Letter to Ron

Dear Ron,

Unbelievable! Firstly, an unfettered THANK YOU for your unsurpassed generosity. Never have I stumbled into the sort of lucky situation you inadvertently set up for me and I don’t expect to, ever again. Perhaps you’ve heard the stories and have made various judgments but I beseech you please to shelve them all, just for a moment; if you read on, I’ve enclosed my history of the wedding cruise and admittedly, I’ve erected for myself a checkered reputation but the point here, I suppose, is to experience the spectacle and tuck a few nuggets into your pocket…in short, my aim is to offer a little entertainment, to make you laugh and maybe smack your forehead some.

(note: removed part one for being exceptionally incriminating)

Wedding Cruise pt. 2: Travels and Day One

The trip down was largely uneventful. In Atlanta we stopped off (on a tip from one of my friends) at The Varsity, a famous greasy spoon. I had a pair of soaking wet hamburgers and some oil-soaked fries. The others had equally greased plates, some with 6″ onion rings.

(Also, a zebra pranced out onto the expressway during rush hour. We didn’t see it but rather endured zebra-fallout, which, as you’d expect, took the form of an impassible traffic jam.)

Sufficiently gut-bombed, we again boarded the van, MM behind the wheel. He’s the most intrepid traveler I’ve met. He drove straight through from Indiana to the most southern tip of Florida without sleep or rest, even. Maybe I was a little concerned when he sucked down one of those five-hour energy shots and consequently had a nosebleed. What’s in that shit?! He went the distance, though, there and back again after the wedding. Amazing.

Miami came at five the next morning, 18 hours after we left Jasper. Everyone was whipped and a little grumpy that we’d not get into PM’s parents’ hotel room to sleep for at least another hour. That was the plan: we’d arrive and sleep until check-out, six hours in all. Unable to endure another minute in the van, I hopped out with PM and entered the hotel lobby. Do you know of any open bars, I asked the concierge. They closed at three, he said, and put on a show of searching the internet for a more suitable answer. I’ll just wait here for breakfast, I said, not missing a beat. He nodded and went back to his work.

Let it not go unnoticed that my response was incompatible with the situation. If you’re a hotel concierge and a sleep-deprived greaser walks in and announces he’ll be waiting for breakfast, you might not agree and let him haunt the lobby. PM and I sat down and shortly the others of the van party joined us. Thirty minutes later, the louvered doors to the continental breakfast (a robust one, by the bye) were thrown open and to everyone’s surprise I rushed the food bar, alone. After I’d sat down with my plate and had gone un-tackled by present authorities the others followed suit, picking through bagels, cereal, fresh fruit, waffles, hard-boiled eggs, and toast.

LM and Mikie finally came down from their room and some of us went up to sleep a bit. Noon came soon enough and MM and I went on a liquor run. By then “the change” had occurred: I was officially on vacation and heedless, unable to contain myself and prone to striking sparks wherever I went.

(This is an addictive and dangerous part of me which might be hauled out too often if it is hauled out at all.)

 Old Overholt, I hollered at the clerk.

OVERHOLT! he cried in surprise. There used to be one dude I’d order that shit for and he hasn’t come in for so long…I’m pretty sure he’s DEAD! YOU, my boy, are MY KIND OF CUSTOMER!

There’s no problem getting the Overholt down the throat, I told him.

I DON’T WANNA HEAR ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS, he bellowed.

YOU ALREADY KNOW, I bellowed back, and all the cracked-out noontime liquor-store patrons were hacking up creepy laughter. Sure enough, the bottle he handed me, its label was yellowed and coated finely with dust. MM was floored. He’d never seen such a transaction take place. You’re a celebrity to those people, he said as we drove back to the hotel.

No man, they’re just my brand of weird – that’s all.

Several of us packed liquor into our suitcases  – an ill-fated venture, as it happened – because we didn’t want to pay the exorbitant boat price for the sauce. MM and I, because we were slotted to share a stateroom (what was your stateroom, Ron!), boarded together. It was my first cruise and I’d never seen so large a vessel. We had an hour before we could stow our gear. I bought a huge fruity drink for eight dollars from the fleecers flanking the entrance hallway, the one every guest had to take to get to the guts of the ship. I met the travel agent, her daughter, and her daughter’s boyfriend. And thus it began.

