The World Tilted
Wednesday was our Sea Day, which meant twenty-four hours on the ship with no land in sight. It was going to be like Sunday, just twice as long. This was the day to relax and take in the ship without hurry. There would be no sight-seeing except for the cast of characters that made up the passenger list and in them was quite the roll-call.
The day began like the rest as we had found a routine we liked and stuck with it; we slept in and then had breakfast. Why mess with a good system, right? Life without alarm clocks was wonderful.
The rain was gone, but the wind was beginning to pick up and you could feel it in the rolling of the ship. It was going to be a great day to lay out on a deck chair and watch the ocean slip by.
After breakfast followed by a cigar and coffee on our balcony, books were grabbed along with the beach towels provided with the room that you could later purchase as you left the ship as another home crowding souvenir – with no beach I wondered if the towels somehow got demoted to just plain towels – and we made our way to Deck Twelve. It seemed like the only place on the ship that no one else had discovered. I could see why in a way once I got up there. We were at the tail of the ship and on the other side of the giant red fin was the kids’ water playground with an abundance of screaming and splashing. It had been awhile since we had been tortured by the loudness of children, so we decided to sharpen our tune-out abilities for when we returned home.
The wind had picked up drastically, coming in small gusts. When we arrived home the next day some people told us it was a low pressure front while others said it had been a tropical wave. I don’t know what one is from the other, but I do know that the wind was strong enough to lift Teri completely out of her shoes while we were climbing the stairs. She clutched the railing with a yelp and refused to release it until we reached the top.
We found some deck chairs where we could people watch as well as see the water and luckily for me it was in the shade. Teri and I struggled with our chairs, drinks, and books while Char and Sarah decided they wanted to lie out and get wind burnt. The two of them wandered off into the sun as I settled back with my Raymond E. Feist and fought to keep the book open. I was also fighting with my chair. It was like a comedy show. I had to sit still, because if I leaned forward even the slightest the wind slammed the back of the recliner into my head, making sure to teach me a lesson.
The spot we had chosen overlooked the pool and I was able to see the parade of characters that were doing exactly what we were doing only one deck down. The outfits that some had chosen made the ship’s name, Carnival, seem quite fitting. One outfit caught both my eyes.
“Some plastic surgeon had a two for one sale, or rather a four for two sale,” I said. When Teri just looked at me confused, I pointed to a pair of sisters setting up to lay out by the pool below us who had the enhanced version of nature’s breasts. Everything is enhanced nowadays except my driver’s license. “There’s no way those are real.”
Teri just shook her head. “You’re bad.”
“So are they. It just doesn’t look natural on someone that scrawny.” Then the girl turned and I could tell why she had the boob job done. The guys needed something to look at.
Char and Sarah eventually lost the sun due to an overcast sky that had finally caught up with us and made their way back, but by the time they sat down I was tired of wrestling with a chair that was determined to win. It was time to visit that Jacuzzi Sarah’s mom had told us we had to find. Two decks below was a section of the ship called the Serenity, which was an “adults only” section loaded with deck chairs and two hot tubs. Carnival’s idea of “adult only” does not match mine in the least. Still, while it couldn’t block out the chatter of little kids, it did keep them from running around our feet. It was the most popular section on-board.
Teri found a cushioned chair in the shade where she could relax and we piled our stuff beside her and headed for the hot tub. Two days before we had set sail on our four-day Atlantic adventure, a sales rep from Carnival had called wanting to upgrade me into a Penthouse Suite for only half the price because they hadn’t filled them all. I’m not sure why they called it the penthouse because it was a deck below our already secured room.
“Yes, sir. You will get twice the size of your current balcony, the ladies will have another closet they can use, and there’s a hot tub right there in your room.”
“Any Penthouse models?” I figured that was the reason they called it a Penthouse Suite since it wasn’t on the top deck.
He chuckled slightly. “No, sir. Sorry about that.”
“So you want me to pay another $520 so that the girls will make me lug more shoes on-board just so they can fill that extra closet? No, thanks.” Besides, we still hadn’t received my birth certificate, so I wasn’t sure we were even going on the cruise yet.
