The Cruise – Epilogue

After we got off the cruise ship in San Juan, my parents and I headed back to the same hotel we stayed at before we got on the ship. We were all exhausted, so we decided not to venture out into the city. I took a nap once we could check into our room, then I caught up with my parents at the pool.

My parents told me that they got Rob and Corina’s email, and that they invited me to stay with them any time I’m in New York. I read my book in the sun, then we ate at the same Chinese restaurant. Once my parents went to bed I caught up on the internet. It’s a strange experience to download a week’s worth of missed internet. The world continued without you, but it’s still there to pick up once you’re back. I felt like a junkie, but I didn’t feel bad about it. I missed my friends.

I tried to find Jessica on Facebook. Then on LinkedIn. Then just anywhere on the internet COME ON! Her last name has a wide variety of spellings, and I don’t remember the exact area near Chicago where she lives. I felt desperate, then I felt frantic. If you thought YOU needed closure…I had this whole dream of confrontation and apology. If not that, I could at least get answers, right? What did I do? Eventually I gave up, and over time I needed it less. Her relevance to my life quickly faded once I returned to it.

The travel home was uneventful. We didn’t have to stay in an airport overnight, and I continued to make my way through Game of Thrones. I was halfway through book two once we made it to Seattle. I was in the passenger seat of the cab on the way home, and I could immediately tell by the way he was driving that my dad was going to comment on it once we got out. Sure enough, “on the gas, off the gas, on the gas, off the gas…” was the first thing my dad said once the cab drove away.

My parents stayed one final night. It was late, so we ordered pizza. My parents were amazed that not only could I order pizza online, but that they could watch the order progress as it made its way to my door. We watched another episode of Game of Thrones. I ordered Game of Thrones season one and had it sent to my parent’s house. (My dad texted me a few days after receiving it about NO SPOILERS how much he liked it, how “pissed” he was about a certain event, and which characters he liked. He picked good ones, and I was proud.)

I drove my parents to the airport the next morning, and we parted ways. I was glad we got to go on the cruise and spend time together. My biggest fear of writing this series is that I don’t want my parents to think I regret the trip. I don’t. I hope they understand that I play up the dramatic elements in order to write an entertaining story, and play down the time I enjoyed simply being in their presence. I was so glad that I could give this gift to my parents, and it made me want to make more time for them in my life. I’m hoping we can go camping this summer.

I found myself wanting to /do/ something with my cruise experience, so I wrote about it. The prologue turned out longer than I expected, and I didn’t think it was that interesting…but you guys liked it! After I posted day one, I knew I was in deep. This was going to be a thing. I promised myself I wouldn’t change my FB profile picture or change to a non-cruise banner until I was done writing….boy am I tired of cartoon Jon as seen by Cathy Loucks.

If nothing else, the cruise was worth it as an avenue for glorious, glorious attention. My close friends know that I’m not joking about that, at all. I need attention. More of you probably know this than I realize, so thanks for indulging me. Multiple friends have gone out of their way to tell me how much they like what I wrote, and those moments have meant a lot to me lately.

I ask myself what I would do differently if I was to go on another cruise. I would bring a friend, or go with a group of friends. I think that helps. At least if you’re in the 20-35 age group, there’s not a lot of people your age. Even outside of those groups I bet it’s nice to have an emotional anchor in a friend.

That said, a friend would have held me back. These stories would be less interesting. There would be less talking to strangers. There would be less vulnerability. I was jumping into social situations with no backup plan other than reading a book alone, and there’s something to that. There’s something to making your own way. I guess I’m saying it’s not all downside going on your own, but it’s hard.

As much as I’ve enjoyed the reception to these stories, I felt vulnerable every time I posted an update. While I played up the dramatic elements, the feelings were real. I’m not the most confident, ummm, girl talker, or whatever. And I have a lot of emotional baggage when it comes to that stuff. There were tears on the trip. It’s tough to put those interactions out there for people to see, but you guys have encouraged me to do it more often. Still, no matter how much you guys told me you liked a post, I always felt dumb after posting the next update. Like somehow the others were just luck. Like maybe the attention will all go to my head and I’ll lose whatever “it” was that people enjoyed. I’m doubting myself even as I talk about doubting myself…

Finally, abruptly, I switch from focusing on the past to the present. The past was long, the present is short.

I’m sitting in Cal Anderson park as the sun sets. I’m 15 pounds lighter than when I got off the ship. My hands are getting cold, but I like the atmosphere here. There’s just enough easy-to-ignore distraction to keep me focused. Later tonight I’ll spend more time than I think it will take to edit this. Then I’ll post it. Then this whole…thing…will be over.

The future is scary.

I want to keep writing, but I’m not sure what to write about. The cruise was a unique opportunity. I was surrounded by literally thousands of people I didn’t know and would probably never see again. The only two people I knew went to bed at 10pm every night.

I think I’m going to start a blog. I could write about current events, but I feel weird writing about my friends to their face. I want to continue to be open. I could start an anonymous blog, but you guys are a lot of my motivation to write. I don’t think I’ll get the same sort of satisfaction writing anonymously. I think I’ll start by writing about the people I knew while growing up, but that well is going to run dry eventually, and there’s a big tender spot I’m still scared to touch. I guess I’ll just figure that out when I get there.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Really. Thanks for the attention, the nice words, all that stuff. Let me know what you think I should do next. Tell me what you think I should call my blog, if that’s even a good idea. Feel free to tell me that I’m full of myself.

Finally, as a reward for slogging through this whole thing, I’m going to leave you with the Napoleon joke. I used this joke multiple times on my trip, and continue to use it to this day. I blatantly stolen it from Paul’s cousin’s friend. As you read the joke, imagine a terrible and inconsistent french accent…

THE NAPOLEON JOKE

So, Napoleon is invading Russia, right? He’s got his whole army getting ready to invade Russia. He pulls out his telescope looking glass thingy, extends it, and looks off into the distance. Oho! Out in the distance, he sees a bacon tree! Shock-leh-blue! A bacon tree! I must find out about ze bacon tree!

