Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Cruise - Part Two

“The pleasure of expecting enjoyment is often greater than that of obtaining it, and the completion of almost every wish is found a disappointment” --Samuel Johnson

Magical photographic techniques have been used for decades to enhance the allure of consumer products for marketing purposes. We’ve come to expect certain liberties that advertisers take to sell us goods. That perfectly grilled steak on the Webber grill billboard? We accept that the grill marks were made with a curling iron, and the rich caramel coloration is a result of dipping the meat in a wood stain and honey mixture. Nowhere, though, is there a wider chasm between fantasy and reality than with the cruise ship brochure photos. Fish-eye lenses do more than broaden and deepen our visual perspective of an otherwise tiny cabin, they toy with our mental perspective as well - manipulating our dreams; and providing a false promise which we are compelled to believe.

When Ema and I saw the photos of our deluxe stateroom with balcony in the brochure, we no more believed them than we believe the Southwestern Grilled BBQ Bacon Burger we order from Carl’s Jr. will look anything like the photo on the menu board. But, when our food is finally delivered, at least it resembles our notion of what a hamburger should look like, and not, say, a chicken wing. That’s what Ema and I were staring at – a $3,000 chicken wing.

At the far end of the room, where the balcony should have been, there was a large, oval, doorless window. “This has got to be the wrong room.” Ema said, trying to regulate her breathing as to not hyperventilate. “Yeah.” I said, and walked into the room. I approached the window and felt along the outer edge for a handle of some sort, a seam, anything that would indicate that the window could be opened. Nothing. I turned back to Ema who was struggling with the bathroom door handle. “Wait” I said, “Don’t move a muscle. I’m going to speak to someone in charge.” Ema likes it when I get upset enough to be proactive. She was able to let a thin smile escape as I swept by her and kissed her cheek on my way out of our tiny room.

To be continued. . .