Before Diane and I became Motorhome owners, and before my son entered college, we were avid cruisers. This is the story of our first one, which took place a bunch of years ago. This story, which I wrote years ago, will take up some blog space until Diane and I hit the road to our next stop.
My wife Diane is always collecting stories and anecdotes from people. For years if she hears something interesting from somebody she will tell me about it. She will cut things out of the newspaper or a magazine and stick it on the refrigerator door for me to find. She also reads me e-mail. Just the other day she found a piece of mail that her cousin Elaine sent her months ago. Somehow it ended up in some pc desktop folder somewhere and she overlooked it. She found it just the other day, the same day she was told that her mother has Alzheimer's Disease.
God woke a man during the middle of the night and told him that he would find a very large rock in his front yard. God told the man to get up and push it. The man wanted to do what God told him so he went outside and started pushing the rock. He pushed with his hands, his back and with his legs. He gave it everything he had but the rock would not move, not one little bit. For hours everyday he would push it.
One night while lying in bed, exhausted from all the pushing, the devil came to him and said, "Why do you bother, you have not moved that rock at all. You are nothing but a failure."
The man thought about this and complained to God. "Hey God what about it? I have pushed that rock for months now and it still sits there! Why tell me to move it when I can't?"
God answered, "I never said anything about moving the rock, I told you just to push it. You can't move the rock. Only I can move it ... but now your legs are stronger, your back is stronger, your hands are tough and calloused …now you are no longer weak."
My wife is strong. For years the rock that she pushed looked a lot like my head. We have been through some tough times, many of them Derrick-inflicted. I choose to be driven by a need to be successful in business (so driven that I took our savings and put them into a cash bleeding business without telling her) as opposed to being successful as a husband and father. But Diane keep pushing. One night God moved the rock.
In May 1985, Diane spent four weeks in the hospital pregnant with our son Joel. She developed acute toxemia along with high blood pressure and spent most of those four weeks laying on her right side with the rails up on her bed and just over her head, a tongue depressor taped to the wall. At the end of three weeks Joel was delivered early by Caesarian section. He entered into this world with a very bad set of lungs. After delivery Diane's blood pressure shot up so high, it put her on the edge of a stroke. I could have lost them both.
God took the rock from her and put it in my court, so to speak. In the span of one night I started to remember what was most important in my life, Diane and my kids. That night, I did a lot of pushing, or should I say praying? My son, who is now a champion cross-country runner, and my wife recovered. I started to recover but it took a while. I sold the business two years later; it also took me awhile to realize it was not much of a loss.
So, Diane and I continued our cruise called life together, and this day found ourselves on this nice white ship ....
We played a few more games of shuffleboard. She approaches the game with a lot of patience and moves the puck gracefully to the end of the court. Me, I slam the thing like Osama himself is my opponent and I want to tear his toes off, thus the phrase 10 OFF. "Not so hard" she says, hopping around on her left foot after failing to yield to a flying red disk. "For Pete's sake, it's only a game not a missile launching," So we went to the game room and tried our hand at Scrabble, where this time she beat the pants off me.
Later that afternoon we went poolside to catch a few rays and a few hamburgers and check out a snorkeling demonstration. We planned to snorkel on our own at Playa Del Carmen the next day and at Cozumel with a group (including our tablemates Blair and Larry) the day after that. We hung around the pool for awhile, watched a few guys shoot skeet. Some of the shooters were a bit Coronafied so the clay pigeons were in no real danger. "Pull!" BANG! "**** I missed!" was often heard as the afternoon progressed. I was surprised to see how tall and how many drinks were being served. I was also surprised that the pool was full of saltwater.
We did not stay around the pool too long. Diane "convinced" me that we would have fun taking a ballroom dance lesson in the Disco. I knew how to dance, well I could move anyway and do whatever it was that we did in the early 70's that we called dancing. We headed back to our cabin, grabbed a quick spritz, you could hardly call that thing a shower, changed and headed up to the Disco.