So Napoleon sends out a rider. You, ride out to ze bacon tree and report back on what you find. The rider leaves, and they wait, and days pass, and the rider doesn’t come back. Shock-leh-blue, I must find out about ze bacon tree!

So Napoleon gets ten men together. He tells them to ride out to ze bacon tree and report back on what they find. They leave, days pass, and they don’t come back. Napoleon is getting worried. What about ze bacon tree, I must find out about ze bacon tree!

As jokes go, Napoleon gets half his army together. Ride to ze bacon tree, then report back to me! They leave, days pass, they don’t return. I must know about ze bacon tree! He sends the other half of his army, they don’t return. Shock-leh-blue, I must find out about ze bacon tree!

His army is gone, so Napoleon gets on his own horse and sets off for ze bacon tree. After a day of riding, he comes across a soldier on the ground. It’s one of his. He’s laying on the ground, all cut up and bloody, he’s missing an arm. He’s dying. Napoleon gets off his horse and goes up to the soldier. What about ze bacon tree? I must know about ze bacon tree!

And the soldier says, “It was not…a bacon tree…it was…a ham bush!”

😀

The Cruise – Day Seven

My last full day on the ship started like most of the others. I woke up, showered, spent too much time putting on sunscreen, then met up with my parents.

That day we were in St. Croix. We had no planned excursions, so this was a pretty low-key day. Off the ship and down a long dock there was a little shopping area. Luckily we were the only ship in port, so things weren’t packed. The shops were around a clock tower and an open grassy area – much less claustrophobic than our first port of the trip.

The shops were typical, but almost in a charming way this time. I was actually terrified that my parents would notice the T-shirt shop full of the types of t-shirts that old people from Montana would like. You know, like “Porta Backyarda” with a Rastafarian dog in a beach chair lounging in the cartoon sun. Or maybe something along the lines of “god invented beer, it’s in the constitution.” Or those shirts that large people wear with the torso of a skinny girl with massive cartoon boobs. My parents would never buy that shirt, but I was terrified they would notice it and call me over, loudly, laughing about it. A part of me was sad when they didn’t.

Eventually we wandered out of the shopping area and found ourselves at some old red fort-turned-museum. I took a lot of pictures because I liked the deep contrasting colors of the red fort, green grass, and blue sky. They had some rooms in the fort set up to look like bedrooms of the time. I imagined living there, and it seemed nice. It’s hard to think of those people as the same people we are. Contrast that with the rooms about massive slavery. Again, it’s hard to think of those people as the same people we are. In the middle of our vacation my parents and I had a little “people can be awful” moment while looking at these dioramas about slaves.

For another interesting contrast, at some point I walked by a room with an open door where two kids were sitting at a desk watching something on a computer. To them, this wasn’t a museum, or an old fort, or the slave’s quarters – it was just where mom worked.

We looked around for a place to eat lunch and found an open bar that looked like it would have decent food. We sat at the bar and started chatting with the bartender, who looked American. He told us a long story about moving closer and closer to the equator over the course of his life. About a wife and kid that live somewhere back home. He had a big chipped tooth and was very jovial.

I was half listening and half watching tennis on TV. Serena Williams was behind 2 games to 5 facing game point. I watched her claw her way back, not drop another game, and win the match. I never watch tennis, but this impressed me. I couldn’t help but feel bad for the other girl – that’s a tough lead to give up. Why am I watching sports on my vacation?

After we left the bar we headed to the beach. We walked down the beach for a few minutes, shoes sinking in the sand. Then I went back to the ship, and my parents weren’t far behind. I read my book and got ready for dinner, which was once again good, but uneventful.

After dinner I headed to karaoke. I arrived just as it was starting, and the place was a little empty. I saw a couple of familiar faces, but nobody I had really talked to before. They encouraged me to sign up, and the guy running it pressured me into going first. It turns out they actually had Feel Good Inc, it was just listed with no artist, so I signed up for that, again with the intent of doing the Eminem song over it. I was hoping Devon would be there to see it, but alas. Perhaps I could still capture some of that same spark from before?

My performance was fine, but the room didn’t have the same energy to it. There weren’t that many people. I decided to check out the comedian’s main show in the theater, and I’d return to karaoke afterwards.

The comedian covered the same themes as the last time I saw him – relationships, men vs. women, being old, etc. Again, his content was average, and his delivery was good. He had a good bit about wanting to build a rocket with his friends after seeing it on TV.

When I returned to karaoke things had picked up considerably. I should have known! Devon was there with her mom, and I cursed myself for not waiting to perform later in the night. I resolved not to repeat the same mistake as last time by forcing a song I was unfamiliar with. I sat with Devon in a crowd of young people that I had seen around the ship. Karaoke continued as normal, and Devon and I talked idly from time to time. She seemed drunk, and she told me a story about her and her mom seeing me from all the way across the promenade earlier. Apparently her mom, who was also drunk, was shouting my name, but I didn’t hear her.

After karaoke I followed Devon and the young group, including the guy she seemed to kind of be with maybe, down to Jesters, which was empty. It was still early, so we wandered through the casino to kill time, eventually running into the twins and their father. They were playing blackjack and drinking. The group dispersed around the casino, and I found myself standing with Devon and the guy. I felt awkward, so I said I might see them at Jesters later, and I left.

I went by the late night café and grabbed some pizza. There I ran into the three gay guys I had gotten to know, so we started talking. Somehow they got me talking about myself, the trip, how I was feeling. I found myself opening up to them, going deeper into hard breakup stuff than I intended. While it was nice to talk about it, I was also embarrassed that I was going into it.

Eventually they went to bed and I knew it was time to check out Jesters. It was the last night on the ship. I hoped to find resolution with Jessica. Something, anything! I resolved to talk to her if I saw her. I must know. I can’t let the story end like this! Not like this.

