Saturday, June 02, 2007

Some Thoughts on Cruising

Wifey and I just got back from the honeymoon, which was a cruise to Cozumel and Progresso. It's not exactly germane to sports or hip-hop, but I had some thoughts about the trip. Taking a cruise is a singularly American experience, and I recommend everyone do it once. If nothing else, at least read David Foster Wallace's essay on the phenomenon.


That tumbler was my best friend for five days. (Umm...other than my wife I suppose.) I smuggled rum in through an iced tea bottle and paced it with me everywhere in that tumbler, mixing it in with Coke or lemonade or whatever. At a buffet one time, I saw a kid loading soft-serve ice cream into one of those same half-liter tumblers. I told him, "Dude, I see what you're doing...and I like it." He didn't catch the reference.

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There are many unspoken contracts at work on the boat. The cruise company hires aloof foreigners from over fifty different countries to serve you, and they claim it's just because they value diversity.

Really it's because Americans are so disconnected from native Europeans and Asians it allows them to simultaneously do two things: a) treat these workers like shit out of their own sense of superiority, like , "Oh, the Phillipines sucks. He's lucky to be on this ship picking up my trash and basking in my greatness." and b) still feed off the dignified air of these foreigners and trick themselves into thinking that the best workers from across the world have been culled to clean their vomit off the Lido Deck. (When it's really more like no American would go onto a ship for eight months at a time to clean vomit off the Lido Deck.)

Meanwhile, these foreign workers smile behind our backs because all of their opinions of Americans are being validated as they're seeing us at our gluttonous, lazy worst. Out of all this diversity, no one is learning any perspective. I had a fantastic time by the way.


I'm not a singer: I'm a performer.

- I'm not going to come right out and say that I'm the best karaoke singer you know, but if I have a few drinks and instrumental versions of...

1. Wham!- "Careless Whisper"
2. Usher- "Burn"
3. Cheap Trick- "I Want You to Want Me"
4. any late '90s rap song

I will get a party started.

- A lot of friends have asked me how many cheeseburgers I ate, and the answer is misleading because Carnival's deli and salad bar had the requisite ingredients for the Tuna Tank, my favorite sandwich. At least once a day, I paced the concoction of tuna salad, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and light honey mustard on ciabatta bread. But to answer your question, I had six or seven burgers as well.

- They totally put a laxative in the food. I've never been more sure of anything in my life.

- Half of the 3,000 or so cruise passengers were from Texas, which was made apparent whenever a comedian or the cruise director (whose name was Goose) gave them a shout-out and they all screamed "yee-haw" or whatever. I've never understood this: someone has acknowledged that the state in which I live exists, so I have to make myself known. I don't really care if someone else is from New Orleans or not. Not enough to yell "woooo" at least.

- There are only four hot tubs on board, and only six people can fit into each. So Wifey and I kept our eyes peeled for an open one and settled on the one under the slide, which had a few kids in it. When we got in, this kid, about seven years old I guess, informed us, very business-like, "Uh, the hot tub for grown-ups is over there." I was kind of impressed.


If you can't beat them, go on their slide over and over again just to keep them standing in line.

- It doesn't matter if you're naturally cynical or not, at some point your relationship with the cruise company becomes really mean-spirited. By day two I was saying things like, "Look, you charged me $12 to use the Internet for twenty-one minutes. I'm eating all of the tiramisu I possibly can."

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When you eat in the formal dining room for dinner, you're seated with the same strangers for the whole week; but at breakfast and lunch, you are seated with completely random people. Small talk leads to me explaining that I'm from New Orleans. This always led to, "Oh, so would you like to be reminded of the biggest natural disaster in the history of the country and how it devastated your state economically, socially, and culturally? I hear it was very sad." People meant well, but by the end I just wanted to tell them, "Yeah. I'm from fucking Houston."

- Speaking of Houston, it's probably the worst place to be from in the country. Every time I saw some dude with a moustache not taking his hat off in the dining room or not putting his napkin on his lap, I wanted to yell, "I don't care if you have an Escalade and horses. You have no cultural identity except for lots of traffic and inventing lean."

- No homo, but going to the topless deck is not as good of an idea as you think. I saw things I'll never unsee.

- Most people on our excursion didn't even seem to care about seeing the pyramids. When our tour guide made us wait at the gift shop for thirty minutes before letting us in, and we were subjected to a debate among teenagers over whether or not Mezcal was stronger than tequila, we decided we had to go it alone. Without a tour guide, Wifey and I pretty much made it through the whole park, and we didn't have to listen to dumbasses. Being a teacher is going to suck.


Why yes, those are the Mayan ruins of Chichen-Itza. And twenty years from now, when I'm showing this picture to my kids, they'll be like, "Daddy, why were you wearing a plain white t-shirt two sizes too big for you?" And I'll probably just mumble something about white guilt and/or irony. The rest of my life is going to be so easy.

- At an art auction on-board, Wifey and I almost dropped $600 we don't have on a gorgeous Itzchak Tarkay serigraph. We thought better of it, but for the rest of the trip, we compared everything's price to the painting. "Shit, babe! That margarita was one one-hundredth of an Itzchak Tarkay!" Maybe you had to be there.

- Every cruise has someone who seems to be everywhere at once. On ours, this person was a stocky bleached blonde named Tinah. The first night we saw her lighting up a rendition of "Baby Got Back" in the karaoke lounge, and we ran into her many times after that. Whenever we saw Tinah somewhere, be it the Stripes Club or the Blue Sapphire auditorium, we knew it was the place to be. The only thing we actually heard her say was a snippet of conversation after the Cozumel port: "I mean, I fit the whole thing into my mouth. Now that's a talent." Tinah was the MVP of our cruise.

- I've been married for seven days, and it's still going strong. But the NBA Finals start next week.

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