We were the first potential students in the disco. There was a small couple there that looked to be quite a bit older than Diane and I. The woman was arranging chairs around the small dance floor and the man (who I couldn't help noticing was wearing a bad toupee) was setting up a portable record player on a table. We said hello and found them to be very animated and friendly. We made introductions all around. Their names were Lenny and Thelma. More people arrived so Lenny and Thelma suggested that to get things rolling they would demonstrate the dance that they were about to teach. Lenny started the record player and over the first few recognizable notes of the music announced in dramatic fashion that we were, in one lesson, going to become masters of "THE TANGO"….. Oh boy. It begins like this; the Man steps forward, woman steps backward.
I watch them carefully. They seemed to know the proper steps but something seemed wrong. It did not look exactly like any Tango I had seen done on TV or in the movies, but of course that is not real life. We were on a cruise ship, which is closer to real life… right? STEP,STEP,STEP,,,SLIDE.,, STEP,STEP,STEP,SLIDE…I whispered to Diane that it looked like they were trying not to step in something nasty, getting in it anyway and then wiping their feet on the floor trying to get it off.. She told me to shut up. STEP, STEP, STEP, SLIDE, STEP, STEP,,DIP. Thelma received a halfhearted backwards bend from her partner. I think Lenny was afraid that if he bent over too far his toupee would end up on her nose. I thought to myself do I really want to learn this? "Yes you are going to do this with me" I forgot that Diane reads half empty minds. Out on the floor we went.
Some frustrated minutes and bruised toes later we finished our lesson. It was my opinion, that trying to learn the Tango as one's first attempt at ballroom dancing coupled with the fact that the dance floor moved on its own every now then seemed a bit hard if not downright silly.
Diane loved it, so it is just possible that my opinion was all wet.
We finished our lesson, gave our thanks to our instructors and headed off to afternoon tea. Now that was something that I could handle without a lesson.
Afternoon tea was great, lots of horse-d-ovaries, canapés and things like that. Dinner was only two and half hours away so Diane nibbled. I stuffed myself. Afterwards we strolled below to our cabin to get dressed for the first formal night.
Diane wore a very attractive light blue and pink silk dress with a simple string of pearls and flat shoes. I put on my best suit, (it happened to be kaki colored) white shirt, tie and leather soled shoes. It did not take us long to change so we had some time to kill before dinner. Diane suggested we go up to the ballroom and practice what we had learned at our Tango lesson….oh boy. Sure why not. She smiled and headed up the stairs. I head down, reluctantly followed.
Well, folks I tried, I really did. We must have been working at it for about thirty minutes
when I did it, I creamed Diane's left foot. I mortally wounded those perfect little toes of hers. At the moment of impact tears came to all our eyes. "Oooooowwwww!"
Off came her shoe and she limped to the nearest chair and set down hard. I expected her to heave her shoe at my head but she held on to it and her temper.
I was just about to make an emphatic apology when I heard a male voice behind me say "Could you use some help?"
I turned around to see a handsome older couple standing by the edge of the dance floor. He was a tall man wearing an obviously custom made tuxedo with a hand tied (at the moment untied) tie and she, much shorter than him, was wearing gold lame' evening slacks with an elegant orange blouse and matching fingernail polish. He reminded me of Tony Bennett and she looked like Janet Leigh, the way she looked in 1987. I don't remember their names so I will Call them Tony and Janet.
Diane, who by this time was worried that I might turn her toes into something that resembled Vienna Sausages, of course said "Yes, we would appreciate any help you can give us." She never asked what kind of help he was offering. We introduced ourselves.
"I see you must have taken Lenny's Tango lesson today." I nodded yes. Tony continued. "Well, Lenny is a very nice man"
"His hair isn't" Janet interjected. Tony smiled, so did I.
"As I was saying, Lenny and Thelma are very nice people, but they have no business giving dance lessons. For some reason Lenny thinks he can, and the captain lets him because he cruises on this ship about sixteen times a year. He practically lives here….anyway, let Janet and I show you how the Tango should be done."
He took her by the hand and the waist, and immediately she seemed to grow a foot taller. He stepped forward, no change that, he glided forward she moved back and across the floor they moved like mercury. No music, not a sound except the smooth rustling of their clothes. They moved as one, smooth and fluid …..one two three, one two three
This is how to dance the tango!