I walked into the club and onto the dance floor, and there she was. I saw Jessica immediately, and she saw me. In that instant, her face had a look of shock. In slow motion I saw her eyebrows raise, her eyes grow wide, her mouth gape, and she turned away. She turned to her friend, bent down, and whispered in her ear. The friend stared right back at me, the hint of a smile on her face. Then Jessica continued to dance, now with her back to me.

I felt the willpower drain from me. This whole experience was demoralizing and degrading. I couldn’t help but laugh at how ridiculous it all was. So I laughed, and I didn’t confront her.

At this moment, I heard a “hey!” I turned, and it was one of the girls from the night I drunkenly told a group of teens the napoleon joke.

“Hey!” I smiled, glad that somebody else was glad because they saw me. I danced with them for a few minutes, but didn’t feel like making myself a part of their group. Maybe I didn’t have it in me. Maybe I was off my game. Mostly, they seemed a little too young, and I felt uncomfortable pushing my way into their group.

I looked around, and saw Devon there with the guy. They seemed to be having a good time, and I didn’t want to intrude. That’s when I spotted Blake across the dance floor. The whole gang was here! Maybe I could get a little resolution after all? I made my way to that side and walked up to Blake. “Hey,” I said.

“Hey.” She looked at me, then looked down and away.

“…how was your week?”

“Ok.” She didn’t even look at me to say this.

So I left.

I walked out of jesters, up the stairs, down the hall, and right up to my room. I put my hand on the door handle…and I hesitated. Could this be the end?

Not yet. I still had a chance to experience the ship one last time. To cement the memories and experience the fresh air. I had one last chance to choose “do it.” I let go of the handle and started to walk.

I went down the promenade and saw the pointing statue guy, the window shops, the Irish pub. I went through the casino with its slot machines and card tables. I went past the schooner bar and its piano player. I went up the stairs with art that looked like old rugs pulled straight from grandma’s house, and it looked like grandma smoked heavily. I went through the empty karaoke bar on the top floor that may have been closed off to non-diamond members. I walked around the pool and saw couples in the hot tubs. I saw teenagers as I walked through the arcade. I was going to make one last stop, at the back of the boat, to look over the ocean one last time.

I turned the corner, and stopped in my tracks. There, standing at the back of the boat, arms on the railing, head down, was Jessica, right where we kissed that first night.

I took a step forward. “Jessica?” My mouth didn’t know quite how to say the name. I don’t know if I sounded surprised, curious, angry, or just desperate. She turned, startled. Something was wrong. I looked…she had been crying.

“What?” It sounded like she didn’t quite know how to say the word, either.

What are you doing here? Why have you been ignoring me? Why did you kiss me? Why have you been a total bitch?!

All that came out was, “…what did I do?”

All she said was “nothing,” dismissively. She turned back to the ocean.

I stepped closer. “No, seriously, you’ve been treating me like shit. What’s your deal? You /chose/ to kiss me back, then you ignored me the rest of the trip.”

“I told you, I’m kind of seeing somebody.” There was desperation in her voice.

“Kind of? YOU started talking to ME! YOU suggested we go for a walk! The hell you’re seeing somebody!”

Her head went down again. She looked just like I found her when I rounded the corner. “He died,” she said. “He’s dead.”

“…oh my god.” As my brain processed this, my body moved next to her. My arm went around her shoulder, and her body leaned into me. “I’m so sorry,” I said.

“Me too.”

I asked if she wanted to talk to me. I asked her to talk to me.

He was going to meet her parents on this cruise, but he got in a car accident. She didn’t know what to do. Her parents told her the cruise would be good for her. That she could relax and meet people. She followed them, and for a while it was working. She found herself at the singles event, and she noticed me. I was tall, like he was. She said I looked nice. She said she forgot, for a while. When we kissed, she remembered.

“I’m sorry,” I said. I told her that I was also trying to forget, but that I couldn’t imagine what she was going through. I pulled her a little tighter, and she turned and hugged me. Maybe now I could understand. Maybe now I could forgive her. Maybe now I could finally be…

…asleep. I looked down, and my hand was still on the handle to my room. This /was/ the end. There was no late night stroll. There was no moment. There would be no closure. I was done with the boat, and it was done with me. I turned the handle and walked into my room. The door closed behind me, and I was in the dark.

I woke up early the next day, still in the dark. Like every other morning, I turned on the light. I showered. I put on my clothes. I met up with my parents. Together, we left the ship, and we didn’t get back on.

The Cruise – Day Six

This was an early alarm day since I had to meet my parents off the boat by 8:30 to go on our excursion. I showered groggily, put on sunscreen, rushed through breakfast, got bad directions off the boat, got the correct directions off the boat, and found my parents right at 8:30. We were in St. Lucia.

My parents had told me that this was a “Land and Sea” tour. We were getting on a boat and cruising around, and then getting in jeeps and cruising around. My parents liked the tours where you drive yourself in a jeep or a dune buggy around the city. My dad enjoys being in control of his own vehicle (certainly a metaphor I would use if I were writing his biography) and they both enjoy driving around and looking at scenery. That was their honeymoon – just driving around Montana. (“We didn’t have money for anything else.”) We camped a lot growing up, and part of camping was getting in the truck and driving around old logging roads for the afternoon.

The first part of any good tour, though, is “line.” And it was hot. Like hella hot. Luckily, the tour guides could see the white melting off of us, and they found shade for us to wait in. These tour guides were great, actually. They were my favorite locals of the entire trip. I didn’t feel like we were being drug around by reluctant prisoners or greasy con men. I felt like I was interacting with people that not only liked their jobs, but actively cared about their jobs. Over the course of the tour it became clear to me that they cared about us, the tourists, because they cared about their island. They wanted to teach us about St. Lucia and show us what it had to offer. They made me care about what they care about, which makes for a great tour.

