Where’ve I Been, You Ask? Don’t Ask

19 Jun

by Roger White


Ahoy, fellow earthbound mugwumps. Your friendly psychoneurospiritual travel agent is back. For those devoted few (OK, one) who follow Ye Olde Spouse week in and week out, please accept my hipdeep apologia for the extended absinthe. Absence. Whatever. For you occasional delvers into these parts, I’ve been gone, you see. Way. Far. Gone. And boy, are my arms tired (rimshot).

Spouseman took some time off, seeking clarity, hoping for a gander at the real me and maybe even some face time with That That Is. None of that happened, so I cleaned up the paraphernalia and hauled the family down to Galveston. Then we took one of those giant floating cities on a cruise down Meh-hee-co way. I am still processing the whole thing.

If you’ve never been on one of these behemoth boats, imagine cramming the whole population of, say, Alpine or Marble Falls into a 12-story, 900-foot-long gently swaying apartment building with bad plumbing. Also imagine that each resident occupies living quarters approximately the size of an extra-wide Kenmore refrigerator box.

But there is cable TV. And little mints on your pillows. And every night, you find on your bed all your bathroom towels magically morphed into bizarre sea creatures, cute animals, or whatever else your cabin steward feels like crafting on a whim. I think our guy got bored or perhaps a bit miffed that I kept mispronouncing his name after the first couple of days because by the third night, we found our towels formed into a bust of Jeffrey Dahmer.

Now, your first day on board you must practice your lifesaving drill. Your lifesaving drill involves finding your way past dozens of stairs, bars, and cocktails in coconut shells to your assigned muster station, where you stand like a sweating dork with several hundred other sweating dorks, apparently mustering. I kept trying in vain to listen to the Filipino man in the inflatable life vest while, standing right next to me, three heavy-tonnage drunks from Odessa sang “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” at the top of their lungs.

About all I was able to make out was the following: “…very important to remember that unless you … pour me somethin’ tall an’ strong! … must be inflated properly or … make it a hurricane before I go insane! … could mean death by drowning. Have a wonderful cruise.”

Although the pools aren’t very big, there are a lot of them. There’s a pool by the buffet, a pool by the giant-screen TV, a hot tub next to the casino, a pool on the Lido Deck, a water slide that ends in a pool on the Panorama Deck, etc. And next to each of these pools a heaving throng of scantily clad people jiggle endlessly to the Macarena. Yes, they’re still playing that song. And no, the words “scantily,” “clad,” and “jiggle” shouldn’t be misconstrued. The booties shaking here, wooh—let’s just say this is bounty best left buried. Under many layers of opaque clothing. (shudder of remembrance here)

Rather unfair of the cruise types, if you ask me, to have the buffet parked in such close proximity to the thundering, line-dancing herd. Renders the triple-cheese soup and skillet-seared steak and warm chocolate melting cake a bit unsavory.

Everything you hear about the food is true, though. Good and bad. There’s terrible fare, and there is some spectacular feasting to be had (chiefly at the sit-down dinners, mind you). And yes, you will get fat. Just count on it.

The ports of call in the Western Caribbean jaunt are pretty enough, but you have just enough time in port to be accosted by an army of souvenir hawkers (“because you my friend, only $45”), buy a genuine Cozumel shot glass made in China, eat a meal authentic enough to send the mighty Montezuma himself running, and then crowd back onto the ship like so many sun-scorched cattle. Moo.

It’s all about the money, you see. And your smiling cruise ship people want your hard-earned hash to be slung on board, not on land. So you get a few hours off ship, max. And speaking of the green stuff, unless you are astronomically lucky, are a professional poker player from Amarillo, or are some kind of Rain Man, set not one foot in the ship’s casino. Good God Almighty, you might as well just hand over a C note to the casino cashier and go to bed. I tried many games in there, and I’m here to tell you that cruise ship casino machines are tighter than Bruce Jenner’s face. You’ve been warned.

I hoped to meet some exotic people from far-away lands on our adventure. And I did. Our cabin steward, who fashioned a striking Ted Bundy towel bust our last night on board, was from Thailand, I think. Or maybe it was Seattle. But every single cotton-pickin’ passenger I met was from Texas. It was like being in a Fort Worth bar every night, except with a pervasive septic aroma. OK, then, it was like being in a Lubbock bar every night. Period.

Oh, one more thing. Forget all that jazz about getting your sea legs. The rocking of the ship is not that bad; you get used to it. What’s tough is getting your land legs back. I found myself at work the Monday after I got back, gently swaying and zig-zagging down the hall.

It took an hour and a half to convince my boss I wasn’t off the wagon again.


Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.




2 Responses to “Where’ve I Been, You Ask? Don’t Ask”

  1. shrink on the couch June 19, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Hilarious! After this piece, I’m guessing cruise lines will be not be lining up to advertise on your blog. Which can be a good thing.

  2. Rusty Pope July 31, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    LOL… did the Mexican Riveria cruise. Cost me $4000.00 in Art Work. Why do they sell art on the boat…. Suckers like my wife and I. We did win in the casino but not 4g’s so the House still won….. RP

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