Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Cruise - Part Three

I walked back up the long, slightly sloping hallway to the aft main stairwell, and climbed four floors to the main deck. Hundreds of guests milled about, many with astonished looks on their faces as they glanced skyward at the magnificent glass elevator stuffed to capacity, as it rose toward the promenade deck. I’d seen the elevator. I’d also seen the hallway with the buzzing lights and a curious little room, not much bigger than my cubicle at work, which had somehow been mistakenly issued to us. I set my eyes on the purser’s desk at the far end of the lobby.

At the pursers’ desk I was greeted by a tall, pretty brunette, mid-twenties, Rachel according to her name tag. “Hello Sir, what can I help you with?” Too damn cheery; normally I’d put a stop to that right away, but there was something about her look, the way she presented herself, that smile, those dimples, the fresh, unsoiled innocence of youth. . . “C’mon, Jordan, snap out of it!” I told myself. “Your WIFE is downstairs in steerage, standing in a room the size of an airliner lavatory! Concentrate on your anger, man – you do it all the time at home!” I took a deep breath, remembered the last time I caught our dog peeing on the office carpet, and got down to business.

“Hi.” I said, firm, composed, confident. Then again, I reminded myself it’s not that hard to say ‘hi.’ “I believe we were given the wrong room.” I handed her our boarding pass and room key. “Well let’s take a look.” She said, turning to her computer. “Hmmm, according to our records and your itinerary, everything seems to be in order. Was there something wrong with the room?” I was halfway expecting this answer. “Let’s start with what’s right with the room – it’s a shorter list.” Rachel gave a half smile. “The room appears to be dry – free from sea water leakage of any kind; there’s a bed of sorts, something resembling a television, but I needed my reading glasses to correctly identify it, a window. . .” I paused, remembering the one bit of evidence that even Rachel nor her computer could dispute – the balcony! “Oh yes, the window. According to the brochure, our deluxe stateroom was supposed to have a balcony – not a window.” Rachel bit her lower lip and tilted her head slightly as she turned back toward her computer monitor. “Hmmm. . .” She said, tapping away on the keys. “Oh, your room doesn’t have a balcony. It has a balconette.” She smiled, turned back toward me and combed some hair behind her right ear with her fingers.

Now I may not know much about politics, mathematics, history, automotive repair, or women, but the one thing in which I do have confidence is my command for the English language. I’m a ‘word nerd,” love words, and know quite a few of them. Never, in my nearly four decades on this planet, however, had I heard the word ‘balconette.’ I folded my arms on the faux marble countertop, leaned in toward Rachel, and took a deep, cleansing breath.

To be continued. . .