The next part of the tour was “sea”, so we boarded a catamaran. (“A yacht or other boat with twin hulls in parallel.”) We cruised around the island shore for a while. I enjoyed being out on the water. I found a chair and took a small nap to the sound of the boat and the feeling of the wind and the waves. I woke up and suddenly realized that I should be taking pictures of things. If you look through my photos, you’ll see a lot of shoreline pictures from the rest of this catamaran journey. We even saw the shoreline where some movie or something was filmed probably before I was born. The coolest sightwas the two big triangular peaks, the Pitons.

Eventually we stopped at a beach. The boat anchored offshore, and people could swim from the boat to the beach and hang out. I didn’t get off the boat. I wasn’t really dressed for it, though that’s probably because I’m not really that into water anyway. Sometimes I wonder if I picked this up from my mom, who is actively phobic. This is one of those moments where I chose “don’t do it.”

This did prove to be an interesting social experiment, though. I’d guess there were 50 of us on that boat. The tourists were told that they had 45 minutes on the beach, and a horn would blow when it was time to get back on the boat. About 10 of us stayed on the boat. Another 20 hung out around the beach, sitting in the sun or swimming in the water. The other 20 decided to wander down the beach. I couldn’t tell whether or not this was allowed, but they didn’t seem to care.

I’m watching the time tick down, and some of these people are still walking. They’re just dots way down the beach at this point. The tour guides looked worried. One of them shouted “there are snakes over there!” More to herself than anyone else.

Around the 40 minute mark, they blew the horn. The nearby people started making their way back. They swam from the shore to the boat and climbed the drop-down stairs onto the boat. There was a mom on the boat that asked her son “where’s Christina?” He didn’t know.

It was clear that the people really far down the beach didn’t hear the horn. They tried again. The Mom started shouting “CHRISTINA! CHRISTINA GET BACK HERE! Oh that girl what is she doing. CHRISTINA! CHRISTINA! Where is that girl.” I tried to dissect the relationship between the mother and the daughter, but all I could decide for sure was that I’d stick with my family.

Eventually the rest of the group, including Christina, came into view. The mom continued to yell until Christina was back on the boat. This is about an hour after we anchored at the beach. The guides did their count…and we were still two short. Oh, look down the beach – two dots are slowly making their way back. I guess we just have to wait for them.

The two dots turn into two blond old white people, I’d guess in their late 40’s. They never hurried, and never looked the least bit concerned. They meandered onto the boat a full 30 minutes late. I think when they first got off the boat they just started walking down the beach, and didn’t turn around until “oh I guess it’s been 45 minutes I suppose we should head back.” They sat down on the boat and continued to smile and talk among themselves. It was almost creepy how much they didn’t acknowledge the group.

The boat made its way to port and we switched to the “land” part of the “sea and land” tour. This is when my parents realized that we weren’t quite on the tour they expected. Where we were expecting jeeps, they had vans. They loaded about nine of us into each van, plus the driver and a tour guide.

Earlier in the day, while we were waiting in line to get on the boat, we could see a line of jeeps. The tour guides said that half of the tour started on land, then went to sea – switching with the other half. While that was true, the jeeps were part of a different excursion entirely. My mom thought maybe she signed up for the wrong one by mistake, but it’s also possible we got shifted to the wrong tour in the chaos of the multiple itinerary changes due to boat problems.

Regardless, the van tour wasn’t so bad. I enjoyed watching the island roll by as we drove up and down windy roads, passing through towns and past scattered buildings. Every fence was a hodge-podge of wood and metal roofing sheets. Later in the day the kids got out of school, and they all wore uniforms. The guide explained that there was no public transportation for school kids, so they needed to find their own ride, or walk home. There were a lot of kids walking on the edge of these cliff-lined roads that could already barely fit two passing cars.

Our first stop was the “natural mud spring.” They kept marketing it as a can’t-miss opportunity. “They’ll charge you $100 back home, but here you can cake yourself in mud for free!” I didn’t go in, and neither did my parents, but it was fun to watch. I wondered how this natural mud spring worked. With the amount of mud the tourists were taking with them caked to their bodies, I assumed that somebody was refilling the mud supply each day.

I shit you not, the last two people back onto the vans were the same two people that held us up on the beach. Their attitude remained the same. At first I thought they were avoiding embarrassment by pretending not to notice, but I eventually decided they genuinely didn’t care. We made four or five land stops, and they were the last people back in the vehicle, every time.

The next stop was lunch. (By the pink flower-lined dirt road pictures.) A simple buffet, a moment to sit and relax, water, juice. After lunch we switched from the vans to two buses. This is when our tour guide started giving us the history of the island.

St. Lucia features two Nobel prize winners, which is is pretty remarkable given the island’s population. There’s a lot of fighting in the island’s history. European settlers fought the natives a lot. A lot of settlers died from disease. Various European powers fought for control of the island for a long time due to its strategic military location. English is taught in the schools, but children learn a unique brand of creole that’s only taught in homes. Kids take a test after middle school to see if they get into high school, and which kind of high school. Their government includes some kind of appointed representative from England, but they also elect a prime minister – though I guess the same guy has held office for a long time. They used to have a sort of monopoly on a certain crop I can’t remember, but competition emerged and hurt the island economically. There’s a massive oil storage facility on the island that we circled during the entire tour. We passed a massive high-scale resort that I hoped I could afford to go back to one day.

What I appreciated about the guide’s description of the island was how honest it felt. They were clearly proud of the good things, yet honest about areas where they wished the island would improve. Being born on an island like this suddenly struck me as a tough life. It would be hard not to feel trapped. I started to wonder what percentage of the natives never leave the island from birth to death. So much of their economic strength is based on outside influences. I started seeing Caribbean culture and economy in a new light.

The other stops during the tour were typical tourist stops. We stopped at some kind of tapioca processing house – apparently tapioca is an important island commodity – then we stopped at a shoreline market. This was in Anse La Raye, which featured a badass looking church that was too far away for me to get good pictures of. The beach was beautiful in a weird way. There were boats pulled up on shore, torn up tarps, garbage. And it was quiet and had a lot of personality. It was a great place to take pictures, though local beggars would try to pose in your shots. At that point you pretty much have to give them money, so I ended up feeling uncomfortable and didn’t take as many pictures as I would have otherwise.

