Friday, August 13, 2010

On the undersea road again

Installment 3 of the mobilog. CLT is fast approach as Bermuda recedes in the marine equivalent of the rear view mirror. Happy trails.


Night and day

This evening marked something of a turn around for me on this trip and I'd like to share that with you if I might. I also want to put out there that my observations should provide ample fodder for any number of psychological or sociological studies leading towards a PhD dissertation. So if you do get the idea for your doctorate from one of things I have noted, show a little love. Just saying.

When I came back to the room after connecting to the real world, I found Julie mostly asleep in bed while Talia was in bed as well, watching a horror movie. Maddie came in an announced that she wanted to go to an earlier illusionist show with me since Julie obviously looked like she was going to pass on the evening's festivities. I had already agreed to get Julie and Talia's food and deliver it to the room so when Maddie reported this change I didn't fight it. So Maddie and I went to dinner. We found that our table was actually beautifully set with our plasticware (instead of having to ask for it and having it splayed across the table haphazardly). Maddie and I sat for a meal that, at least on my end, was actually pretty good. Maddie's lasagna was not so good she reported but my beef was warm, tasty and filling. The only glitch was that when all the waiters came to the table to sing Happy Birthday to me, they delivered a piece of non-kosher cake so I couldn't top the meal off with celebratory cake. But on the whole, I left happy. This was the first satisfying meal I have had all week. When I came back to the cabin, I gorged on cookies only because I wanted to, not because I had to. Refreshing. This is good because today's research indicated that there is no chabad in Bermuda. On the plus side, there is no chabad in Bermuda so the position is available. I'm about one beard away from working in paradise.

Upon our return, Maddie and Julie had one of their 'conversations' about the evening's plan which we knew was over when Maddie went to go read in the library. Things have to be pretty tense for Maddie to go to a library. I went to the hot tub because why not? Hot tubs and sun burns don't really mix but once you get past the shock and initial searing pain, you can really enjoy the dull throbbing ache. I soaked until the time approached for the family disco night which was right at the pool so I met Julie and soon Talia there. We hung around – there was some dancing, some games and some running back to the room to get this or that. All of this killed the hour until it was time for the illusionist. We sat in our seats in the theater and I discovered two things about life on the ship. Sociology students, begin

1. Bingo is frigging huge. I mean, I know some people like it, but the line for bingo cards, and even the fact that we were having a quick game in the theater before the illusionist indicates that people just can't get enough bingo. This might be an independent phenomenon, or might reflect that the ship's casino is closed while we are in port and people feel the need to throw money away and bingo fills that void.
2. People aren't just friendly, they feel the need to share their life's story. Just because I'm sitting next to you in a theater, sharing a bus ride or waiting in line for an attraction doesn't mean I care anything about your life. Stop asking me where I'm from or how I like the trip and don't tell me about your life (and any connection you have to Judaism). If I wanted friends, well, I would be someone else entirely.

The illusionist had a combination of card tricks, audience participation, sleight of hand, levitation and big prop-illusions. Not bad at all. I could have done without some of the music and histrionics but it was very pleasant. I'm thinking of going out and getting a night cap and then falling asleep. All in favor say aye. The ayes have it. Not a bad few hours.

And Aweigh we go
At the bar, I watched a young man get carded and he commented that I was probably no older than 25. What a nice kid. Sadly, the future of our country is doomed because the youth can't spot a 41 year old, but whatever. I got back to the room a bit later and we all writhed ourselves to sleep as the light sheets rubbed viciously at our sunburn.

The morning was stressful as we rushed to get out for the 8:45 meeting time. The drizzle made us wonder about whether our Snuba experience would go off as planned but we trudged outside to the boat. We sat up top as the sun and clouds chased each other around but 20 minutes later (after the 9:15 start) we got off at the Nine Beaches resort area. As resorts go, this was fairly, um, understated. Each of the nine beaches (naming in Bermuda is pretty literal) was fairly small and the amenities were a small giftshop, a wooden bar, a changing area and the dock. We were broken into groups and introduced to the various activities. The instructor (Eric on the beach and Michael Dudley something in the water) taught us about our equipment. Snuba, for those of you who haven't googled it yet, is like Scuba except the air is on the raft and each swimmer is linked via a hose to the air. All this seems perfectly reasonable except for one thing. None of us knew that this is what we signed up for and none of us was ready for it. We aren't really the adventurous family and we thought that some sort of snorkeling was what was going to happen. But after some bumps at the beginning, we did it and it was way cool. There wasn't too much fish-life (not a single fish disco or fish bar) and we didn't go too far out but it was really neat! Talia had some difficulty so she stayed above water for part of the time, but still enjoyed it. I'd have to say that while I really had a pleasant time, Sponge Bob completely inflated my expectations to unreal, almost cartoon like levels. When we got back to the beach, Julie and Maddie went for a more traditional snorkeling while Talia and I explored the food we had packed in our bags.

On the boat ride back, we struck up a conversation with a woman on the Kosher Cruise and then after a short dip in the hot tub (Julie went into a thelassotherapy pool – saltwater with jacuzzi bubbles at 95 degrees) and some ice cream, we met one of the parents of a girl Maddie met on board. We chatted until it was time for his massage and then we returned to our room. The woman we met on the boat delivered some extra food from her snack tables so we could see how real Jews eat and then Julie went to go work out. I haven't the slightest idea where the girls are. We are preparing to say goodbye to Bermuda and begin shabbos on board.

On the sea plus more

We have just recently cast off from Dockway and a whole bunch of people made sure to watch because the most exciting thing is moving away from shore. It is so much more exciting than moving once you are away from shore. The band even stopped and told everyone to move to the port side (that’s ship-speak for “the side with the stuff”) to watch as we moved to the starboard. All very spiritual and (wait for it) moving.

As we drift off into the wide Saragasso sea and the Atlantic ocean, thoughts abound in my head. And I was just told that this Internet lounge will be used for a class in 10 minutes so I have to pontificate quickly or the people who came aboard a cruise ship to learn how to use a computer might be disappointed.

People everywhere on this ship are wearing uniforms. This has a couple of effects. The first is that I give everyone more respect than I would were I to know their true rank and job. A maintenance man gets me to salute when he was epaulets on his shoulder. But the flip side to that is that I start to lose respect for all the people in uniforms because I can’t tell who truly deserves it. Is that guy the captain or is he coming to pick up my used towel? Is she the cruise director or the waiter? So I have found the perfect compromise. I meet everyone I see with a smart salute and an empty glass. Then I flip them all the bird. The great equalizer, I am.

It is a relief to be back at sea. Now when I wobble, I can blame the movement of the ship, not the gravitational pull of planet X.

I’ll try to update this now and then take a shower and get to shul. Good shabbos all and I’ll see you after the return to NJ.

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