Feel the blood rise to your face
with every beat;
while an arm winds like a snake
around a waist that is about to break.
This is how to dance the tango
and I swore their feet never came off the floor, like they were ice skating. I was amazed.
Somewhere I read that the Tango has beat, impact and nuances. It is not a soft wave turned into music, it is the deepest dance in the world.
Tony and Janet walked over to us. '' Now we show you" Tony took Diane by the waist and Janet took my hand and said….
"The Tango is a dance of seduction. The man must lead, he must lead forcefully, he steps forward the woman steps backward, and you move like water across the floor. And you move as one okay?. Now take my waist and lead me. No do not look at your feet. You cannot seduce a woman by looking at her feet, you must look her deep in the eyes, again!….good, good now you are catching on''
I thought I must have been terrible. Tony said "you know Janet and I watched you too dancing last night, you are very good together even when doing it wrong. You should take lessons. Well, we enjoyed it. Derrick, we will see you on the dance floor tonight eh?"
I nodded yes. "Good, I may ask to dance with your beautiful wife again."
The announcement came over that Main Seating was now being served.
I had completely forgotten about dinner. Can you believe that?
Now you may have noticed that this story seemed to be missing a beginning. That is so. Let me start from the very beginning. Originally it was written for a cruise blog and took days. You get the pleasure of reading it all at once!
I am writing this while on hold with the Virginia Dept of Taxation in order to stop collections proceedings for a business tax bill that I have already paid and the check has cleared the bank. This is something that I have to do at least once a year. I keep hearing the same hold announcements over and over again along with Grazing in the Grass. It is in moments of stress like these that I imagine myself back on the deck of a cruise ship.
In October of 1987, to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary, my wife Diane and I went on our first cruise. It was a present from her father and it could not have come at a better time. For the previous four years I ran a start up telecommunications company that I was part owner of. In spite of, or because of, the fact that I gave it fifteen hours out of most days, I was not able to get it off the ground. So in June of that year my partners decided to sell it. I went to work for the very old, and very well set in their ways, family owned company that bought it. My going to work for them was part of the purchase agreement. The transition from boss to upper level manager was a little rough so I needed a vacation even if I didn't think so myself.
We gave a lot thought to the cruise in the days leading up to it. Planning as a WE is one of the best consequences of cruising. What documents do we bring. What do we wear. What excursions do we take. We had not been a We in a while. We is good.
The first day was a long one. The flight to Miami was fun, the embarkation was fun. Watching the other cruise ships leave with ours was fun. Our ship was the Chandris Galileo. She was a 28,000 ton dazzling white beauty with a big blue X on her stack.
We found our little orange carpeted cabin with the RV like bathroom, explored the ship, held hands, more than we had in years, had an unbelievable dinner, went dancing, went to bed. I was beginning to feel like a new man. After Diane went to sleep I went up on deck for a solitary stroll. I walked aft to a part of the Promenade deck that jutted out over the sea. I turned around and faced forward. Completely alone, I could see down the whole length of the ship. The sky was full of stars. The ocean was a luminous deep blue. In the distance was the lighted outline of our companion cruise ships. The only sound was a divine mixture of the wind, the sea, and the thrum of the ship. I held on to the cool smooth mahogany, closed my eyes and just stood there with the warm 18 knot wind in my face. I remembered something. A verse. "He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul."
I could taste salt. It may have been the spray or it might have been tears. Maybe a bit of both.
Night and Greek Sunrise
I did not sleep much that night. A more accurate way of phrasing it would be I stayed awake well that night. I crawled back into bed with Diane, which was a tight fit since we were sharing a single bed. (Our cabin had an upper berth and two lower beds but I never asked if they could be converted into one.) I laid there, while gently rocking, listening to the sounds around me. Our outside cabin was on the lowest passenger deck and as a result the sound of the ocean was quite strong. There was also a regular creak like a rocking chair accompanied by a clicking noise as the ship moved back and forth then up and down. Creak click, creak, click. In the pale light from our large porthole I could see that the bathroom door latch was a bit loose. ( If I left the door open it would inform us just how much the ship was listing). The motion, the ocean, the creak, muffled steps down the corridor, my wife's baby like snoring, all told me that the ship was alive and breathing. It was one of the most peaceful nights of my adult life.