The market had the typical tourist offerings, but I’ve already ranted about those. What I haven’t ranted about yet, though, are the necklaces.

Every single stop on this island featured a crew of locals with necklaces all over their arms. They would come up to you and offer 1 for $10, or 3 for $20, or 2 for $5, or 5 for $10…basically whatever offer they pegged you as. You would be looking off at some scenery, then turn around and run into one of these guys.

They said a lot of different things about the necklaces. One of the common ones was “I made these.” This got weirder the 10th time you heard it. As you would walk into a place, they would ask you your names, then use it against you. “Cathy, Cathy, you want one? You said you would buy.” When we got back into the vans after the mud spring, one of the passengers said “they make these out of the volcanic ash!” Riiiight. They were comparing the prices they got on their necklaces throughout the trip, and the range was pretty wide. I started doing the math, wondering how many necklaces I could make for $5 worth of bulk beads.

As I’m doing math and wondering why I would ever need a necklace from some random tourist trap, a guy walks up to me and my parents, offering necklaces. We did our standard polite-yet-firm and non-engaging “no thank you.”

“But this is how we make a living. We live here.” Oh. Right, I guess that makes sense. I started to wonder if I should be buying necklaces and knick-knacks I didn’t want as part of a kind of tourist tip to the island. Maybe the only reason I can be here is because tourists bring money and buy random crap. My parents, grizzled veterans, continued their polite refusal. My heart remained cold, yet thoughtful. I’m still not sure how I feel about it.

Driving into the town where the cruise ship was docked was surreal. We abruptly shifted from wilderness and scattered shacks to chain stores, malls, businessmen. I felt like I was downtown in a major city. The giant oil storage facility marked the edge of the wilds.

Technically we were late getting back to the ship, but we joined a long line of other technically late people. (I blame the always-last duo.) Back on the ship I showered and got ready for dinner. I ran into Rob and Corina on my way to dinner, and they had gotten engaged that day. (Awwww!) Dinner was nice and uneventful.

After dinner, I got a massage. My mom convinced me to sign up for one earlier in the trip, and I decided to treat myself. I’ve never had a massage before. It was a “hot rock” massage, which they recommended for a first timer. I filled out some paperwork, answered a few questions about where/why I’m stressed or sore, then stripped down to my boxers and laid on the table.

The massage therapist would set these smooth rocks into some sort of heating container. She’d then rub these rocks against my muscles, using warming massage oil. It felt…weird. It was simultaneously relaxing and incredibly stressful. Sometimes it hurt, but you’re trying to relax and not tense up, while also letting them know that it hurts. I found myself in another unfamiliar social situation when all I wanted to do was relax.

In the end, I was glad I did it. Would massage again. Now that I think about it, she mentioned I had a lot of knots in my shoulders. Friends have pointed this out to me. Maybe I should work on that.

Afterwards my entire body felt relaxed and warm. My shoulders and neck were coated in some kind of icy-hot stuff, which felt good on my red neck. I carried this calm energy into the casino, and sat down at the poker table.

A couple guys were sitting around waiting for a game to start, and I seemed to be the momentum they needed. I told them that I needed to leave before midnight, but I’d play until then. Some of our old favorites were there: Grizzled McMustache, ReBuy Jones, random old dude #2, The Metro Foreigner. I didn’t see a ton of action, but had one big hand go my way. Here’s another paragraph for my poker friends, once again with less detail than I’m sure they would like.

The blinds were $1-$3, same as last time. There were probably seven of us. I was the dealer, and McMustache straddled. Three people folded, and I raised it to $12. I had pocket Aces. (Maybe I should raise more? The straddle threw me off.) Small blind folded, big blind called, and straddle McMustache called. The flop was 10-5-3 rainbow. (That’s when there’s no matching suits, right?) Big blind checks, McMustache checks, so I bet $20. Big blind folds, then McMustache raises me to $40. So I started to think about what he could have. He won the tournament I was in and seemed to know what he was doing. I was also playing fairly nitty, so I thought he would assume I had a good hand and wouldn’t be battling me without a hand of his own. I assumed he had something like kings or queens. I re-raised him to $80. He went all in, and I was pretty in at this point, so I called. He showed 10-5 suited. That was not what I expected. I guess he’s willing to battle with that, but again the straddle threw me off. (I’ll have to bug Marshall about what I can learn from this.) Whelp, lucky me, the turn was an Ace, so I got the money anyway. Go Loucks!

Would you look at that, it’s almost midnight, time to go! I walked away up $50 in cash games on the cruise, but down $100 in poker overall when you count the tournament. I mostly treat poker like I’m paying for lessons, so this result was fine with me.

I left poker so that I could make it to a late night comedy show in the lounge where they had Karaoke. It was pretty packed, and I found myself standing next to Devon’s mom. We chatted a bit before the show started. The comedian was totally fine. His routine was fairly standard relationship comedy. The differences between men and women, stuff like that. His delivery and expressions were great, though – it was clear that has honed his craft.

Afterwards I swung through Jesters, but wasn’t feeling it. I looked down on the dance floor from the top floor, saw Jessica and the usual crew, and just didn’t feel like dealing with that interaction. I was not up all night to get Loucksy. It was late and I had gotten up early that day, so I was content to read a few chapters and fall asleep. In the end, I appreciated this nice and less-socially-stressful-than-usual day.

UP NEXT: St. Croix! The last day on the ship! One final Jessica moment!

The Cruise – Day Five

This was the first day where I needed to use an alarm to get up, but I still got a good amount of sleep. I had to meet my parents at a specific time so that we could get off the boat in our first port of the trip – Antigua!

