Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Dream Part Three - Spring Break

March is upon us now, and spring is in the air… The snow is beginning to thaw, trees are blossoming, the birds chirp and sing… and on board the Norwegian Dream its one big friggin’ boozed up spring drink stagger-a-poloza! Come one come all, and join us as this once majestic cruise liner magically transforms into a party barge! The Gulf of Mexico becomes more of a Lake Travis as the median age of our passengers plummets from 52 to 41 this cruise, and by next cruise about seven hundred people will be between the ages of 18 and 26. The times they are a changing’ around here. Even the first night of this cruise there was a feeling of transition on board…

Not my cabin, but one of the passengers’ down the hall from mine. If this boat’s a rockin’… Still, for every night there must be a day, and the next morning as I was walking out that very same corridor the sock was replaced by the unmistakable smell of pee. Ahh… pee… As a matter of fact, the smell of pee lingered heavily in that general area for several days. Sometime yesterday, I think, they finally steamed the carpet, but the gentle aroma lingers… of pee.

Actually, for the next few weeks we actually have two of Texas’ finest on board with us. Dody and Tracey are two cops in the La Porte area who also work as local port authorities when we disembark. While on board their jobs are to keep the peace and make sure no one gets too stupid while enjoying their Mexiribean cruise. So far, they have busted a couple of kids for marijuana, and they were kicked off the boat in Progresso. Otherwise things have been closer to the norm around here, their time taken up by watching all the turistas borrachas (and turistos borrachos) drink themselves into their senior year. We had a crew party last night, and Dody and Tracey were there, off the clock and rum punch firmly in hand.

The crew party was to celebrate Women’s Day, or National Women’s Day, or something that had to do with Women. James, my good buddy and crew welfare chairman, bought something like 300 roses in Cozumel and every woman in attendance received one. There was food, the rum punch I mentioned earlier, and dancing. Suspiciously, I have not heard of a Man’s Day… I suppose if there was one, you could hand out beef jerky and pork rinds… Actually, that’s not a bad idea… Beef jerky sounds pretty good right now… with teriyaki flavor… or smoked… yeah, and they have crushed pepper on the sides, and you just sit there with a whole big bag that is meant for like 10 people and you just eat it all… and wipe your hands on your shirt and open another bag… and people would walk by and stare, cause you’d do this at your local mall or child care facility, but you wouldn’t care, ‘cause you’d be eating beef jerky… and pie… remember last week when we talked about pie? That still sounds awesome…
Anyway, the crew party was excellent.
The shows, in case you are still wondering, are going just as well as can be. I have had a sore throat for the past week or so, but the doctor said it was nothing serious. So as of this writing (March 8th) I have finished my regiment of penicillin and things are almost back to normal. But other than my ailment, everything show wise is peachy. There was a lady who was sound asleep in the front row during our country revue. Her mouth was open as she sawed logs on the shoulder of her husband (I assume… it could have just been the guy sitting next to her.) And that is the state of the shows… knockin’ em’ dead in the front rows.

It has been an overcast week this cruise. Sunday, on our way from Texas to Progresso was a rocky one. Not the type of seas that makes your face green, but enough to be annoying. All of our ports were windy and cool, which is tough if you are nursing a sore throat and trying to get some sun. Still, that didn’t stop us from playing some beach volleyball. We got a game going with some folks who were on the ship, and everything was going well until somehow we treed the ball into a palm. Peter, our other male singer from Towumba, Australia, was resourceful enough to be able to climb the tree and free the ball, thus continuing our frigid game. Here’s a picture…

Later that night some of us decided it would be a good idea to play a game of basketball on the ship. We have a court on deck 13, which is an outdoor deck above the salon. We waited until 10 o’clock (After the salon had closed… this is because a simple dribble of the ball sounds like King Kong to the folks getting manicures and massages below) and then began our futile efforts.

Now, those of you who knew me in my youth can attest that my “skills” at basketball were… limited. I knew all the basics of the game… dribble, pass, shoot. Still, it wasn’t uncommon for my buddies to award me a point if my ball made contact with the rim… I only say this to preface the following story, not because I am not the best basketball player, but because of the insurmountable odds of the game at this particular time and place.

Now sometimes the open sea can be extremely calm and pleasant. The ship cruises along the water and the air is cool and still. This particular night, however, the wind was blowing at a least a million miles an hour, angrily whipping us like a red headed step child failing algebra (and no, I don‘t condone the study of algebra). The court is located pretty close to the bow of the ship, and since it is the highest point, there isn’t much in the way of… well… getting in the way of the wind. So, dribbling the ball required extra finesse, shooting the ball required a slight adjustment in aim, and passing would usually end up in knocking another guy in the face or gut. But, being men, we decided that mother nature couldn’t stop us… and then the accidents started to happen.

Frederico works in the shore excursion department. Argentian by birth and Norwegian by employment, he is probably the most athletic of the bunch and no stranger to a contest involving a ball and scoring system. Five minutes into the game, he trips over another guy and twists his ankle. We get some ice and take care of what will be a sprain. After ten minutes Peter gets back from walking Frederico to his cabin, and we decide that the ankle was merely an accident, not an omen, and continue to pretend to be prominent card carrying members of the National Basketball Association. Minutes later a pass to Peter turns into a bloody nose.

We decide to play horse after that.

After about half an hour Peter and I have an “H” and Andrew and Will have an “H O.” The wind has gone from a million miles and hour to something like a million billion miles an hour. The ball is whipped out of the air and slammed into the net that separates our open deck from the sun decks below like Ken Griffy Jr swinging at the world’s ugliest pinata without a blindfold. Or, if you prefer a golf metaphor, please picture Tom Daly after a weekend of boozing and knocking golf balls into the side of his trailer. Anyway, you could roll the ball across the court, and six feet later it’d be screaming back at you. So, with heavy hearts, twisted ankles and bloody noses we assumed defeat… Mother Nature 1, Man 0.

Oh did I mention I have a tattoo? Yeah, I decided that it was high time to get one, since it’s spring break and all. So, in Cozumel I drank me a whole bunch of margaritas and got a great big tattoo… of a margarita… on my arm. Okay, so really I was on the ship, and I drank a whole bunch of herbal decaffeinated tea (for my sore throat) and went to the airbrush tattoo artist. And while I didn’t get a margarita tattooed on my arm, I wanted something that was tough… a tattoo that said to the men “back off” and to the women “come closer.” It had to be something unique… eye catching. I decided on this one:

Here is my friend Anna, who is the resident tattoo artist on board, posing with her most recent client.

Next week I think I’ll get one of the dogs from Disney’s “101 Dalmatians.” As for now, I can’t wait to get into the gym with my tank top on. I’m gonna go when its most crowded and get one of them pink weights and grunt and groan loudly as I do my reps… ONE! TWO!!! FEEL THE BURN!!! This is what I choose to do with my free time.

So, all in all life is pretty good on The Dream. And now that my mint soother has reached the bottom of the mug, I shall leave you so I can get my friggin’ billionth cup of hot tea. Hope all is well where you are reading this, and I’ll holler at y’all next week.

Your pal,

Michael Lamendola

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