Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cruise Control - Part 20: I’m Too Sexy For This Deck

Click Here to read the previous entry in this series…

  Tuesday was the day that I became an international male sex symbol.

  Well, at least in my head, I did.

  And it went something like this…

  It was another “at sea” day, which meant that once again we had no firm structure and could do whatever we felt like doing all day long. So of course we started things off with a visit to the breakfast buffet, where I shoved anything containing the tiniest speck of grease into my mouth, a habit that would probably bring me great regret if I kept it up for much longer. As usual, our morning meal was accompanied by the imagery of petulant children throwing juice at each other while the parents completely ignored them and instead moved one day closer to an imminent, bitter divorce.

  Tiffany and I walked off some of the grease by traveling to what was becoming one of our favorite rooms on the ship, Vincent’s Lounge, a nightclub that was basically deserted during the day, being a nightclub and all. But they kept it open all the time, and it was quite relaxing to just slip in there and ogle the incredibly bizarre décor. Something to do with Vincent Van Gogh and his “Sunflower” period. (There are glass flowers hanging from the ceiling, people. Not making this up.)

  So we sat for a while, idly wondering exactly what type of drugs were responsible for the visions of both Vincent and the obviously-flamboyant interior designer who tried to channel him on a cruise ship populated mainly with folks who had no idea who Vincent Van Gogh might be and, more importantly, did not really care as long as the greasy buffets remained open and alcoholic beverages continued to appear magically before them.

  Speaking of libations, we reviewed our tentative (everything is always tentative on a cruise) agenda for the day, to ensure that we had adequately done whatever we needed to do to make things flow smoothly and not lead to shocking moments of shame and degradation.

  We knew that we were doing the zip-line thing in Jamaica early the next morning, which meant that we needed to respect that “early” theme this evening and get ourselves to bed at a decent hour, which in turn meant that if we were going to do any serious drinking today, then we would have to get started with that…

  Right now! Oh my God, did everybody realize this? Tiffany and I looked at one another with slight panic. We have a definite method to our madness, and one of those methods pertains to the protocol surrounding proper and classy binge drinking. There’s a certain pacing as well as requisite dance moves during key moments. You have to do it right or you won’t get the merit badge.

  We had to remind people of the schedule change or there would be chaos.

  We leapt to our feet and raced toward the door of Vincent’s, pausing a moment to let another passenger come in said door and stand there momentarily in shock. (It was clearly the poor woman’s first time reviewing the décor. We considered holding her hand and graciously helping her adjust to the environment and get her bearings, but there really wasn’t time for that. We spied the motion-sickness bracelet on her arm, knew she would eventually be fine, and fled.)

  We clattered out of the elevator on the Lido Deck and instantly began a complex search-and-seizure mission of locating other members of our party (well, at least the members who could drink), with Tiffany doing an expert imitation of Jill Munroe from Charlie’s Angels, complete with hair-flipping and bell-bottom jeans-wearing. (She really wanted to go all out and pursue a gunman whilst riding a skateboard, but neither was available at the time.)

  I played Charlie. Which meant I didn’t really have to do anything other than talk on a phone.

  Our mission proved both stylish and successful, as we quickly located Dawn, Darrin and Tara loitering around a table quite near Fuchsia’s House of Liquor and Lust. Great, perfect arrangement. Maybe we could get things in motion with the mojitos before it was too late.

  We thundered up to the table to find that there really was no need to accelerate the program to an adult level. These three horses had apparently done left the barn some time ago.

  Tara: “Heeeeyyyy! Where the hell have you been?” (She knocked something over, but no one complained, so it was all good.)

  Tiffany: “Oh. We were just going to remind you that-”

  Dawn: “I loooovvveee Bloody Mary’s!” (Then she was briefly distracted, thinking that her celery stick had just asked her a question, but she recovered quickly, tossing the celery behind her so she couldn’t hear it.) “Don’t you?”

  Me: “-there’s the zip-line thing early in the morning and-”

  Darrin: “…..”

  Tiffany: “Okay, then. Guess you’re on schedule.”

  Tara: “Go get some sunscreen, girl. We are gonna lay out all afternoon and DRINK! Woooaagga!” (Fair disclosure: That last word was completely made up, I have no idea what she said.)

  And thusly, we had an agenda.

  Suffice it to say that it was a very enjoyable agenda at that. The weather was perfect and sunny, the boat was behaving and not tossing people about like rag dolls with focus issues, and every single person on the entire ship was suddenly absolutely comfortable with their bodies and what they could do with them. (Did I mention that drinking was involved?)

  Example of that last bit? The “Hairiest Chest” contest. This business kicked into gear at some point, details are sketchy, but it was clearly a huge hit once things were under way. The women in the crowd (and a few of the men, equal opportunity obnoxiousness here) were screaming with zealous passion as a handful of men who were smashed enough to not care paraded around nearly naked. I’m sure that it will come as no surprise to learn that none of these men should ever quit their day jobs.

  While that mess was going on, Tiffany and I noticed that Dawn was off to one side, allowing Tristany to get one of those temporary, air-brushed tattoos. Well, thought the Tiffster and I, we certainly can’t let the young and the restless have all the fun. So we swigged down the rest of our current cocktails, hollered at Terry that we had a mission, and our Trilogy of Terror headed toward the sound of compressed air being squirted at human flesh.

