Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Cruise - Part One

Many, many years ago, before some of you were born, say around 1999 or so, Ema and I decided to take a cruise. Once the idea sunk in, we were so excited about this adventure that we swore not to let the fact that we couldn’t afford the trip stand in our way. Nor did we allow the fact that I have an inner ear disorder which obligates me to spontaneously empty the contents of my stomach whenever the ground on which I’m standing moves. Ema assured me that today’s modern ocean liners are so stable and smooth, that you don’t even know you’re on the water. I reminded her of the time I lost my lunch while standing in line for a movie when a 4.2 earthquake hit. Touché.

While booking the trip, we decided that as long as we were spending money we didn’t have, we mize well splurge and get an outside stateroom with a balcony. This way, our last memories of life prior to moving to skid row would at least include a decent ocean view. The kind person on the other end of the phone assured me that we had booked the same room that we saw in the brochure. “Yes sir,” she said, “We have you and your wife booked to share the deluxe ocean view stateroom on the Cordova deck.” “With a balcony?!?” I blurted. “Yes, sir, with a balcony. That will be nine hundred thousand dollars.” Actually I forget the actual amount. All I know is that we made more than a couple of trips to the day-old butcher in the year following our trip.

The day of the cruise had arrived, and we couldn’t wait to get on the ship and check out our deluxe stateroom with balcony! We made our way down into the ship to the Cordoba deck. This should have been our fist clue, as the further down in the hull of a ship your room is, the noisier and less desirable it is as well. Think “steerage” from the movie Titanic. We reached our room, mid-way down a very long hallway lined with buzzing fluorescent lights. I slid the key card, pushed open the door, and Ema and I stood in silence for several long seconds staring into the room which represented our last bastion of fun and frivolity before the vexing and pitiless phantom of financial demise embraced us at the end of the gangway as we stepped ashore.

To be continued. . .