I knew we were in for an interesting cruise after my 70-year-old father was drunkenly propositioned in the men’s room the first night of our trip.
“Well, I guess that’s why it’s called a ‘Funship’,” he said to us the next morning as we all relaxed in the bright pink lobby. “I just don’t think I want to have that much fun. Guess I’ll use the toilet in my stateroom from now on since I’m so damn irresistible.”
The nine of us – my parents, my sister, her husband and son, and my two boys and husband Chris – had decided we wanted to try something new for Christmas, so last December we went on a week-long cruise to the Mexican Riviera. We all thought it’d be a better use of our money than buying each other gifts. (Or, as my mother so eloquently put it: “fighting the crappy mobs to buy crappy crap that nobody needs and nobody wants.”)
My father’s experience aside, everyone enjoyed the first two days of our trip, all of us eagerly exploring the enormous vessel and getting our sea legs. But it wasn’t long before we discovered the dirty little secret that all cruise ships share: There are other passengers on board.
And they’re nasty.
Now I’m not saying that our particular cruise line went to the Appalachian State Fair and handed out free boarding passes to the scummiest Tilt-A-Whirl operators they could find, but I’m not saying they didn’t, either. But, for whatever reason, our ship was just jam-packed with a plethora of freaky, rude people who did whatever the hell they felt like doing. Like the skinny, pimply gentleman who thought it was a good idea to wear a souvenir t-shirt showing what can best be described as “cartoon bestiality” to the formal dining room one night. “Wow, that lady sure likes that donkey!” my nephew yelled as all six of us dashed to shield the kids’ eyes from the ironed-on horror seated at the next table. “Maybe she’s an animal doctor!”
Or the man with a rather elaborate neck tattoo who held court in the Serenity Deck hot tub each afternoon. Thanks to him, I now know quite a bit of California penal system lingo, as well as how to smuggle drugs into the country via a Mexican wrestler mask, two bottles of hand sanitizer and an infant.
Then there were the passengers who simply went into a feeding frenzy every time the buffet lines opened. You would have thought their last meal was three days ago, (not three hours ago), by the way they pushed and shoved to cram their trays full of high-calorie cruising food. It was like Free Meatball Day at the local animal shelter or something. Finally, after someone mistook my hand for a piece of chicken and stabbed me with a sharp fork, I decided to spend the rest of my dinner hours having piña coladas and popcorn at the pool bar.
Perhaps it’s because I’m used to good manners, or perhaps it’s because I come from the school that says it’s really not okay to wear your bathrobe to evening musical revues, but I found the behavior of the other passengers to be just appalling. My parents – who’ve been on many cruises, including a 32-day one through the Panama Canal – said they’d never seen anything like it. Even my 6-year-old son told me, “Mommy, I try to do ‘ladies first’ out of the elevator, but nobody else here does that. They just crash into me. Santa’s sure gonna be mad at them, huh?”
Finally, on the last day of our ill-fated Christmas cruise, after being bumped, pushed, sweated on and offended in any number of ways by my fellow passengers, I decided that since I wasn’t going to beat ‘em, I’d just have to outfreak the freakies. So I went to my cabin, packed away the nice, tasteful clothing I’d brought along and removed my make-up and shoes. Then I took a big swig from my $10 bottle of mini-bar beer, and wincingly put on the Barry Manilow concert t-shirt and Kate Gosselin Halloween wig that I’d brought along to scare my sister in the privacy of our staterooms. Once ready, I swung open the door, and proudly marched through the entire ship to the Lido Deck where I sat on a chaise lounge chair eating my weight in hot dogs and scratching my feet with a butter knife for the next two hours.
Nobody even batted an eye.
Next year, we’ve already decided that we’re going to go back to spending Christmas at my parents’ house like usual. True, it’s not as glamorous as a cruise to Mexico, or as exciting as an adventure on the high seas. But at least my dad will be able to go to the bathroom without a bodyguard.
My essay originally published in the April ’10 issue of Austin Woman Magazine.
(And there actually is photographic evidence of me sitting on the Lido Deck in my Gosselin wig, but it will hopefully never see the light of day as long as I continue to send my sister $20 a month.)
Also, big news! The Mouthy Housewives are turning ONE this week! I know, hard to believe since we all look so incredibly youthful and vibrant. Anyway, this week we’re asking you to help us with OUR problems. Click on over!