I ate breakfast and started walking towards my parent’s room. On my way I ran into a group I recognized, the one with the pretty girl in the blue dress, the husband that doesn’t dance, and their two friends. I stopped to say hi, and one of the guys asked “Microsoft or Amazon?” They laughed, and I looked at them quizzically. “Well, we’re both developers and think we can spot one of our own. You said you were from Seattle, so you must be at Microsoft or Amazon.” I told them I’ve actually worked at both, but I’m not a developer, and we chatted about work for a little bit.

It was nice to kind of have friends, but it didn’t seem like I could insert myself into their group as the 5th wheel and start hanging out with them. Maybe there’s a way to do that, but it seemed weird. I said goodbye and met up with my parents.

The exodus of a cruise ship is an experience. My parents and I followed the person in front of us, down to the correct floor, through the security gate, down the ramp to the dock, off the dock, until suddenly we’re released into a busy marketplace. I felt like a tiny piece of a large swarm. We were a horde of hungry ants descending on this small port town.

The streets were tiny and packed with people. Apparently there was another ship that was also in port that day. It was really hot, and I was following my parents by darting from one patch of shade to the next. The shops were a mixture of t-shirt and jewelry shops. Lots and lots of jewelry shops.

I realized that I was in a much different place in my life than the last time I was on a cruise 10 years ago. I had no desire to buy anything, though my mom made me buy a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. I used to want to buy little wooden turtles and key chains and sand-filled gecko toys and color-changing t-shirts and necklaces 3-for-10 dollars. I would keep these knickknacks around my room, wear them to school, show other kids. When I moved out, all these things went into a box. With each move, less things made it to the next location.

Now, I keep a pretty clean life. I love throwing things away because it means I will never have to think about that thing again. I still have some random doodads around my apartment, but only the strongest survive.

I’ve also got a job. The relative value of a t-shirt is much lower to me now. If I want something, I usually just buy it. I have Amazon ship it to me. I don’t own a color-changing cartoon cruise ship and smiling sun t-shirt because I don’t want one, not because I haven’t had the opportunity to buy one yet.

Standing there in the hot sun, I felt cold. Heartless. Where was my sentimentality? Didn’t I want /things/ to help me remember this trip? No…not these things. Not from this town that seemed to both need and hate us. Not an assembly-line seashell turtle I remember seeing ten years ago on a different island. That’s not how my memory works anymore.

The worst offenders were the necklaces – but that’s a rant for day six.

Just as I was getting worried that this island was nothing but shoulder-to-shoulder t-shirt shops, we stumbled into a peaceful courtyard. My mom went to find a bathroom, my dad wandered into a store, and I found a bench in the shade. There was grass and space. Across the courtyard was an open restaurant. I took this picture:

Courtyard

We went to the restaurant and were seated in a few minutes. It was called Napoleon Bonaparte. The waitress was a beautiful woman, probably in her 40’s. There was something about her, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. She had a unique look that I appreciated. My parents got a drink, and I got delicious crab cakes the waitress recommended. It was nice to have a moment to sit and chat with my parents in a calm atmosphere.

We didn’t have any excursions planned, so we just made our way back to the boat. I was all hot and greasy (…ladies) after wandering around in the sun, so we went swimming in the pool and hung around the pool bar. Devon (the girl from Karaoke) and her mom were right next to us. Her mom started chatting with my parents, and I had a small conversation with Devon. I never felt like there would be a thing between us, and in a way that took the pressure off. She was really nice, which I was thankful for. I needed that.

We were back in the main dining hall with our table mates for dinner for a largely uneventful dinner. Nobody was accidentally racist.

After dinner I went to a show in the main theater – an Elton John impersonator. I was excited to watch a piano player. The show was OK. I wouldn’t call it great, but it was still good. There were some nice solo piano moments as well as full-band rock-outs.

The performer tried to get the audience to participate a lot. Clapping, singing, that sort of thing. He did a good job getting us into the singing, only to run us up against parts where he knew we didn’t know the words. “Oh no no no, I’m a rocket man. Rocket man! …uhhh…” Turns out the next lyrics are “burning out his fuse up here alone.” Who knew.

Still, this kind of forced audience participation makes me uncomfortable. I want to watch the show, but instead I’m being peer-pressured and guilt-tripped into clapping, and now I’m thinking about how the old people in front of me are clearly offbeat and not even trying, and then I have to do social calculations on how long I should keep clapping as people around me stop clapping, then I stop and thirty seconds later he gets us clapping again and it starts all over. Please just let me sit here and not feel socially awkward.

I wasn’t very familiar with Elton John going into the show, so I couldn’t tell if his interactions with the audience were an attempt to emulate Elton John. The longer the show went on, it seemed more like a guy that dressed like Elton John and sang Elton John songs, but acted like himself. I think I’m more a fan of the I-am-really-this-person type of impersonator, but there’s a place for both.

After the show he was taking pictures with the audience as they left. I hung back so I could ask a couple questions, if he seemed into it. After everybody had gotten their pictures, I asked him how long he had been playing piano. He said he’s been playing since he was 18, but that he only learned so that he could sing – he can’t read music. I didn’t get the sense he was interested in shooting the breeze about piano, so I thanked him for the show and left.

I was a little hungry, so I made my way to the late-night cafe for a slice of pizza. I sat down at a table to eat and read, and noticed a group of three guys that were part of Jessica’s 20-something group. There was that decision making moment, and I somehow forced myself to choose “do it” by putting one foot in front of the other. I walked up to their table, said that I’ve seen them around, and asked if they minded some company. They welcomed me, so I sat.

They were two curly-haired twins, and a clean-cut guy. I had seen the twins around the ship, and they always struck me as nerdy introverts. I thought maybe I could find a place here.

I was wrong. These were not my people.

They’re all in college. This is something like their 11th cruise. The twins play tennis, and at least one of them has a big scholarship. They’re in the same fraternity, and they can’t wait for the clean-cut guy’s little brother to pledge next year. They’re all business or finance majors. They started talking about this woman across the cafe. “Is she wearing Abercrombie?” “She’s like 50.” “I can’t believe a 50-year-old is wearing Abercrombie.” “I bet her pussy is so dry.” “I’d still get in there.” “Gross, who let’s a 50-year-old wear Abercrombie.”

