Wednesday, April 18, 2012

would you like dinner with that whine?

Let me introduce you to The Tuna Lady.  In a moment.

First, we need to set up this tale.

The cruise social season is in full swing.  Or, so it would seem, from the invitations stacking up on my bed.

”On my bed” may stoke imaginations steamier than the life I lead.  Lacking a silver tray and liveried footman in the hall (in fact, lacking any semblance of a hall), my bed is the default mailbox.

The cruise social calendar does not lend itself to dinner parties at Number One, London or tea with Lady Astor.  I suspect cruise life may be a bit more fun -- in an Anglo-Saxon family summer camp sort of way.

Here is a sample of the current pile.  A Meet and Mingle Party for a computer message board. A Welcome Back party for prior cruisers.  A bridge tour.  A theater tour.  A cocktail hour for frequent cruisers -- and people who empty their wallets for suites where they can actually turn around in their bathroom.

Plus impromptu dinners with new friends.

OK.  It is a bit Babbitish.  But almost all are attended by good people who are doing their best to enjoy life.  And life on a cruise ship ain’t bad.

I hope you caught the “almost.”  On every cruise there is a small minority who seem to believe everyone on the ship is there to polish their troubled lives.

Ten years ago I took a cruise from South Africa to Lisbon. The ship had several passengers who boarded in Los Angeles in an almost-around-the-word cruise.

I met one of them in Cape Town.  An American woman living in Morocco.  What could have been more exotic than that?

I was curious how she had enjoyed that many days at sea.

”Marvelous,” she said.  “I’ve had a great time.”

”Except for one thing that’s completely ruined this cruise for me.”

What could have been so disastrous?  A stolen purse?  A lost camera?  A dog eaten by an Indian crocodile?  I furrowed my brow in empathy.

”This ship has no half and half.”

I laughed.  Loudly.  Thinking I had been the butt of a very good joke.

But she was serious.  And told me so.  She was in high dudgeon over the lack of a dairy product.

That seemed to be her mode. The next time I saw her she was surveying fellow passengers on how much they had paid for their cabins.  Because she felt she had been overcharged for hers.  She was determined to ruin a “marvelous” time.

I had almost forgotten about her.  Until today.

I was sitting in the concierge lounge reading when a woman burst through the door under full steam.  Angry as only a wronged mother can be.

”This has to stop,” she announced to the concierge -- and the rest of us who had not yet figured out that attention must be paid.  “Two things are ruining this cruise.”

In a calm voice, the concierge asked: “How may I help you?”

And then we heard the catalog of her parade of horrors.  “There is no tuna on the buffet.  And hasn’t been for days.  We - had - to - ask - for - it.”

It was a great setup.  I waited for the punch line.  But I figured out she was serious just about the same time as the concierge.

”And the second?”

”There has not been any Bailey’s at the cocktail hour.  Even Carnival has Bailey’s.”

The resolution of these disasters is unimportant.  The fact that an adult could get that upset by the lack of canned cat food and booze is a testament to how a bit of money can turn nice people into the darker side of Hyacinth Bucket.

Now that you have met The Tuna Lady, I’ll let her sit at your table.


Dan in NC said...

Sorry Steve, but being stuck on/in a floating hotel with individuals of this ilk is not my cuppa.... A month with these people and you'll be looking for a plank, if only to escape their inane attitudes... Sheesh! Hyacinth would be a pleasure to deal with ( BTW the last name is pronounced boo-Kay FYI....)
Dan in NC

Tafreeburn said...

hi steve,

i cracked up at the mention of a "bathroom you can almost turn around in" and then i laughed at the lady who lives in morocco complaining about half and half. as for the tuna lady, i love to tuna so i'd be complaining too and just as loudly-ha, gotcha ;-( some peole don't know how good they have it.

teresa in nagoya

by the way we drove from nagoya to sasebo/beppu and on the way back our car broke down. we ended up spending a night in a place we'd never heard of before but it is a beautiful city, matsuyama. i wonder how those people you mentioned would react to a thing like that. i just put on my walking shoes out i went. i always try to make the best of any situation as getting upset won't change much, although of couse there are exceptions. 

teresa in nagoya  

Don Cuevas said...

You should just tuna her out.

Saludos,Don Cuevas 

Steve Cotton said...

 This is a writer's paradise. 90% of the people are very pleasant.  But the other10% offer post fodder.  I am like a pig in slop.

Steve Cotton said...

 You would be among the 90% of the people on this ship.  A pleasure to spend an impromptu dinner with -- as we have.

Steve Cotton said...

 That is me chuckling out here in the Atlantic.  With a month of cruising, I could probably write a book.  Unfortunately, it would be filled with characteristics rather than characters.

John Calypso said...

Somehow I picture you with more of an Agatha Christie crowd than with  Lady Astor types - think Murder on the Orient Express. Why would I think this? :-) 

Have fun amigo!

Tafreeburn said...

why thank you sir, what a nice thing to say-right back at you. well, that's a first, i don't think i've used that phrase before.

just got back from an amazing symphony orchestra concert. you would have loved it.

NWexican said...

Babbitish? WOW ... Really sounds like a hoot.

Kathe said...

On a shore trip, find a can of Tuna flavored cat food, offer it to her as a token of your esteem for her discriminating taste and then duck.

tancho said...

Thanks for reminding me why I don't cruise, unless the boat has less than 100 people on it.....
Sounds like your cup of java...enjoy the trip, We'd love to hear the juicy gossipy details.

Babsofsanmiguel said...

You don't have to be on a cruise to hear those kind of complaints.  I recently got a dissertation on the dearth of good bagels made and sold in San Miguel.  I actually kept my mouth shut but so wanted to make several comments..........I'll keep those comments to myself.

Steve Cotton said...

I sometimes wonder how some people can fail to enjoy what is around them. For me, they are character sketches in motion.

Steve Cotton said...

The Algonquin Round Table is open.

Steve Cotton said...

We have some nice live music on board. But certainly no symphony orchestras.

Steve Cotton said...

You have started an idea brewing.

Steve Cotton said...

 Funny you should mention it.  We have a murder mystery theater dinner tomorrow night in the specialty restaurant.

Steve Cotton said...

A better adjective I struggle to imagine.

Lschucht22 said...

Had lunch with Roy today in Salem. He looks in good spirits and told me about your fantastic cruise. Sounds like you are having a great time.

Kim G said...

Well, I can relate. The lack of half and half has pretty much ruined the entire country of Mexico for me.

Next thing you know, lemons will be impossible to find, even in the largest cities.

How can people live in such extreme circumstances?


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we are still rather skeptical that half and half would be any easier to find in Morocco.

Steve Cotton said...

 I am surprised that tongue of yours doesn't poke right through your cheek.

Maybe that is why she goes on vacation.  To get half and half. 

Steve Cotton said...

We should all schedule another one.