Tuesday, May 12, 2015

the art of fauxtrage

I am certain I ave told you this story before, but I am going to tell it again.  Its moral is eternal.

In the early 2000s, I flew to Cape Town to join an in-progress world cruise.  The ship had sailed from Los Angeles two months before. 

On the first day I sat down with a rather attractive woman in the buffet.  She was fascinating.  She had been an aviatrix and a journalist, and currently lived in interior Morocco -- having moved there on her own several years before.

Cruisers dream of meeting people like this.  She was almost a figure from an earlier era.  Madge of Morocco.

I learned that she had been with the ship since Los Angeles and had been through two major storms in the Pacific before arriving at Cape Town.

I was curious how she had enjoyed the cruise.  She didn't even hesitate: "It has been almost perfect -- except for one major thing.

What could a sophisticated traveler find so horrible?  Did she lose all her trael funds in Bora Bora?  Had she incurred some dread disease in Saigon?  Maybe she had been sexually assaulted by the cruise director.

Not even close.  When I asked, she puffed herself up in the type of moral outrage favored by Rachel Maddow, and announced: "This ship has no half and half."

I laughed.  It was a perfect display of fauxtrage.  I took it as a very well-timed joke.

She wasn't joking.  She was allowing the lack of half and half to ruin her trip.

Well, not just the missing half and half.  When she discovered that many of the cruisers joining in South Africa had purchased their tickets at a steep discount, she started collecting names and amounts paid.  She intended to confront the cruise line for devaluing her cruise experience.

As I worked through Monday on the ship, kicking my heels while the agriculture inspectors looked for the offending egg cases, I thought about her as I started musing about this cruise.

It would be easy to declare it a disaster.  The food has not been very good.  Our table service was terrible.  And this blasted head cold keeps sapping the life out of my chest.

But it has not been all bad.  In fact, on the while, it was a great trip.  I saw places and people in China, Korea, Japan, and Russia that I would have not experienced had I holed up in my Barra de Navidad hacienda.

I still have a couple of days in Vancouver to enjoy.  Plus a road trip and a few days in Oregon before I fly back home.

So, I sit here on the fantail of the ship watching the sun fade.  The lights of Victoria are blinking across the strait.

It will be a good night -- and, undoubtedly, a great day tomorrow.


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