Friday, June 10, 2011

Seamen Becomes Her: Part 3

Hypochondria deeply vests itself in Lauren's and my psyches, so naturally we schlep everything short of hazmat suits on our person, and Lauren's granny purse housed a box full of Band-Aids. I required these Band-Aids to cover my French-fall wound splayed across my left wrist and palm. Lauren rarely moves so quickly as when she fears someone will become contaminated, with a "hurry. Put it on before you get the 'hiv' in France" in between gasps of breath and laughter. I fastened the bandage to my flesh, swept the sand from my ass and picked up my gelato cup before I proceeded to stumble down the shore snapping pictures of the water and/or bare breasts sprinkled across the landscape.

The staircase slip took a lot out of me, so I napped on the bus back to the ship. Lauren snoozed as well, but she also exhibits patterns of borderline narcolepsy. We arrived in our room just in time to crash on our bed into oblivion. Did I mention we shared a king-sized bed...a monument to all naughtiness except sex?

Later that night, the ship's crew members and guests alike buffed, spackled and teased themselves to get ready for the grand, first formal dinner of the voyage. Picture seventy-year-old women all in shoulder-padded, sequined-crusted gowns from the eighties paired with short, shiny Filipino waiters croaking around a reserved table with no realization for the strong lawn-jockey parallels I presently pictured. As my alligator-skin tux lay trapped in Italian Customs, I met the maître d' a bit under-dressed.

MD: "Excuse me, sir. But jackets and ties are required for tonight's dining."
Me: "Well a lawn jockey stole mine!"
MD: "I don't understand?"
Me: "Can't you just let me slide in? My hair alone normally gets me into any place I want."
MD: "It is very impressive. Here is an extra jacket. I don't normally do this, but I'll make an exception..."
Me: "For the hair. I know...wait. Did this belong to a waiter? It has stains..."
MD: "It's mine, sir."

One of his lawn jockeys led Lauren and me to our seats next to our fellow, hoary denizens. I wrangled out of the bastardized XXL jacket, and we sat down at the end table where no bread and butter basket presented itself. I asked our jockey for more bread, and he informed me that there was already one for the table. I flashed my teeth the way Meryl Streep does in The Devil Wears Prada and declared: "I know, but I want my own because I'm famished from trekking up a mountain in France." Our tablemates shifted their attention to us. They regaled us with stories and anecdotes of lore because we were "young folk." Among them, two sisters from California (one reasonable and one that looked like Eddie Van Halen's mother) spoke of their divorces and how they admired two young professionals like us. You could faintly see the look of lust mixed with admonition in Ms. Van Halen's eyes. A married couple also joining this parade of crazy proved themselves to be quite genuine and sincere. I kept up with the wife until she started crying about how her druggie, thirty-year old son that knocked up a dollar store escort could not compare to Lauren and me. As all gazes devoted their ears to her tears, I turned to Lauren and said: "I really need to masturbate. It's been too long..." At this point, our waiter buzzed over to replace our carb caddy and caught the tail end of my masturbatory admission. Lauren, fighting hysterics, dropped her napkin on the floor and a piece of her previously masticated lamb chop lolled out and stuck to the waiter's shoe.

The next morning, our ship sailed for the day, so Lauren and I decided to enjoy the pool after a hearty breakfast buffet that all but forced me to eat five and a half Scottish Eggs Benedict. After I scoured the remnants of deck lounge chairs and secured a couple of them, my new shorty-short swim trunks necessitated a photoshoot. Lauren snapped the reins as Creative Director, envisioning a St. Tropez meets The Golden Girls meets Speed 2: Cruise Control theme. She wedged herself between the sunbathers and colitis and proceeded to snap my picture in various manners. "Put on more oil to shine brighter," she would demand. "Arch your back a tad bit more to hide the pannus behind you." In seven minutes worth of sweaty photog-effort, we captured one semi-decent picture worthy of Facebook or Girls Gone Wild.

After our shoot, we staggered over to the hot tub to cool off and wash the sweat and oil from my body. I felt like I lapsed into the set of Hot Tub Time Machine. The spa-water occupants already soaking were younger than us. Truly a miracle...or a mirage. I refused to believe it until they spoke. While they looked every bit as Filipino as our wait staff, the two sputtered English over the bubbles and steam. They hailed from Baltimore, pilgrimaging to Rome via Holland America with their Catholic grandmother. Polynesian Jack and Jill epitomized energetic, teenage cuteness with beautiful features and flawless complexions, enhanced moreso by the fact that, as a decade older, I called them "kids," and they explained that they, along with their four other siblings, formed a Christian rap group. Ladies and gentleman, we have our generation's Jackson 5. Filipino 6 could really take the market by storm. We encouraged them to go after the Christian Tea Party market and coordinate with Palin's camp for press. Meanwhile, the group should also leverage Snoop Dogg's fan base and rap on the streets of Compton to up their street cred. Lastly, 6 must categorically release a Hispanic album because we all know that demographic potential. My suggestions shocked and awed the teens, surprising me that his had not formulated a major a part of their manager's twelve-month plan.