Char, Sarah, and I climbed into the Jacuzzi, which already had two semi-drunk men and a loner girl enjoying the bubbling heat, and settled down into the warmth.
“You can squeeze a couple of more in, right?” I looked up and Boobs, her sister and her mother were climbing over the edge.
“Always room for more,” one of the drunken guys said, and I knew it wasn’t to be nice to the mother. As the girls slid in the loner girl gave up and slid out. The water level rose and I noticed that if the ship went down it wouldn’t matter where the sisters were because they came equipped with their own flotation devices.
The banter and giggles began as the single guests started their dance of flirtation with one another and Boobs was definitely leading. I hadn’t had enough coffee and no alcohol yet in order to stomach the syrupy pick-up lines and was ready to escape. Someone was going to score before we docked and I wished them luck and sloshed out of the water.
It was then that I noticed the boat tilting to the starboard side and the wind had picked up even more. The mother had set her stuff near the edge and we watched as an angry wind snatched her sandal and threw it into the Atlantic. Of course, the drunken men weren’t heroic enough to dive in after it. The notion of some behind doors action is only good for so much, I guess. I wondered what some treasure seeker would make of the lone shoe one day.
“Anyone else ready for lunch?” I was hoping food would take Char’s mind off of the tilting ship. It had been at least two hours since we had gorged ourselves, so I figured food was the next activity on things to do today. The girls agreed and we headed back to the stateroom to change.
The girls usually take forever to get ready for anything, including watching television. However long it took them to shed their wet clothes for dry ones and brush out their storm-tossed hair, by the time we emerged from our room the world had drastically changed and I saw the beginning of another Poseidon Adventure. The ship was permanently at a 45 degree angle, starboard side down and everyone was walking as if on a steep hill. The wind had become so fierce that all outside decks and walkways had been closed and the chairs stacked up. Barf bags had even been taped to the elevators and the stairs were almost hazardous.
“Oh, this is going to be fun,” Char said as she gave me that “I knew this was going to happen” look.
Lunch on the Lido Deck was quite entertaining thanks to Mother Nature. It was bad enough that when you looked out one window all you saw was sky and on the other side all you saw was water, but it was also like an old Abbot and Costello movie where they are trying to eat a meal on a ship and just as they get spoon in hand, the boat rocks and the food starts to slide back and forth on the table. After getting my lunch, I sat next to an elderly couple and glanced over their food choices before I took my seat.
“Just want to make sure I like what you’re having in case it winds up in front of me.”
They just laughed, but less than five minutes later one of their plates slid down the table and had to be caught before entering my fork’s space. They were lucky I wasn’t in the mood for salad.
The funniest part of lunch was when a lady filled a bowl with soup; put it on her tray and the steaming liquid overflowed the bowl’s banks filling her tray and waterfalling to the floor. The pool had been doing the same exact thing with the deep end now on one side as opposed to the end of the pool.
I decided to stick with food I could hold.
The Sensation hosted an afternoon tea in the Touch of Class and the girls wanted to experience it. To be honest, so did I. It would be like playing a wealthy Englishman and it’s fun to role play at times. Too bad we left the girls’ maid’s outfits at home.
The Touch of Class was the same room the piano bar comedian had crashed and burned in and luckily he was absent. The room’s motif was hands, giant black and white hands with bright red fingernails. It also had fake keyboards on the bar that encircled the baby grand, which gave the whole room an even creepier kind of allure.
We took a spot along the wall where we could glance out the picture windows at the churning ocean as we soaked in the ambiance of the soft piano music. The waiters were clad in serious black outfits, which gave them a butler’s appeal, and the tables were set with stark white saucers and cups. The first "butler” went from table to table with a plain wooden box of select teas and we were able to choose our delight. Char went with her standard English Breakfast even though it was mid-afternoon. Sarah chose the ever faithful Earl Grey while Teri and I ventured into Orange Spice.
Another man soon followed with a cart of carafes of hot water and trays of sugars and creamers. I prefer the natural sweetener of honey in my tea, but none was available so I drank my tea straight. I prefer most of my beverages that way anyway. Why ruin coffee with sugars and cream or even flavor, and I only like three small ice cubes in my bourbon. Rarely do I even add salt and pepper to my food.