The reception dinner for the wedding party, all 170 of us, held for me a meeting of a pair of fellow English-department vets. Let’s leave their names to the imagination. We got on famously and under wine guidance, I presume, the fairer of the couple produced from her wallet a picture of her daughter and offered that she was a junior at IU, liberal and (consequently?) intelligent, and most importantly, single. True enough, the girl in the photo was cute and I agreed that we ought to meet. We continued our meal together, the girl’s folks and I, and by and by mom leans in again and disclaims she means no offense, but (get this!) her son is good-looking, too.

Maybe I am a little eccentric, both in my outlook and gestures. Maybe I don’t subscribe to 1950’s masculinity. Maybe my clothes fit well and I keep a spring in my step. Maybe 50% of the people who hit on me are female. Maybe she read into all of that as we were eating and jiving, and so we laughed a lot when I politely declined. Even were that particular family quartet 75% female, I’m not sure how it’d feel to have bedded 50% of them. Imagine them comparing notes, etc., etc.

After the dinner I wended my way to the bar, and then the dancefloor (likely trail), and finally, hopped onstage with the emcee and a crowd of unhindered souls. Drinking and dancing ensued until sometime in the night when I became sleepy and stumbled down to bed.

That night I discovered my flatmate’s sleep apnea. It’s a terrible problem for him, but I wonder even now if he’s aware of it. Due to the malfunction, he stops breathing while he’s asleep for several seconds at a time and commences finally to buzzsaw-snore the night through. With equal intensity and volume on the intake and exhalation his throat and nasal passages rattle and grate against the offending oxygen and carbon dioxide. I slept only when I smothered myself with a pillow and even then, lightly and fitfully. As with everything else, Ron, this is part of what you missed.

The Wedding Cruise: Day Two, the Ceremony Incident

The glorious morning was upon us! I was pretty happy to leave the room (still a loud place at seven-thirty in the morning) and was pleased further to have secured an elliptical machine in the weightroom, one which faced a wall of plate glass.

The others in the room? Well, I was the only one from the wedding party who thought to work out on wedding day, but other guests had beat me there: a hulking dude wearing the requisite weight belt/tank top combo, some doughy people, and a tattooed girl about my age, Cuban and seemingly heavily influenced in her appearance by the television series Jersey Shore. In spite of that she was tough, lifting more than I could see myself lifting and committed for a longer term. She was cute, say, “missed connections” cute, but of course I said nothing to her and left there wondering if she’d even noticed me.

Fast-forward through showering and reconstitution and arrive now at the top-deck bar run by my main man, Julio C. He’s nuts, Ron. He’s a crazy Honduran from Tela, this nothing village in the northern part of the country. He owns a black motorbike which wears on its ass a license plate Julio designed himself on a computer. Really, it’s a sticker which covers the license plate, the former being silvered and featuring from left to right: a sun and palm tree, the fronds of which constitute the heavy bar of the “T” in “Tela”, which is spelled out thereafter. He’s married, and his wife works the laundry room on the same boat.

He poured me a bloody mary (1/2 price before 11!) and said to me that he didn’t drink, smoke cigarettes, do drugs, or gamble.

“Women”, he said instead. “Thousands have said no, but hundreds have said yes.”

I quickly determined what sort Julio was, as perhaps you have. These kind are good for their stories, but maybe you ought to pack a fair-sized grain of salt into your cheek before you swallow any of them, eh?

He went on to talk about how he and his wife are soulmates and how at the most inopportune times she phones him up to disrupt his game. Likewise but a little different, he said, he knows when she’s in danger. Apparently she’d been working an automobile barge in the Mediterranean and the captain had cut too sharply around the entrance of a bay and had run aground, puncturing the hull. The hole was a meter wide and his wife was working the affected deck. Meanwhile, mysteriously, Julio thought to call his wife (he had a “feeling”). Failing to reach her he called the company, found out about the accident, finally, and yada yada.

The more I drank the more interesting these tales became. I followed my inaugural double with another of the same (felt like a triple, bless his heart) and then another, which disappeared too fast. Julio remarked on that and in reply I demanded (kindly) another, of immense strength. He produced for me a 14″ party glass filled to the brim – four shots at quarter price – and I tackled it full-speed. I learned from a meandering wedding-party person that noon was coming soon and I ought to find my way to the beach.

I don’t recall how I got to the beach.

When I did finally arrive, I met the travel agent’s daughter and her boyfriend. Graciously, they agreed to hang out with me and I purchased another drink, a blue one, on the beach from a rasta beach bartender in a tiki bar.

(things are about to get ugly, Ron, but I have to quit here and pick up again later. I’m exhausted and have to work early in the morning, but I promise to finish another post this week.)

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