Sometime before the first gray-blue light of morning I was jostled awake by a very attractive Greek woman rolling across me on her way out of our bed. I awoke to the pleasant sight of Diane in her Adam and Eve nightgown falling to the cabin floor with one brown barefoot trapped in the corner of the blanket. She gave her tootsies a liberating yank, at the same time informing me that we had a dawn to catch. Seeing the dawn was not the first thing on my activity list and I raised an inquiring eyebrow. She was literally hopping into her shorts, at the same time telling me No!, we are going to see the dawn, get dressed! Not being completely stupid I obeyed and then grabbed my Minolta.
I watched Diane's backside (couldn't help myself) as we headed up to the Lido Deck or the Promenade Deck, or the Captain's Deck, one of those decks just in time to see a very distant dark white cloud show the first sign of a new paint job. I steadied my camera on the rail and did not have a long wait for God to put on a very good light show. It was glorious. I happened to look to me left and in the distance an ever enlarging Island was exhibiting its own amazing color changes. The Island of Key West seemed to be sailing toward us at the same time we were moving toward it. I looked at the Sunrise shining on my Greek Girl's smiling face. There was only one thing to say:
"What's for Breakfast?!"
The Promenade Deck (sit down and eat your prunes)
"Sir, breakfast in now being served for first seating in the dining room and the breakfast buffet is on the Promenade Deck."
I turned around and there was a young lady in white shorts and a yellow shirt with a Staff badge on that said Juli, no e. I thanked her.
Breakfast on the Promenade Deck. Made me feel special. The Promenade Deck. The Lido Deck. The Captain's Deck. The MAIN Deck. All these names have a certain old fashioned charm and romantic quality about them. They remind me of the days before the big war (I wasn't there) or even earlier when gigantic 45,000 to 75,000 ton cruise ships crossed the Big Pond on a regular basis. The Mauritania, The Queen Mary, The France, the United States (for years she was dejectedly docked close to my home, Her once magnificent red stacks peeling sheets of paint. It was hard to keep my eyes off her as I made my morning commute). The United States and the others were iron ships with hearts made of brass, mahogany and teak. In those days three types of people sailed on cruises. First Class, Second Class, and Human Baggage. But all were excited at the first shout of "AMERICA". I love those deck names. I missed them when Diane and I were on Explorer of the Seas. I know they can be confusing. One of the comments I heard most often on the Carnival Sensation was "I don't know why I have to go Down to get to the Upper Deck!" Half the time I could not remember where our cabin, M44, was. I now know M stands for Main, I thought it meant Mine. Just kidding. But I digress.
We ran down the stairs (in true maritime stairs are called ladders) one deck. We ran like we were kids trying to pass each other. We skidded up to the buffet and came to a shocked stop. I had never seen anything like it in my life. There was this huge white cloth covered table on the bleached wooden deck of this white ship with the brightest blue sea in the background covered with more breakfast food than any 50 teenage boys could possible eat. And the things they did with watermelons. They were carved in the shape of a grinning Indian with an eagle feather in his hair, a coiled snake, a woven basked with a handle, all done in one piece, and a huge vase of watermelon roses. Diane immediately said "Don't touch anything" She knows me. There were five or six members of the kitchen staff in their white coats and stiff Chef hats standing at attention behind the table, with its stacks of china plates, bowls, cups and saucers, all monogrammed with a gold X in the middle of a gold sunburst . The Chefs had omelet pans, tongs, and carving knifes drawn like sabers to fight off the evil of an empty stomach. Sausage, salmon, bagels, kiwi fruit, (I had no idea what that hairy little thing was) pomegranates, bananas, polenta, white fish, herring, olives (at least 10 kinds) French fries, home fries, hash browns, iced wine buckets with all kinds of juices including pomegranate juice, (for Petes, sake how many seeds did that take?), Mimosas (I still like those) and the pastries, they were piled up in a basket 3 foot high. Also Eggs Benedict, Waffles, Inch thick French toast with powdered sugar, and scrambled eggs. I dug in.
