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.