We finally made it onto the ship! I found my room, met my parents at their room, and then we went down to THE PROMENADE. It’s like an outdoor mall in the middle of the boat. The boat had 14 upper floors. Here’s the quick rundown of the important places (and a preview of things to come):
3rd floor: theater, ice rink (that I never saw, I was just impressed that it exists.)
4th: casino, Jesters night club, Scooner bar, 4-asian bar (my name)
5th: THE PROMENADE complete with jewelry shops, Irish pub, sports bar, champagne bar, etc.
6th: our rooms
11th: pool deck, adult pool, cafeteria
12th: upper deck, arcade, “optix”, spa
13th: I’m not even sure this floor exists. I honestly couldn’t tell you.
14th: Blue “sometimes fancy-ass members only” Moon bar
So we’re on THE PROMENADE hanging out at the Irish pub. My first drink on the boat is a “BBC” – an icy Bailey’s pi~n~a colada with banana stuff in it. Delicious. We’re watching people walk by, and they can’t stop playing with this statue across from us. It’s a life-sized normal guy pointing up at a 45 degree angle. People keep pointing back at him and touching his finger. I ask my parents “that finger has almost certainly been inside somebody.” I guess it wasn’t really a question.
I must have eaten at some point, but I don’t remember when. Eventually we split ways and I went back to my room to shit nap shower change, in that order. On my way to the room I met the guy who was taking care of my room, and he was pretty cool. We fist-bumped it the rest of the cruise every time we crossed in the hall. (Ok so we only did that once, but it makes a better story this way.)
At 11:30pm there was a “Solo Cruisers” event. I guess they don’t call it “singles do stuff together event or whatever” anymore. My parents told me I should go, and I thought it sounded like a good idea. During the whole trip I generally tried to choose “do it” over “don’t do it”, and I think it made the trip…better. Let’s say better.
The event was at Jesters night club. I showed up at 11:33, just in time to watch the orange game! About fourteen people were on the dance floor getting the rules explained to them. Something about holding an orange between your chin and your chest and passing it to the next person the same way. I wasn’t sure my “do it” philosophy extended to “pass the orange”, but showing up a few minutes late meant that I didn’t have to face that decision.
It looked like there was a wide range of age and personality in the orange game, so I was a little unsure of where this would go. I noticed a girl that seemed about my age standing on the sidelines, so I resolved to talk to her…after getting a drink first.
I went to the bar and got a mojito. I had my first ever mojito at the hotel in San Juan, and I fell in love. This was not my last.
I returned to the sidelines of the orange game as the orange fell from the neck of one of the girls. It became trapped in her clevage, supported by the chest of the guy trying to grab the orange. For what felt like minutes they struggled. They never quite managed to recover…almost there…just go for it guy…just dig in there with your chin…stupid boobs in the way…come on…
I guess I got distracted. Luckily, the girl on the sidelines initiated conversation with me first! We started chatting about normal stuff. Where we’re from, the ridiculousness of the orange game, our names – hers was Jessica. Eventually they turned on the music and turned down the lights, and it got harder to talk. The dance floor was depressingly sparse, so I was about to ask Jessica if she wanted to go talk somewhere else…
“You want to go talk somewhere else?” She beat me to it again! Lucky me.
We slowly walked up the boat, eventually making it to the upper pool deck (floor 12). Around midnight we stopped at the back of the boat, overlooking the city of San Juan. (We thought the boat was supposed to be gone by now, but whatever.) It was a great view. There, we talked.
She’s also on the boat with her parents, but on their dime. She’s some kind of engineering student somewhere near Chicago. Works for Procter & Gamble. About to graduate. We talked about highschool, what we used to do in our free time. What we do now. She told me about the St Patricks Day tradition at her college that involves drinking for over 24 hours. (She failed.) I told her about Magic and all that jazz, and she had never heard of it.
I googled myself at some point. I know. I KNOW. I couldn’t help it. My phone still had internet in San Juan. This isn’t the first time I’ve done that on a first date, either. (Or the second.) I thought about leaving this part out of the story. Like, really thought about it. I guess this is a cry for help. I have a problem. That said, it fit into the conversation naturally enough (to try to explain what the hell I do) and she responded well enough. I’m so sorry, forgive me.
Otherwise, I was feeling fairly confident. She was responding well to my general goofyness. When she asked “so are you getting off with your parents tomorrow?” I responded “Wow, that’s pretty forward…uh…are YOU getting off with your parents tomorrow?” Laughter. I told her the Napolean joke I learned from Paul Barclay’s British cousin. Much laughter. (Oh, it’s a good one. And not the last time I tell that joke on this trip.) At some point I try to explain what a Satyr is, and she seems equally amused by “my god how did this conversation get here…”
We got physically closer throughout the conversation. She initiated contact by touching my arm a few times. I’m pretty out of my element, but things seem to be going well. She was cute, but I wasn’t head over heels. This was at least somebody I could see hanging out with from time to time on the cruise. Again, I chose “do it” over “don’t do it”.
So, around 1:30am when she said “all right, it’s past my bed time, I should head out,” I chose to go for it. In a way. I feel so incredibly awkward just attacking their face and hoping they want me to attack their face. It feels rude to me. So I ask, in a way that felt natural, “all right, can I kiss you?”
“Maybe,” she responded. Seemed to me like she was being a little shy, but I took it as invitation enough. If the ‘maybe’ was actually a ‘no’, she just wouldn’t accept the kiss, right? I lean in…
It lasted about 4 seconds, at which point she pulled away. She lead the way back down the ship. I didn’t want to just be like “so what’s your room number?” because that sounds incredibly forward, though it’s actually kind of the only way to contact people on the ship. As we’re headed down the staircase, I start with “well I’m headed to six,” so she knows I’m not stalking her, or planning on following her back to her room.
“I’m headed to seven.” Okay…
With an approach that felt smooth as a button, I say “I don’t even know how to find people on these things.”
“Oh, it’s a small ship, you run into the same people all the time.” Then she launched into the standard anecdote about how she’s already seen the same old person three times. I respond with my similarly boring anecdote. I found the entire exchange awkward compared to the fluid conversation we were having earlier. We get to floor seven, and she just keeps walking, half-heartedly waves, says “goodnight,” and disappears.
I head back to my room and ponder over the last two hours. She certainly seemed into me, initiating everything except the kiss – conversation, change of location, physical contact. She laughed at my stupid jokes. The abrupt goodbye with no follow up seemed weird. Out of place. My guess was that she just wanted to keep things casual on the ship, especially this early. We hadn’t even left port yet! I was feeling the same way, and knew that we’d run into each other again at some point. I tried not to over think everything. (Was I bad kisser, was it the googling, was it the pun I made about her last name, WAS IT THE SATYR?!)
I was worried about being alone on the ship for the whole trip, but if nothing else I found somebody to hang out with. And if I did it once, I could do it again…right? I went to bed largely optimistic, and stunned about how well that went compared to my low expectations.
Up Next: SHIT GETS WEIRD