Wednesday, July 20, 2005

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite vacation memories:

1) The music director for the cruise had an odd sense of humor. I kept hearing songs that seemed inappropriate for a ship like "Bridge over Troubled Water" and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". Had this been any other place than a cruise ship, I would have credited it to a black sense of humor.

2) One night at dinner, a guy in a pirate costume and a photographer visited each table. The pirate posed with pairs of people, making a traditional pirate "Arrrrrr!" face, while the photographer snapped a photo. (These photos were later available for purchase for about $15.) I watched as couple after couple smiled sweetly in their picture with the fake pirate. When he got to me and my wife, I amused myself by ruining the picture by making an "Arrrrr!" face along with the pirate. Days later, when I went to check out the pictures, I was charmed to find that my wife, unbeknownst to me, had done the exact same thing in the photo. In a wall full of pirate pictures, ours was the only one where adult passengers had made a funny face. I bought the picture.

3) On the first night of the cruise my father announced that thieves had raided his luggage. Although he had locked his main suitcase compartment, my father had apparently hastily thrust two old swimsuits into an unlocked side pocket while packing. The rest of the family, myself included, assured my father that no one wanted his 20 year-old swimsuits and that he had made a mistake. He steadfastly insisted they had been swiped.

We mocked my father about this for the remainder of the trip. We regaled each other with tales of ruthless bands of marauding pirate swimsuit thieves, desperately plundering the summer fashions of 20 years past. My father took this in good humor, coming up with various reasons as to why someone might have taken his ancient swimsuits. We got tons of laughs out of this, warning my father to keep an eye out at the pool for his swim trunks, lest he spot the thief enjoying his spoils.

On the final night of the trip my mother informed me that my father had found his swimsuits in another pocket. I'm not sure whether this ruins the story or is the punchline. Or maybe the thieves were done swimming.

4) One of the annoying aspects of the cruise was that we had to dress up to eat dinner in the dining room, including two semi-formal nights. Midway through the cruise my wife noted that she had consistently been wearing cleavage-baring outfits. "I hope your family isn't sick of my tits," she warned, putting on a slinkly little number.

Babe, if I may speak on behalf of my family: Nope.

5) My daughter and I walked into the ship store one evening to buy some candy. The cashier let out a mighty yawn just as we walked up.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" she apologized.
"No, WE apologize for being boring customers," I reassured her. I pointed at my daughter and commanded, "Daisy, dance for the cashier!"

My daughter then launched into an impromptu dance, utilizing her typical combination of ballet and irish jigs.

I don't know at what age kids get too self conscious to do crap like this, but I'm dreading the day.

6) One morning before the cruise, when we were still in Maryland, staying at a not-so-fancy hotel, we came downstairs at noon and asked the lady at the desk where we could go find some coffee.

"Oh, we've got coffee right here!" she said, eagerly pointing at an hours-old urn of coffee.

I looked at my wife, pleading with her to help me get out of this without sounding like a snob, but she wasn't quick enough.

"Uh...We're hoping for some faaaaancy coffee," I said, hoping that the emphasis on 'faaaancy' correctly conveyed that I knew I was being a douche-bag, "You know like a latte. Is there a Starbucks or something like that around here?"

"Oh!" piped up another clerk, "There's an Exxon station down the street!"

We weren't in San Francisco anymore.

7) Our last island excursion was to Cozumel, Mexico. It was a hot day and one of the umpteen gift shops we encountered had popsicles. I bought a couple of them and proudly presented these allergen-free treats to my wife and child. My wife daintily took a couple slurps and then said, "What about the water in Mexico? I don't think we should eat these."

"Oh, it'll be fine." I said, while my daughter and I eagerly gobbled down some more. However, after a moment of reflection, I realized that I didn't want to be the cause of Montezuma's revenge (vicious diarrhea), so I threw away the unfinished popsicles.

Very early the next morning my wife crawled out of bed to the bathroom. She spent about 20 minutes in there, flushing the toilet repeatedly. I eyed her as she came back to bed, not meeting my gaze.

"Don't talk to me, popsicle boy!" she whispered fiercely.

Apparently my wife, who had eaten the smallest amount of popsicle, was the only one in our family to become afflicted with the...uh...repercussions. And, to add insult to injury, there's no innocuous way to get Pepto-Bismol on a cruise ship. Due to previous outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases sweeping through entire cruise-ship populations, you can only get diarrhea medicine if you report to the ship doctor (Doc!), and fill out forms from the Center for Disease Control. I navigated those waters for the wife as penance for the popsicle sin.

8) The flight home was about 5.5 hours, but we put our daughter in a row with her two cousins and the three of them played and chatted quietly throughout the entire flight. It was, without a doubt, the most remarkable flight I've ever been on. I hope to fly Cousins Air again.

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