The crumpets came next, which in this case was a cart filled with several different desserts for you to sample. We took a little of this and a little of that in order to taste it all, and of course when we found a dish we really liked we had to make the others sample it as well. It was a relaxing, peaceful afternoon and soon it didn’t matter that the waters around us were churning and the ship was almost on its side.
“Looks like friends were made,” Char said, and pointed to a small group of people who had wondered in and sought out a dark corner with her chin in that way people do when they want you to look somewhere without making it so obvious.
Glancing in that direction, not caring if I was obvious or not, I saw Boobs and the hot tub gang taking seats, and I couldn’t help but laugh. Girls can get guys to do just about anything.
Once another cup of tea had been savored along with some key lime cheesecake, I decided to rest in the stateroom. It was while I was laying in the bed that I felt the world go flat again, as it slowly slipped back into place. It was a gentle motion, barely perceptible. I sat up in the bed, glancing out the glass balcony door and was relieved to see both ocean and sky whereas earlier it was just ocean.
Slipping outside, I leaned against the balcony, taking in the waves as they rose and fell in normal rhythm. Life is like that. Sometimes it feels as if everything is going cockeyed and you’re about to tip over and drown. Then almost without feeling it happen, everything levels off and smooth sailing resumes. How you handle life when the world is tilted reveals what kind of a person you are. I wondered if it meant anything that the four of us had just had tea while the ship leaned too far starboard.
At dinner, Mr. Camera Guy, who seemed to be stalking us, once more appeared at our table ready to snap another shot of us to prove to those people back home that we could indeed choose our own meals. However, before he could get the camera into position, all four of us held up our hands and shouted, “No!”
“You folks have pictured us out,” Teri said. “Really, how many pictures of us eating do you think we need?”
The answer, apparently, was every time we sat at table. Besides, by the time we left the cruise we had taken 550 pictures ourselves – for free!
After dinner, the Sensation held its Farewell Party out by the pool. Danny, our cruise director of fun, was leading the crowd in a Conga Line competition that wrapped around the stage, dance floor, and pool area. As I sat in a deck chair watching, the three girls went down and sashayed with the other passengers, weaving around fake plants and columns. Later, we enjoyed the Electric Slide and the Cupid Shuffle.
I’m not sure if anything else was taking place on-board, but it seemed that the entire ship had ventured out to say goodbye to the rest of the passengers and crew. With the ship back on even water, it was a celebration of life and holding it together during a storm. I could relate. After our family has weathered some rough turbulence, it is always time for celebrating. We made it, unscathed, but then, to be honest, all of life is a celebration if lived correctly.
The party was still going strong, but the hour called for packing, getting our mainland lives ready to be picked up once again. I stared down at the crowd below, the kids dancing up and down the steps, the adults stuffed into the Jacuzzi, everyone was squeezing every minute out of their Bahamas getaway that they could. I couldn’t blame them for it had been my intention before I had even stepped into the Port Canaveral terminal. For the most part, it’s how I choose to live my life.
The bags were stuffed and piled outside our stateroom, waiting for the steward, who we had baffled all week long, to stack onto a cart and haul to the ship’s cargo hold. The bags were to be searched for contraband from what I had been told, but I’m not sure how hard they examined things. My Cooper’s Mark had made it on-board, after all, and I was quite sure it was going to make its way off again, opened and half enjoyed.
It was just past eleven and the four of us knew there was no way we were going to see midnight. Before turning in for slumber that would safely see us docked at home, we ventured back out to the balcony for one final look at the Atlantic. We live on the east coast, so we see the ocean all of the time, but never like this, never without the shore firmly under our feet. We stood shoulder to shoulder, hands on the rail as we stared out at the vacation we were leaving behind. Reality was seven hours away, but that still left the fantasy for now.
I gazed at each of the girls and couldn’t help but smile. We had crammed as much as we could into four days and were exhausted from the fun and excitement. The girls were already planning the next one and wanted to take the kids.
Back inside, I slid between the sheets and laid my head on my pillow. The girls were already out. I smiled again into the darkness. It had been a great trip and I really didn’t want to go home. Of course, when I’m with the girls wherever I am is home.
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