Come sail away

No. You’re not crazy. It was just a little more than a year ago that you read my three-part series bidding bon voyage to the cruise industry. The thing is ships have a funny way of making it back to port, and I have a knack for finding a way to board them.

So, I’ve left the old Alma mater to return to the sea, but not without racking up some pretty awesome memories. Here are just a few:

Traveled to Nicaragua with this guy and earned the title of producer for his brilliant documentary films. He even let me shoot a little.
Attended my first college football game. I spent three quarters of it in the parking lot and the last quarter at Denny’s.
Received a Master of Arts in Linguistical Fancy. Not only is linguistical not a word, but also my name is spelled wrong. For these, and many other reasons, this diploma is framed on my wall.
Marco Polo
Made it completely acceptable to play a blind-folded game of Marco Polo around the office. Perhaps there was also a secret, after-hours game of Hide’n Seek. Maybe.
Office Glee
Convinced the office to dress up like characters from “Glee.” Although they all claimed to have never watched the show, they individually nailed their parts.

There was the week I spent at band camp, and the April Fool’s video that was pulled off of the interwebs. And, how can I forget the major knee injury I earned while sliding across the student union while dressed as a turkey. There’s so much more, but I won’t bother sharing them. Those memories are the ones I’ll keep in my permanent suitcase, as I’m once again waving to my friends from the bow of a ship.

I’m on a boat, free

This is number three. You’ve made it! 

I’m Free.

Half a dozen ships sailed out today. I was on none.

My suitcase is empty and stored in my closet. My toothbrush is standing at attention, in its holder. I do not have a frosty drink or a cigarette in either hand. My ship phone does not have a caller on the other end asking for a bottle of Blue Label and tofu hummus. As a matter of fact, I don’t have a ship phone. I just have a cell phone – good for making calls on land.

This is the second time I leave ships. The first time, I cried. Like a baby. But then again, I was a baby. This time, however, was different. I left without looking back. For fear of whiplash and awkward conversation.

The golf cart whisked us away from the gangway, (me, some big-shot vice president and none other than the CEO,) to the car that would eventually take us to the airport.

A few hours before my departure, I, wearing a cocktail dress and heels, belly-flopped into the pool and did a backspin on the ledge guests use to pretend they can walk on water. It’s the same joke, every cruise – especially if they purchased a bucket of Bud Light. While soaking wet, I picked up a yellow “Caution When Wet” sign and with it, walked around the entire ship dripping wet. All of this was captured on surveillance cameras and, for good measure, I had two friends use their cell phones to document my act of mayhem.

After making it safely from the pool to the crew bar, I decided to return to my room for a quick shower and wardrobe change. Once dry, I ended up taking shots of Jameson; catching french fries with my mouth from across a table; getting lifted on a chair, while three non-Jews sang Hava Nagila; and avoiding eye contact with Rebecca, the highly intoxicated and mentally unstable guest. There’s always a Rebecca on every cruise.

And then, that was it.

I woke up the next morning, packed my bags, tied up loose ends, said my good-byes, and drove away with the president. I did take some things with me (It’s only fair, they got to keep my bonus). Namely:

  • Being surprised by a seal in Ketchikan.
  • Running around Sorrento like we owned the place.
  • Getting caught by surveillance throwing an illegal cabin party.
  • The client’s face when I made shots appear as the song “Shots” played.
  • The teen idol I chased up four flights to keep her safe from the multitude of fans not running behind her .
  • Wearing a white uniform and stripes for he NoH8 campaign photo shoot in the middle of the ocean.
  • Getting lost in the hallway with the Captain.
  • Getting caught in a rumble that included: three ship security guards; two private security guards; one retired Coast Guard officer; one four-striped officer; and one very delusional woman.
  • Sailing with down-to-Earth bands, singers and celebrities that treated their fans well.
  • Making friends from all over the world.

Bon voyage ship life! You’ve been fun. I will racont your stories in oral and written form, but as for now, you and I must part ways. Like Marc Anthony and J.Lo’s split, ours is an amicable one. Even though in private, like Marc Anthony and J.Lo, we used to beat the shit out of each other and then attempt to make babies while chain-smoking menthol Camels.

I’m on a boat

This is the first of three installments of a series dedicated to life on a cruise ship. 

 Holy Disco Balls!

When working on a ship, I hardly sleep. It’s a 24 hour job. My phone can ring at anytime and I have to be prepared to accommodate the request, whatever it may be. I’m usually up and about at 6:30 in the morning, as it’s the quietest time to walk the deck. Just the sound of the waves crashing against the bow and crackle of my cigarette with each inhale. It’s peaceful and humbling. My version of a morning prayer.

My routine was especially appropriate this week, as I was tasked with escorting a religious group.

About an hour after my first cigarette, I was walking across the public spaces on the seventh deck, when I heard a scream in the distance. I quickened my pace toward mid-ship, but when the single scream turned into a chorus of screams, cries and banging, I broke into a full sprint.

As I ran I prepared myself to see a dead body. Probably one of the church grandmas dropped out of her motorized scooter right in the middle of morning service. After all, given the average age and sodium intake, it’s not unlikely for guests to drop dead on a cruise. I turned the corner, with a mental check list of what I was going to do:

  1. Push through the crowd.
  2. Assess the body, check their pulse.
  3. Ask the calmest person to call the doctor’s extension.
  4. Ask the second calmest person to get a table-cloth from the dining room to cover the body.
  5. Collect the deceased’s personal items to ascertain her identity.

But, when I pushed through the crowd in the ship’s disco, which the group had turned into a make-shift chapel, I realized that the rest of my mental check list was no use. One woman was shaking while she screamed gibberish at the top of her lungs, while men and women fanned her. When I got closer a man stomped across the dance floor waving his arms and aggressively screaming, “Hallelujah!” The screams and hysteria made me feel nauseous. The room started to spin and goosebumps covered my entire body.

I caught the stares of two of my colleagues standing near the exit. Their eyes sympathetic, but their bodies frozen in the doorway. It was exactly like that scene in Jaws, when people on the shore just watch in horror. Somehow I managed to walk toward them without receiving any major contusions. Both of them grabbed me, one on each shoulder and we walked away from the madness like the survivors of a dinosaur attack.

I looked at them both in disbelief. I asked rhetorically, “What the fuck was that?”

“I think they said it was the Holy Spirit,” one of them offered.

“In the disco?” I asked sarcastically.

“I vomited there yesterday,” said the other.