  (Not that you could actually hear such a noise, what with a live band on the balcony of an upper deck, playing music whose soul purpose seemed to be that of providing a steady, thumping beat so that the hairy-chest contestants could better attempt to swivel their hips and try to look even remotely seductive.)

  We got to the little tattoo stand and began poring over the many books containing the wondrous artwork that could be stained onto our bodies for a promised five or so days (assuming that we didn’t rub too hard, bathe, or breathe during that time). In a moment of stunning originality, we decided to all go with yin-yang tattoos, because nobody ever does that, right? Fifty bucks later and we were officially in a gang. An Asian-Oklahoman-West Texan gang with minimal purpose or skill, but a gang nonetheless. We be street and stuff.

  We rejoined the family and continued to quench our bottomless thirsts and the sun continued to shine as complete strangers became life-long friends while standing in line for a Blue Hawaiian. Everybody was very, very happy.

  At some point, Tiffany and Tara managed to obtain tropical drinks that had been wedged into coconuts that had been carved and painted to minimally resemble monkey-heads. The duo loved these little creatures, christening them Cocoa and Crispy. With only slight slurring, they even came up with very detailed biographies that included a torrid romance and some possible espionage in the south of France. There also might have been a guest appearance on an episode of “The Facts of Life”, but I might have garbled that message with periodic status reports from Dawn’s Tristany-tracking walkie-talkie.

  As I smiled faintly while listening to their tender words of wooden-headed life adventures droning in the background, it became evident that Cocoa was a girl (this one was parented by Tiffany, natch), but I never quite learned the fabricated gender classification assigned to Crispy, so I don’t know if their Mediterranean fling ended in a marriage, a civil partnership or just your standard open relationship where they could see other monkeys on the side.

  And the sun kept up with that beaming down business, distributing the lazy sensation of freedom and short-term irresponsibility that is the traditional gift of UV-Rays and alcohol. My lulled and mulled mind began to wander, taking hazy note of the other things going on around me, images of frivolity and mayhem that would intrude briefly and then fade, leaving wispy, fragmented impressions that somehow coalesced into absurdity.

  We had that odd sense of accidental intimacy, with random people running about in skimpy bits of bathing attire, where you are presented with far more uncovered anatomy than you typically get in your daily routine. And there was sweat, also courtesy of the sun, which, for me anyway, enhances exposed musculature in a pleasing manner, shining things up a bit. Well, certain musculature. As in the men folk.

  But then I shifted around in my deck chair (Wait. When did I get here?) and began to analyze the flesh parade with a sharper eye, or at least as sharp as one could get when the alcohol is baking in your veins. The drumming of the live band intensified as I studied the carnality of happy, liberated hedonists presenting their wares for all to see. And I came to a sobriety-deficient conclusion.

  They weren’t really all that attractive, these people with their thongs and straining board shorts and strategically-exposed patches of this and that. These people were out of shape and had crammed themselves into structurally-stressed attire, looking like some church benevolent mission had air-dropped a shipment of free bathing suits over a really trashy trailer park where people considered bathing to be too much exercise. In fact, it was a little bit rude of them to parade around with such confidence and self-love. They didn’t deserve the spotlight, no sir. The rhythmic, pulsing drums weren’t beating for them.

  They were beating for me.

  I was sure of it. As my drums kept up the beat, I stretched my arms out over my head, assuming a provocative pose in my deck chair, convinced that at any moment hundreds of men would be rushing to my side and begging me for a chance to worship my mind-blowing physique. I would toy with each of them, work them into a frenzy, and then-

  There was a scraping sound to my left.

  I looked over and realized that Tiffany had just repositioned the deck chair next to me, and then reclined as well. She also adjusted the horizon of her body to allow the sun to kiss her curves at just the right angle of illumination. “Feeling good right now, are you?”

  I smiled. “Oh, yeah. I am having the best time. I am so glad we came on this cruise.”

  She adjusted herself just a tiny bit more, as there had apparently been one square inch of her luscious-ness that was not properly displayed. Then she planted Cocoa the Coconut next to her on the chair, because a good parent always keeps tabs on their offspring, wooden or otherwise. “Really?”

  I nodded my head, leaning in conspiratorially. “Yes! Have you seen all these people around here?” (I may have made an unnecessary arm flourish to indicate the masses at this point.)

  Tiffany gazed about, taking note but not quite sure where I was headed.

  I clarified. “I am feeling so sexy right now. Compared to them.”

  She smiled understandingly, although I wasn’t sure if she meant it. Then her sunshades slipped down just the tiniest bit, and I caught a reflection of myself in her lenses. My pale-ass white body and a beer gut where whaling ships could probably dock during a sudden squall. The rhythmic drums were suddenly beating for someone else, disillusion dissipating. Damn demon alcohol. Inspired and then killed another dream.

  I sighed and flopped back in my chair. “Well, it was fun feeling hot for at least a little bit.”

  Tiffany smiled again, this time with understanding that was clear. “Well, you are what you believe, and you can believe anything you want, right? And for the record, my Cocoa is always hot.” And then she patted her little love monkey.

Click Here to Read the Next Entry in This Series.

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