Tuesday, May 27, 2014

let others be bored

Yesterday was another sea day.

Some of you took umbrage at my spendthrift attitude toward cruise time; that I was wasting my time by enjoying a spot of reading.  Of course, others of you saw through my literary artifice.  I was actually slipping in other activities between my bouts of reading.  I just wanted to tell you about the book I read.

So, I will ‘fess up – as they say in my former neck of the woods in southern Oregon.  Here is what I did yesterday to while away my time.  That is, in addition to leafing through The Oregonian and The American Spectator.

The kickoff?  A full breakfast served on my verandah on a sunny Monday morning backed up by a calm Mediterranean Sea.  OK.  It is not an activity.  But it certainly set the tone for my day.

And I was then in full cruising activity mode until my head hit the pillow last night.

  • Our location guide, KK, (I am not making that up) briefed us on the highlights of Palermo, Naples, and Rome – our next three stops.
  • A digital photography course
  • 30 minutes of team trivia – where I sat by myself and would have placed first had I bothered joining a team; maybe next time
  • A stroll through the art “auction” – a clever device to sell lithographs at painting prices.  And it works.  I have bought my share in the past.  But my art collection is now on permanent loan to my nephew.  I didn’t need any more.  But, the activity is consistent with the hook I promised you for this cruise. 
  • KK tried her hand at lecturing us on Roman history.  She may have some knowledge lodged in her head, but her inability to strip her presentation of colloquialisms left what she did know locked up tighter than Hannibal Lecter’s cell.
  • A showing of the film Her – an interesting look at the classic philosophical dichotomy of materialism and idealism
  • A briefing on Microsoft’s SkyDrive – something I cannot use until I return to the world of inexpensive and speedy internet (The next time I complain about the speed of Melaque’s internet, remind me of this cruise.)
  • Dinner in my white tie costume.  My clothes were cut better than was the pork.
Usually, I would have topped the night off with one of the ship’s live shows.  But, last night’s act was a Memphis-sound rock group I have seen perform nightly in one of the ship’s lounges.  I get the impression that the act booked for last night may not have made it to the ship due to our company-imposed change in itinerary.

Speaking of that change, I ran into a rather nasty display of solipsism in the library this afternoon.  An English couple, sitting next to me on a couch, were complaining about the Tunisia port cancellation.  The wife told her husband: “When they checked in with their Jewish passports, the clerks should have told them they could not get off the ship in Tunisia.  They are just ruining it for the rest of us.”
It was when the conversation slipped from narcissism to anti-Semitism that I asked her “What if the clerks told you that Western women are not allowed in Tunisia, and that you would have to stay on the ship?”  She paused and responded: “Well, that would be silly.  There are a lot of women.  I’ll bet there aren’t even many Jews on this ship.”

At that point two facts occurred to me.  She was stupid.  And my legs worked.  So, I put a bit of sanity between the two of us.

Fortunately, those moments have been few and far between.  But they happen.  Cruise ships may be designed to be happy places, but they are still inhabited by people – with all of their foibles.

While you read this, I will be traipsing through the streets of Palermo.  With no goals.  And no expectations.  We will see how that works out.

I may miss the sea days.

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