Note: Another snippet from the work-in-progress for NaNoWriMo, wherein one of us has been felled by gastrointestinal malfeasance and two of us pretend that this is not happening…
In one of those lovely instances where things can go terribly awry within mere minutes, Tiffany and I set forth on our day with complete innocence in our hearts and only the tiniest whiff of processed alcohol oozing from our pores. (You can scrub all you want in the shower, but once you have properly pickled yourself the night before in a rousing round of bacchanalia, the taint of your transgressions insistently lingers for those with a discriminating nose. This is just one of the many arcs in the circle of life.)
According to folklore and the published itinerary, we were set to arrive at the island of Grand Cayman any second. Tiffany and I raced to breakfast in one of the many eating emporiums on the ship, industriously shoving bits of nosh into our gaping maws, along with thousands of other complete strangers, a ritual that is one of the fundamental hallmarks of seagoing cruises designed for the economy class.
Once cholesterol limits had been thoroughly shattered, we returned to our guest room to witness the pageantry of our docking spectacle at Grand Cayman. (Truth be told, we would have preferred to witness such an event from one of the spacious decks, hoisting a celebratory beverage as things played out, but we felt compelled to include Terry in the drama, even though Terry was mostly concerned with breathing in a manner that did not trigger unrelished digestive backlash.)
Gathered on our tiny balcony, aurally accompanied by the friendly tooting of nearby ships and the deadly potential tooting of Terry, we surveyed the intricate maneuverings of life in a seaport. This proved rather festive for at least twenty seconds before Terry pronounced “Alrighty, then. I’ve seen Grand Cayman island.” The he turned and fled back to the inner sanctum of darkness and loss. Apparently, the excitement of our arrival paled in comparison to other items on his bucket list, such as the wrangling of internal organs and the completion of preliminary death certificate forms.
Tiffany and I promised to keep in touch, perhaps send a few postcards, and then we completely moved on with our lives. We returned to gazing upon the nautical navigation, appreciating the fine work of men in captains’ hats who presumably knew what they were doing. This appreciation lasted for roughly another twenty seconds before we realized that there was nothing to appreciate.
Our ship was not moving closer to the dock. Upon closer inspection, we surmised that none of the other ships in port were moving, either. Everyone was simply bobbing in place. Was this a standoff? Had there been coup? It was entirely possible. After all, having been at sea for days and completely cut off from things such as news reports and online dating, anything could have happened. Hell, this island might no longer be known as Grand Cayman. Perhaps we were about to become hostages, cruelly subjected to the sociopathic whims of a newly-annointed dictator known as Jake the Bastard. This could be exciting.
It was at this moment that our captain activated the annoying ship-wide public-address system, an offensive invention that still startled everyone with its sudden intrusions. Captain attempted to explain the situation, but only partially succeeded. “Welcome to Grand Cayman!” he enthused. (Okay, then. No coup. I quickly discarded the “I was there!” mental blog post I had already been composing.) “We hope you are enjoying your day. Unfortunately, we seem to be experiencing a bit of a problem with the tenders.”
Tenders? As in chicken tenders? Oh my God! Was something wrong with one of the buffets? Was life worth living if we didn’t have 47 different things to choose from during lunch?
“As you know,” continued Captain, “tenders are the small boats used to ferry passengers from this ships to the dock.” (As if on cue, a small boat departed the dock, speeding toward a nearby Norwegian Cruise Line vessel. A lower bay door opened on said ship, revealing folks milling about.) “The tenders are necessary in ports where the waters are too shallow for cruise ships to make it to shore.” (Then why the hell come to this port if you’re on a cruise ship? Anybody consider building another port?)
“At the moment,” said Captain, “the waters in this port are too choppy to allow the tenders to operate safely.” (We watched as a large group of Norwegian passengers dropped into the tender, babbling excitedly and waving about cameras.) “As such, none of the ships are currently allowed to offload passengers.” (The loaded tender sped toward the dock as an empty one took its place at the Norwegian bay door. More offloading ensued.) “We will keep you posted on whether or not we will be allowed to disembark.” (A third tender left the dock, Norway bound.) “Please remain patient and enjoy this beautiful day.”
Tiffany was not impressed, waving her hand at the exuberant frat party taking place on the Norwegian. “That’s messed up, right there. But it sounds like we might have time for a cocktail before our onshore excursion. Shall we?”
Of course. (When is the answer to this question ever a negative one?) We briefly checked on Terry (Me: “Do you need anything?” He: “Shove it out your ass.” Me: “Okie doke.”) and then we happily clattered into the hallway, mission intent. Sadly, this mission was currently being pursued by 97% of the ship guests, as all the thoroughfares were now crammed with folks who suddenly had to come up with their own agenda for the day. (This is how major events in history often transpire: Large amounts of unfocused people are let lose in society with no real game plan. It’s no wonder that entire countries have vanished forever.
A few hours later, as were chastely sipping something green whose name escaped me despite having just ordered the concoctions a mere three minutes earlier, with Tiffany rhapsodizing about this thing that had happened to her once in a bowling alley that was later condemned, the Captain invaded the airspace once again. “Greetings, fellow travelers.”
Several folks at companion tables responded vocally, unaware that this was a useless exercise or what the names of their own drinks might be. (Somewhere in another part of the world, yet another country was overthrown and lost to history.)
“Port authorities have informed us that no tenders will be allowed to service the dock for the next several hours, due to inclement behavior of the sea. Since many of you have already missed the starting times of your on-land excursions, and we are on a tight schedule, it has been decided that we will not be visiting Grand Cayman and instead will proceed to our next destination, Cozumel.”
“Wait, can they do that?” asked Tiffany, tossing aside a paper umbrella that had ceased being cute and was now simply a hindrance to proper completion of her beverage.
“Well, we’re not driving the boat, so…”
The captain tried to silver-line the cloud that had suddenly descended. “Due to this variation in our travel plans, the staff is currently preparing several additional onboard activities for you to enjoy. Please be sure to review the exciting opportunities once the new daily agendas have been delivered to your spacious suites.”
“Speaking of the suite that we don’t really have,” I said, “perhaps we should stop by and see if Terry is still among the living.”
“I suppose we could do that,” mused Tiffany. “After all, if he does pass on, it might have an impact on our dinner plans.” So off we raced, but not before stopping by another cute little bar, one featuring a rusted anchor that somebody or other had deemed worthy of adorning a wall. (After the shocking events of the morning, it was imperative that we keep our constitutions fortified.)
Once in the room, I approached, with some trepidation, the musky mattress upon which lay our fallen warrior. “Sweetie, are you okay?”
Terry flopped over on his back in a rather admirable flourish of dramatic pain and unending psychological torture. “Jesus appeared in a vision and told me we were out of chicken tenders.”
Story behind the photo: This is clearly not a port of call, as it’s a snap of the runoff channel from Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma and not the Atlantic Ocean. But it does involve water, and that’s good enough for me on a random Friday night…
Categories: Work In Progress