I could just perceive Jack's mental wheels spinning, deeming me their European messiah when my Band-Aid from France floated up to the surface of the water and drifted toward Jill.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seamen Becomes Her: Part 2

My first official act once aboard the ship involved liquor. I procured Lauren and myself a "house cocktail" which consisted of bluish rum, some ice and toothpicks. One sip of the concoction forced me to discard it. It tasted like tacky Acqua Di Gio and blue painter's tape, singeing my tongue and enlarged uvula. My second act brought me to the Greenhouse Spa where I reviewed the menu of salon and spa options. Manis/pedis, mud baths, hot stone massages. Who in hell wants to take a mud bath on a cruise? As this trip was intended to accommodate all things relaxing, my muscle tension required expeditious relief. I charged a ninety-minute full body massage to my room for $150.

My massage therapist's name was Elka, and she wielded the softest hands to ever caress my nubile carcass. After I took off the rented terry cloth robe and stretched my body across the table, she came back into the room to an awkward silence. I conjured the awkwardness in my head; she was really just lubing up. To break my mental tension as I slid my head into the donut-shaped pillow rest, I broke that silence with:

Me: "Very nice to meet you. I'm so looking forward to this."
Elka: "Very nice to meet you as well Mr. Dooley."
Me: "Mr. Dooley? Oy, that makes me sound so old. Speaking of which...how many erections do you see on a daily basis?"
Elka: "Excuse me?"
Me: "Come on? You are massage therapist on a rocking ship transporting older gentlemen with Bob Dole complexes from port to port."
Elka: Silence.
Me: "But, don't worry about me. I'm more of the Margaret Thatcher variety. I have no energy for anything."
Elka: "Am I applying too much pressure?"

As Elka denied her penis-envy, she kneaded, plied and whittled my body into abandon with her fluid hands and an oil that I would brand "Sex on Your Skin It’s So Good." I had just started to nod off into oily bliss when she finished, stating I should take my time and relax as she offered me a diagnosis. "You are extremely stressed and tense. I worked a lot on your back to release the knots, but you should try to relax everyday and find ways to de-stress. Would you like to purchase the body oil?"

I did.

Later, Lauren and I devoured a four-course dinner and three baskets of bread and butter before we ambled down to the casino that night with the rest of the venerable patrons. In one of my many stops to the toilet over this vacation, I passed the ship's discotheque. My bladder cramps swelled as I witnessed a tiny Asian man dancing in the middle of the dance floor, gyrating in circles by himself while strobe lights enhanced his slight frame and sweaty black hair. I pulled Lauren off the "Wheel of Fortune" slot machine and escorted her to the night club to revel in its awesomeness. We ordered two Lemon Drops and sat in a booth to observe my new best friend, the Asian, who was now joined by forty-something year-old man that looked like Buffalo Bill with a dash of both Ted and Al Bundy. The Asian's name was Tommy Chang. I don’t recall Buffalo Bill's name, so we’ll call him the "Molester," because that's what Lauren and I deemed he resembled. They proceeded to order us three more rounds of Lemon Drops and exercise their dancing skills. Tommy also absconded Lauren’s camera and attempted to take pictures of us. We requested that he figure out how to utilize the flash, given his background, naturally. He failed, obviously never having visited Time Square. I was in heaven.

To top it off, once the DJ started spinning ABBA, a British grandmother and daughter duo in matching pastel cardigans, kicked up their paisley knickers and got down with the Molester. Seriously, they had electrifying moves and enough energy to power a small Tanzanian village.

The next day the ship docked in Cannes. While we were dying to go papparazzo on Brangelina at the Film Festival, we found ourselves disappointed, especially because our tour guide could speak of nothing but the damn airport in Cannes. She prattled on about it every thirty seconds. "It's so big...at one square mile." We toured the city and later ventured to a little village outside of Nice, called Eze. It’s a medieval hamlet nestled atop a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Completely beautiful and absurdly undeserving for the French peoples. Luckily, nothing unfortunate happened to us in Eze. Unless you count the fact that I bought a bracelet for my mother, and on the way out I decided to keep it for myself, and Lauren smacked her head into the same cactus going up...and back down the mountain.

Our next stop included a walking tour of "old" Nice. I have never surveyed so many window shutters in my life, and the entrepreneur in me began to percolate venture capital ideas. As I slurped the best white chocolate gelato IN THE WORLD I called my lawyer. "Dick, please research investment opportunities for shutter repair companies in the South of France. The market here must be huge for it...even bigger than the Cannes International Airport...I'll tell you about it later. I'd be willing to invest up to one thousand dollars," I dictated. I ended the phone call, and Lauren and I walked out toward the beach. Naked boobies are a sight to behold, and I refused to miss the French ones. We neared the sand (by sand, I mean rocks), coming across a group of French teenagers lounging on the stone steps that led to our destination, thereby blocking our passage. French people in their natural habitats tend to scare me, so I didn't want to disrupt this teeny pride of shellacked Provencal lions. Instead, I hopped to the right of them and walked down the ramp next to the stairs. I beamed at my coordination and balance until the midway point where I went from "Lauren look at me" to "Oh shit," busting ass on the ramp. I tried to save myself by extending my arms to avoid a bruised buttocks. You know what people look like when they play crab soccer? Picture a six foot dude with big hair, clutching a camera case and gelato cone, in such a position as he skids down ten feet of inclined stone with nothing but French children, window shutters and boobies to provide a mocking backdrop.

My wrists and hands paid dearly for the fall and started oozing blood and sand. The teens quickly jumped up to see if I was okay. I guess that's what they asked. I looked to Lauren to translate for me at the top of the stairs, but she couldn't speak from laughing hysterically. Clearly four years of high school French could not absolve the ability to guffaw into breathlessness at the expense of others.
 
To bet continued, again...