I had some kind of " I can't believe all this food" spasm and jostled a little elderly lady's elbow in line in front of me. She was balancing a heavy china plate on which set a matching bowl full of stewed prunes.
"Sorry," I said "can you believe all this food, and look at the watermelons, and..and that ship it's made of ice. I'll be damned!"
The little lady, prune bowl skating madly on her plate, craned her neck, and squinting in the morning light looked up at me.
"Young man I suggest you sit down and eat Your prunes! And I would like to eat mine!"
She seemed upset so I didn't want to tell her that I hated prunes.
Diane said she thought I should do what the lady suggested.
"But I don't like prunes."
Now we all know that the food on cruises is included but when your are married to someone who is very careful with money, clips coupons, and has three small kids, a husband that is six foot tall and weighs 140 pounds because he has the metabolic rate of a blast furnace, the next line in this story should come as no surprise...
"Then you shouldn't take what you're not going to eat."
I looked at my plate. Located on it was a lot of stuff including smoked salmon ,olives, cream cheese, ham, those hairy brown things, and a mound of scrambled eggs, which made the perfect nest for a large number of stewed prunes.
I guess I should have paid more attention.
We sat down at a table next to the railing. The sun was so bright and hot and felt so good. Two happy people, to huge plates of food, two large wet glasses of iced orange juice glistening in the sun. As part of a pre cruise plan we deliberately ate slowly.
"Enjoying your eggs?" Diane asked.
Being to polite to answer with my mouth full, I gave her a grateful nod.
"Good" She leaned closer for emphasis. "Eat it all, Stick Man."
This was not a reference to the philosophical comment she made earlier about my prunes (at the moment sunbathing on the extreme edge of my plate) No, this comment was a not so veiled reference to a part of the same pre cruise plan. A plan she hatched on the plane down to Miami.
We were in our seats admiring our new sneakers. (buying new sneakers, preferably Reeboks because we are stockholders, has become one of our pre cruise traditions . We buy them weeks before and don't wear them until the first day of the cruise. It's good to have a fresh set of tires when you plan to put a lot of quick miles on them}.
Diane leaned over for emphasis and said "We need to fatten you up, we also need to relax, so this its the plan: rest a lot, read a lot, eat a lot, enjoy it, don't inhale it." Yes Dear. I was too thin. While running "the business" I found most meals to be inconvenient unless they were business related. I skipped breakfast, ate lunch at my desk, and most nights I arrived home so late that I had to eat alone or not at all. I more times than not, choose not at all. I had earned Diane's nickname for me "Stick Man". I was fortunate that she was still sticking with me. I owe her a lot including the fact that I can enjoy scrambled eggs.
Before marrying Diane I hated them. My brother and I liked fried eggs. My mom did not like to cook. My dad did. My mom had to cook when Dad was out at sea. She could manage a few things, She made a mean fried chicken, fried hamburgers, fried green tomatoes, fried bacon, fried eggs. She fixed eggs the way her father liked them. Over Very Easy in bacon grease. Not bad actually, with home fries, and hot coffee sipped from a saucer. My grandfather obviously knew about heat displacement relative to surface area. This was a good cooling technique but I would not suggest using it in the My Fair Lady Dining Room.
Back to my Mom and her eggs. . If the yolk broke the egg was no good and deserved to be punished. Attack it viciously with a fork and scramble it to death! Waste Nothing! Serve its confused and stringy remains to the boys, they will live! I had a hyper active adolescent gag reflex. Breakfast could get very ugly. Mom could get very mad. You get the picture.
On October 9 1972 a Monday Morning that will live in infamy Diane, my new bride who I loved very much, was standing in our rented orange kitchen fixing scrambled eggs for her new hubby's breakfast. She called me and I came down the stairs to find this beautiful long legged Greek Girl, with raven black hair that she could sit on, trying to poison me. I had two choices. I could refuse to eat this, and risk a divorce, or eat it and risk death. I chose death.