I suddenly felt like I was in some combination of The Wolf of Wall Street and Social Network, right down to the rich ambitious twins. These were the people that were going to rule the world one day, and I was a little terrified.

Still, I knew I was making biased generalizations about these guys, so I tried to lighten up.

“Oh man, were you at Jesters last night?” Briefly. “There were these Spanish girls that were down for anything.” “Aaaanything.” “Dude they were all over you.” “I know, they were nasty.”

Yep, totally nice normal guys just like me, this will be great.

They decided to go to Jesters, and I followed. I thought they might provide an interesting ‘in’ to the group that Jessica has been colding me to. While not my kind of guys, they didn’t seem to hate me, so at least Jessica hadn’t badmouthed me to the whole group.

We show up and the other half of the group is there, including Jessica. Like usual, Jessica did the ghasp, turn, talk to friend, and ignore routine. Another one of the guys recognized me from Karaoke and gave me a high five.

Dancing was awkward, and just got more awkward the longer the night went. While the three guys I was talking to earlier weren’t ostracizing me, it was clear that they were there to drink and dance, and I wasn’t really a part of their goals. I also wasn’t drinking – maybe that would have helped.

People would cycle from the dance floor to this bench area on the edge of the dance floor and back. Jessica usually was out of sync with my floor/seat cycle, or at least would sit at the far end of the seats, or dance in a smaller group with her back to me. I tried to start conversations with some of the other guys, but it was loud and not really a place for chatting. The girls were keeping their distance from me and not making eye contact, and I wondered what Jessica had told them. Was I a creepy stalker who wouldn’t leave her alone? Or was I the cute guy she has a crush on that she can’t hang out with because she has a boyfriend? I felt like the former.

Eventually I found myself on the bench with one other guy. He was somebody Jessica seemed to be friends with. Twice that night I saw her pull him off the bench to the dance floor, almost desperately. I read it as her trying to stay occupied while I was around. I wondered if that was the guy she said she was seeing, but that didn’t add up. Why would she go to the singles night if she brought her boyfriend on the ship? Or did she start “seeing” him during the second night? That seemed too fast, and I got the sense that she was done with me before that point anyway. I had largely decided that she made up the “seeing somebody” thing anyway.

I was tired of the whole routine and felt incredibly out of place and unwanted. I leaned over to the guy and asked him, “Am I the weird guy who just won’t leave?”

He shook his head, “Naw, you’re fine.”

I said “No, really. I think if you look around the room and you can’t see the creepy guy who won’t leave, then it’s probably you.” He shrugged. “Yep…I’m going to take off. See ya.”

That was it. I went back to my room and got into bed. I had some friendly interactions with people throughout the day, but still didn’t have a place to belong. I got to know the one group of single people my age a little better, but still felt unwelcome. Maybe tomorrow I’ll just read all night…

UP NEXT: The Land and Sea tour!

The Cruise – Day Four

As usual, I woke up in pitch darkness at some unknown time. I laid in bed with my eyes open, staring into the darkness, wondering if I could feel the ship moving. It was unclear.

When the guy cleans up your room while you’re at dinner, he leaves the itinerary for the next day on you bed, along with any other announcements. The night before I had gotten in a little drunk and a lot exhausted, so I had just thrown whatever papers were on my bed onto the table in the room.

The first thing I see is a pamphlet that introduces you to the art of folding towels into the shape of an animal. I found this hilarious. Often the housekeeping person will leave a fresh towel folded into the shape of a bunny with sunglasses on the bed, and then you take pictures of it and show your kid when you get back home and tell all your friends about it for the next year and never shut about about the damn towel animals. Usually, but not this trip! We just got the do-it-yourself pamphlet. I was amused and not at all upset. It was like coming back to an unmade bed with a “how to make your own bed you slob” pamphlet, but without the same sense of entitlement.

The next thing I saw was a letter from the captain from the evening before. The letter opened with apologies for the delays, another $250 credit to our rooms, and an explanation of the changes in ports due to the delays. The letter went on to talk about how confident they were that the ship would be moving by morning. (Can I feel the ship moving? I’m still not sure.) They even said something like “we know it’s hard for you to believe us after so many delays, but seriously, this time we mean it.”

I stepped off the elevator on my way to 11am breakfast…and I could still see San Juan. Surprise!

I learned throughout the day that it was the damn bolts on the propeller. They finally got the old propeller off, and they’re getting the new one on at a steady pace. They expected to leave port that evening. They were really sorry. And, best news of all, the cruise was now free!

Well, mostly free. We had the $500 credit to our rooms, which largely paid for my food and alcohol on the trip. Lucky for me, the cruise tickets were a present to my parents. Now I still get all the credit for an awesome gift, but I get all my money back! I didn’t really even mind missing ports – I was happier with the outcome than most.

I made my usual meandering rounds about the ship, and the casino was open! Somehow they were able to open the casino even though we were still in port. My guess is that somebody finally said “fuck it, let them sue us.” God bless. Some guys were playing poker, but it was a tournament that started about thirty minutes before I got there. I didn’t see the tournament in the itinerary, but they said there was another one at 3pm. I signed up, wandered around and read my book for an hour, and then nobody else showed up at 3pm. There was a 9pm tournament listed in the itinerary, so I signed up for that one and left.

The rest of the night was fairly typical. I found my parents and we hung out for the afternoon. Then I showered and changed for dinner. That evening my parents didn’t feel like going to the dining hall, so we had a casual dinner at the buffet. Again, the buffet over-delivered. I wasn’t really drinking this day – after two drunk nights, my body was tired of it.

Then…the ship moved! During dinner we finally left port. It was a maritime miracle. I hung out with my parents until it was time for poker, then headed back to the casino.

