which i clearly explained hoping they would get into a PUBLIC brawl
but alas it was private haha

So there's that.

And god forbid we think that the rednecks we sat behind were only odd in APPEARANCE, they also had this mysterious chart, which I later learned from Speed was, as Scarlett and I had hypothesized, a betting grid. I guess what you do is make a bunch of squares which correspond to the score, teams, divisions, quarters, etc. and people buy specific squares, and it pays out according to all the factors on the chart. Fine. Except we didn't know that at the time, and we asked these people several times. And each time we asked what it was, they just stared at us and turned back around. Good. God. Where Royal Caribbean picked these people up I have no idea but if you told me they were stowaways I would have believed you.

I'd say about half the theatre cleared out after the halftime show, most of the departees murmuring about not being able to take it anymore - the theatre is at the front of the ship, where you can really feel the movement, and in fact that screen was swinging around a little. About midway through the fourth quarter, The Weege announced she was going to the bathroom, and then disappeared for about 20 minutes. Needless to say I assumed she had either fallen off the boat or that "Bob" had kidnapped her for some nefarious purpose. I went to look for her, having a series of heart attacks as new theories of misfortune popped into my head with every step. I started with our cabin, where I found her...asleep in her bunk. After informing her that I would prefer if she NOT make me lose my mind and figure out how to tell my mother I lost her Norwegian exchange student, I went back to the game and shortly thereafter Scarlett and I decided to boogie since the goddamn Colts looked like they were going to win and my hatred of Peyton Manning was starting to set nearby objects on fire.

We headed across the way to the Schooner Bar, which is a smoke-and-mirrors type bar presided over by an extremely odd pianist who wants to be Barbara Streisand in the worst way. We sat in the bar area, where we were out of range of the pianist's lounge singer patter and in close proximity to the booze. Scarlett's phone rang, which alerted the attention of none other than Neil Diamond and the Missourienne, who were sitting at the bar! Suddenly, the entire air of serial killer-itude dropped off of Neil as he chatted with us about how Scarlett could have service out on the Gulf, et cetera, and we wound up finding out about Neil Diamond's secret karaoke skills and that he was going to sing in that night's competition. We promised to be his cheering section. We went back to our own pairings of conversation, and then something awesome happened. Another bar staffer stopped by and said hi to Scarlett, who he recognized but didn't...well I was going to say he didn't remember from where, but I think the reality is that he was trying to figure out if it was possible that she had actually been on the same cruise ship twice in the short period he'd been working there. He then presented the line of the century, that being "I been here three months...I seen you twice!" Which...fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. He followed it up with the still great but not quite as spectacular, "she is well known on this ship. She is very...kind." Awesome.

So after the joy of that exchange, we headed to the South Pacific for the karaoke, which did NOT feature Neil Diamond...he signed up but they didn't get far enough down the list before the session was over. It was fun, and AGAIN the singers were pretty damn good. Karaoke was over around 11, at which time Scarlett wanted to go to the show, mainly in order to flirt with the DR, but I was zonked so I went to bed while she headed for the theatre.

You would think this would be the end of the day's story for me.

Clearly you do not know Scarlett if you are of this opinion.

Around 1 am, she came bombing into the room babbling about how she had a date with The DR, which I couldn't figure out the logistics of since by all accounts the punishment for staff-guest fratenization is death by firing squad. I am not kidding you when I tell you that the entire announcement went like this: "I HAVE A DATE!" The plan was apparently to go to the Solarium and then...do something, I guess. I wasn't clear on the details, but having had the Scarlett Experience of this variety (i.e. the crashing in with a burst of information/insanity at odd and definitely normal sleeping hours times) a couple times in college, I kind of went "okay then" and tuned back out. The Weege, on the other hand, who had never met Scarlett before we all reconnoitered at BWI and was as a result completely fascinated by her in the way you normally find kids being amazed the first time they see the baking soda and vinegar volcano at the school science fair, was leaning over her bunk watching this unfold with rapt attention. Shortly thereafter, Scarlett got a phone call from The DR and then vanished out the door.

...........only to return about 3 minutes later, having been foiled by none other than Horrifying Towel Lady from the previous night's Solarium adventure. Apparently she had been evilly patrolling her turf, rendering Operation Inappropriate Solarium Tryst impossible. Scarlett whirled around in her usual drunken flailing mode (don't ask me why, but after a certain point, Scarlett's limbs develop like...extra joints, and she kind of just whings them around with little regard to animate OR inanimate objects) for a while, then tapped out to rest up for another day.

I realize that it may LOOK like we're all drunk here, but in fact we were not. Yet. Actually I think Scarlett might have been a little. But The Weege's face did that all by itself.

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