She stood there in her baby dolls with this look on her face, a look that only a woman can get when she has just fixed her man, now her new husband, his first meal (or his last).
"Isn't this nice." I said.
They did look edible, fluffy and yellow with, what's this? Onions and green peppers and no bacon grease dripping from my fork. Oh well, life is an adventure and then you die.
I took a small bite, and then a very big bite. I'm Alive! I'm Alive! Thank God almighty my wife can cook!
THE TWO KEYS
I am sitting at my quickly becoming obsolete computer (hey as long as it works for me) listening to Diana Krall. She is singing a good song that goes with this rambling, review- memoir, thing that I'm writing.
How Deep is the Ocean (How High is the Sky)
How much do I love you?
I'll tell you no lie.
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?
How many times a day
Do I think of you?
How many roses are sprinkled with dew?
How far would I travel
just to be where you are?
How far is the journey
from here to a star?
And if I ever lost you
how much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?
Diane has taught me one of the keys to enjoying life and it works for cruising as well. Just roll with it. Don't be afraid to try something new (ESCARGO), don't let a past unpleasantness (refer to above egg discription) dictate your future attitude. Believe me. we have had to practice this mantra on more than one occasion. (story may follow at some point)
There was no unpleasantness on this trip; we just let the Good Times Roll.
We finished breakfast and began wandering around the outside of the ship waiting for our tender group number to be called. The tender from Key West was small. It looked like a Zodiac boat. So we had some time to kill before we could head for the island. The first thing I noticed was now that the ship was at anchor there were crew hanging all over her. Blue overalls were in lowered lifeboats with long handled white paint rollers, they were hanging out the portholes with rust chippers. Crew were clinging to the stack like big blue bugs with paint brushes. The never ending Battle against Rust and Corrosion was once again in full engagement. Ship Shape is the order of the Day!
All the ships that we have cruised on have been in tip top shape. The Enchantment of the Seas had more people polishing the deck than they had passengers walking the deck (at 3 o'clock in the morning). I was afraid that if I stood in one place for too long someone with a Royal Caribbean badge would wipe me down. Ship Shape means something on these ships. It's great! If you make a mess someone else picks it up (not at home) At dinner if you don't like it send it back! (Don't try that at home!) If you want more just ask for it! (at home it depends on what your asking for) Relax! Enjoy! You are now out there, not back there!… Oh…I'm sorry…. didn't mean to get carried away, but we only have forty or so more days to go till our next one. (at the time I wrote this)
We played a couple of games of shuffleboard ( best two out of three-I'm a shuffleboard shark, Diane didn't know that, she lost a big bet, but I can't tell you what the payout was, this is a family forum) We heard our number called so we went below, out to the tender dock on the opposite side of the boat from the island. The tender zoomed around the ship. At this distance she looked absolutely enormous. I started snapping pictures like crazy, Around we went and then the island came into view.
We held hands as we toured around the island,
Would you look at that? Jimmy Buffet's place. Neat.
Now let's review our Plan: relax, go slow, don't inhale it. To Heck With That! We have exactly 3 hours and 42 minutes to see the whole island of Key West ... Run!
What's that over there? Hey would you look at that, is that a zucchini tree? Oh I thought they grew in trees. That shop looks cool lets go over there! Why? I forgot to pack my swimsuit. I set it out for you stupid! That one looks great on you. No it doesn't make your legs look skinny, your legs are skinny. I'm thirsty, we gotta grab a cup of that red stuff over there, I don't care if it cost 4 dollars, time is money! I want a picture of that. Hold Still! Are you trying to take a picture of it or me? Where is Hemingway's house?, I know it must be around here somewhere. Let me have that map, you have never been able to read a map. Here it is. How do you know? I don't see a sign. It must be, look at all the people standing in front of it. They are lost too. Man, its almost time to head back and I'm hungry. Hungry? You should have eaten your prunes. I don't like prunes. Wait, Derrick, Derrick look mother of pearl earrings exactly like the necklace you bought me in San Francisco, can we buy them, please?, please? Diane, if they make you happy get them, have anything that you want. You mean it? We didn't bring a lot of money you know. Diane this is a once in a lifetime trip get them. Oh, I love them, thank you. Kiss, Kiss, gotta go.
