Monday, October 18, 2004

My Tale of Woe

I just can't seem to get back into the swing of things. I'm unreasonably tired and I think I've contracted Estrogen poisoning.

I truly wonder if anyone even wants to hear about my cruise at all. I think I'll just tell a few stories here and there, to try and resist going completely insane.

Okay. So first let me introduce the cast of characters.

First on the list in CB, my best friend and neighbor.

Next is Big K (CB actually calls her that because she's too BIG for her britches). Big K is the biggest control freak I've ever met. She always knows better. She couldn't ever possibly be wrong. And she is the queen of indecisiveness, excuses, and bitter complaining. She's married to an absolute freak and her two-year-old son is such a monster that I won't let my kids ever be around him.

Then comes S1. S1 is CB's college friend and hails from the mid-west. She's married to a seemingly great guy and has three little boys ranging in age from 2 to 7. She's supermodel thin and fairly attractive. And most importantly, although she also has trouble making decisions, her friendly demeanor more than makes up for any other personality flaws.

And finally there is S2. S2 is CB's friend from her first base. Her husband is an up-and-comer in the military world and they have two sweet little children, a boy and girl aged 7 and 5. S2 was born and raised in Texas and you can tell. She has the big hair and accent to prove it. She is admittedly indecisive too, but as sweet as the ice tea in Texas.

Our trip started with a six-hour long drive to New Orleans, where CB, Big K, and I would be meeting the 2 S's at the terminal. Did you know that if you put three women in a car, they can talk non-stop for six-hours? I had no idea.

Between the two of them, Big K and CB must have called and checked up on their husbands a couple dozen times. "Don't you want to call your husband?" they asked me. Ah, no. I'm pretty sure he is an adult and capable of handling anything on his own. Of course, at the time, I didn't know that he and the boy were puking non-stop.

There was some debacle with trying to grab lunch in New Orleans which ended up with me and CB trying to translate some unknown language in a Popeye's while Big K impatiently idled in her car at the curb. We ended up carrying two bags of fried chicken all over New Orleans and into the cruise terminal, where we had our own little picnic when we met up with the two S's. Because, you know, who knew if they'd have any food on the boat?

The nice thing about traveling on an older and smaller cruise ship is that our status as Verandah deck passengers (cabin V2) provided us with VIP service. There was a separate line to embark and everything.

Which seemed really cool, until we got on the ship and saw our room. It turns out that Big K had switched our room a couple of weeks before sailing, because our original room had a partially obstructed view. She oh-so-wisely ended up switching us to a handicapped room. Which meant no jaccuzi tub. (There was one of those shower heads that just sits next to the toilet, turning your entire bathroom into a shower.) There was one less bed. And there were no wells on the doors.

Let me explain some cruise ship physics for you. When it rains out, your balcony may fill with water. Those little sills that hold up the doors keep this water from surging into your room. And boy did it rain. Same with the bathroom. When your entire bathroom fills with water, and the ship rocks so hard that the water makes it's own little ocean, without a well on the door, the water will run into the room and soak the carpet.

Imagine, if you will, just for a moment, just how a wet carpet will smell in a closed up room and tropical heat.

To make matters worse, our room wasn't actually ready for us. There were dirty socks on the floor, dirty glasses strewn about, dirty sheets on the bed, and most appalling to Big K, handprints on the doors. Now okay. That sort of sucks, but I would have calmly called the front desk and explained all of this, asking for resolution. Oh no! Big K had to throw a hissy fit. I think she may have even demanded to speak to the captain. We were so embarrassed. And we were already making a name for ourselves as the V2 Girls.

Cut ahead a few hours, we've already eaten dinner (the late 8:30 seating because Big K thought that would be better...even though the other three girls are usually in bed by 9), and we're sailing into a tropical storm. The rocking got worse and worse as the night wore on. And as bad as that was, the smell in the room made it even worse. S1 got the puking started, poor baby. At that point I was still feeling fine. CB played the mom and did all the puke bucket emptying and consoling.

Then S2 started to feel queasy too. After about an hour, a just couldn't take it anymore and had to run to the bathroom too. I think I may have actually had more of a virus than anything else, but it doesn't really make a difference when you're in cruise ship hell.

Our room was in the worst possible place for rocking and the smell was overpowering, so we moved ourselves to the pool deck where we could get fresh air and a cool breeze. It was when the water in the pool started sloshing over the sides in great rolling waves that I really lost it. Thank god for my ice/puke bucket.

There were a few other poor souls (also from the Verandah deck) on the pool deck with us. We asked the husband of a puking woman to take our picture. Nothing like photographic evidence of pukey girls in pjs.

I spent most of my time alternating between the restaurant bathroom, pool deck, and a table in the restaurant itself. I just couldn't stay put.

S2 and Big K eventually went to bed. At some point while I was throwing up some lettuce I ate in college, S1 and CB made little beds for themselves out of deck chairs in the restaurant.

At about 5:15 a.m. I fell asleep sitting at a table with my head in my arms. The clanging of plates woke me up fifteen minutes later and I pulled myself up off the table and tried to wake CB. I yelled. I tapped. I tried to roll her but to no avail, so I left my cruisemates wrapped up like beach towel burritos, sleeping on deck chairs in the restaurant that would soon be serving breakfast.

At about 7:30 a.m., the assistant Maitre d' found S1 and CB. He told us later that he had spotted them and gone to ask his restaurant manager if he had seen the two girls sleeping in the dining room. "He laughed at me like I was joking," he told us. "I told him to go look for himself, and there you were." We were cruise ship legend at that point.

The Maitre d' awoke my poor friends with his Croatian accent, "Ladies, ladies! You must return to your rooms. We are serving breakfast."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the start of our fabulous cruise to Mexico!

Have you ever noticed how much I talk about puke?