We made it back to the ship and I really was hungry. As for the prunes, I figured I was better off without them. Key West was a moving experience good enough for me (sorry couldn't resist).
After the Second Tango Lesson
We left the ballroom and headed to the dining room. Larry and Blair were already seated and Enzo was patiently waiting for us. We sat down. My hope was that the dinner conversation would be better than it was on the first night. The first night consisted of introductions, where froms, airline critiques, and things like that. Tonight we got to the what do you dos. Larry became a little deflated when I informed him that I owned my own company and had recently sold it. I guess he was overwhelmed because he thought I was a mucho successful business owner. He perked up when my wife told him that I had to sale or go bust. With pride, he told me that he was in the hardware distribution business. He seemed to deflate again when Blair translated that to mean he worked in his father's hardware store. I found that interesting and told him so. I also told him that I earned the money to pay for the technical school that I had attended by working for a summer in a hardware store. That's nice, he said.
Actually the summer I spent working at Reynolds's True Value Hardware was a good one. I learned about good and bad customer service. I learned that there are both good and bad customers. I learned that they are called wing nuts not butterfly nuts. (There is a joke there but never mind) I learned how to rip plywood, thread pipe, avoid a mad female Doberman, assemble lawn mowers, bicycles, and all kinds of lawn furniture. I also learned how to demonstrate and sell portable washer and dryers, pop up campers, power tools and vacuum cleaners. I learned that anything sold to the maritime industry is expensive because they need it in a hurry, and it needs to be made of brass.
Of course when I worked there I had no idea that I would one day make good money traveling around the world installing phone systems on ships. That's one of the things I do now. They are expensive and there is some brass involved. And they usually need them in a hurry, even when it means traveling to Diego Garcia.
Tonight I ordered the Prime Rib and a good bottle of wine to share. The wine seemed to make dinner a little more enjoyable. We chatted for a while, drank for a while, ate dessert, finalized our plans for the next day and headed off to the Fantasy Lounge to try out our new Tango skills.
As soon as we walked into the lounge, Tony and Janet spotted us and waved us over to two seats next to them. We sat down and not being drinkers of hard stuff, ordered a couple of Virgin Coladas. The drinks arrived, they where not Virgins. After a couple of sips, we didn't care.
Janet tapped Diane on the knee and pointed to the dance floor. Our first instructors, Lenny and Thelma, were there doing their thing. Janet said they looked like a couple of strutting pigeons. That description seemed quite accurate to me.
Tony asked me if he could dance with Diane, and of course I said sure. Tony offered Diane his arm and they walked to the floor. Tony then said something to the band leader and a couple of seconds later the band started playing the Tango. Diane and Tony glided across the floor like they had been dancing together for years. It looked magical. Thelma and Lenny, they looked, well, they looked like they had been strutting together for years.
The dance ended, Diane and Tony, who seemed to be limping slightly, sat back down. I then found out that Tony was a professional dancer and dance instructor. He had danced musical theater and also owned a number of dance studios. He retired from dancing professionally after breaking his ankle in a car accident. Now his and Janet's full time job was cruising. He also told me that if the conditions were just right, his ankle would quit hurting and allow him to glide across the floor once more. Twice today the conditions had been just right.
I think Diane was flattered. She should be.
She and I danced until the place closed. We then went for a walk and sometime in the AM went to bed in our single bunk. It was a tight fit, which after a few minutes became even tighter.
The next day while on the white beach at Playa del Carmen we were entertained by the crew. They challenged us (the passengers) to volleyball, horseshoes, and a mean round of tug of war. They let go of the rope during that contest. My butt was bruised for days when I landed on somebody's knee. I also received a very good sunburn that day. I slept in the other bunk that night. Diane was disappointed, I'm sure.
PS you can expect a lot of interesting stories here...now that Diane, Teddy Bear and I are living and traveling fulltime in our motorhome..so stay tuned as they say.