This time we had enough players – there were 9 of us. As the dealer was getting ready, one of the guys asked the table “does anybody know what we’re actually playing for?” Everybody at the table shook their head no. “What a bunch of degenerates, we don’t even know what we’re playing for.” The dealer explained that the winner of each tournament table qualified for a tournament on the last day. The winner of THAT table qualified for a big tournament on another cruise, with tickets to that cruise. There was also some amount of cash involved. Sure, whatever, take my $100, I want to finally play poker.

I wasn’t expecting to win, but I wanted to see what it was like to play with random people on a cruise. I only play every couple of weeks with experienced Seattle players, so I wasn’t really sure where I stood relative to random cruise ship guys.

The blinds were $1 $3. Blinds went up every 10 minutes. If at any time in the first 30 minutes you had less than $100, you could rebuy $100 worth of chips. At the 30 minute mark, everybody had one last chance to rebuy, AND everybody had a chance to pay $50 for $100 worth of chips. I never chose to rebuy, but I did the $50 option, putting me into the tournament for $150.

I enjoyed getting to know all the characters. There was Grizzled McMustache, the easy-going old smoker with white hair and a glorious mustache. There was ReBuy Jones, the guy who had to rebuy three times, then did the buy-up option. There was Girl, the girl. (All right, she was an older woman that sat next to me and was really nice.) There was The Metro Foreigner, with his open shirt, gold chain, near-majestic chest hair, and a girlfriend sitting behind him the whole time. In my head he was Italian, but I had no real evidence that he was foreign. There was The Spanish Gangster, the one guy at the table that didn’t speak English. His gangster appearance initially intimidated me, but his smile melted my heart. Then there were three generic old dudes. They could have switched seats at any time and I wouldn’t have noticed.

The first 30 minutes was a flurry of activity, but nobody left the table. I mostly stayed out of it, which I’ll get into. Then two of the generic old guys were out. Then The Metro Foreigner. Then another generic old dude. Then Girl.

I knew my faults as they were happening, but wasn’t sure how to navigate out of them. I knew in a tournament I was supposed to be more aggressive than usual, and I knew I had to start paying to see some flops, but I just couldn’t figure out when. Once it was down to me and the three other guys, it was clear that Grizzled McMustache and The Spanish Gangster had been feasting on all the rebuy money. Meanwhile, I had avoided most of the conflict, and was basically sitting at my starting stack. I was far behind, and knew I didn’t have a lot of time to make my move. The blind was already rough, and getting rougher.

My partial memory of this hand will bug my poker friends, but here you go: I had a King and the 8 of spades, I was the big blind, and I called a small raise from Rebuy Jones to see the flop after the small blind (The Spanish Gangster) folded. The flop was three spades, including the King of spades. I figured I was in decent shape – I had top pair, and a shot at a flush. I checked, Grizzled McMustache checked, Rebuy Jones raised, I re-raised, Mustache folded, and Rebuy re-raised. I knew I wouldn’t have much left to fight with if I backed down now, so I went all in, and ReBuy called. He showed me pocket Aces, including the Ace of Spades – not winning this one! No King showed up to save me, and I was knocked out of the tournament.

I basically durdled around for fourty-five minutes, then was forced to go all-in on the first decent hand I had. I didn’t give myself a lot of options, and failed to capitalize on the early madness. I had fun and felt like I learned something, so I was happy.

Eventually Rebuy Jones fell to Grizzled McMustache, who then took down the Spanish Gangster. Congratulations Grizzled McMustache!

We started a cash game after the tournament, with the same poker celebrities minus Girl and two of the random old dudes…though the remaining old dude might have just been another random person we picked up. I honestly don’t remember much of that game, other than I bought in for $150 dollars, played a few hands, and ended up losing it. I was fairly tired, and my fear of the rest of the ship kept me at the table.

“Fiiiiiiine,” I told the universe, “I’ll go check out Jesters.” It was probably sometime between midnight and 1am. The same group of young 20-somethings was there, including Jessica. She pulled the same move: see me, make a face of shock, turn to the girl next to her, say something to her while that girl stares at me, then blatantly ignore me. Yay. I tried to approach that group and join their circle…but Jessica made that really awkward.

Devon was there, the gorgeous girl from karaoke. Unfortunately, she was clearly there with this other guy. She smiled and said hi, the three of us kind of danced together for a little bit…but I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to intrude on whatever that was, and I didn’t feel like drinking to make everything seem better…so I left.

I wandered up to the late night cafe to get a slice of pizza and read before heading to bed. I saw the three dudes I hung out with at Karaoke, so I went over to their table and asked if I could join them. They welcomed me, then continued the conversation they were having.

As I listened, it became clear that they were sharing their “this is how I came out to my family” stories. I looked at one face…then the next…then the next…and the situation dawned on me. My best friends on the ship were the three gay dudes! Cool with me. I felt uncomfortable for a moment, thinking about how I had danced with one of them in jest(ers) the night before, and I was worried that I had been leading them on or something.

At this point, the first guy I had met at the pool dance party, the guy who was the other solo dancer, said “I came out to my family, and they were like ‘this isn’t news to us!’”. I laughed and said “It’s news to me!”

Laughter. “You’re not serious are you?”

“I really didn’t know. I just now realized.”

“What? I’ve been hitting on you for two days!” Laughter. “You were completely oblivious?”

“Yep, no idea. You just seemed like another guy on the dance floor who was trying to have a good time.”

He somehow called me cute – I can’t remember how, but it raised my self confidence. He also said that he figured out I was straight soon enough, and the other two agreed – I was no longer worried about having possibly led them on.

The normal conversation continued. They shared more stories, I asked some questions and learned things. I shared the short version of my own relationship history, and gave them a rundown of the drama I was experiencing on the ship. The main guy was actually from Seattle and knew about Magic and went to conventions and stuff, so he thought maybe I looked familiar. I told him we probably have mutual friends, which makes me feel bad for completely not remembering his name. Eventually it was time for bed and we all parted ways.

It was a pretty low-key night. I went to bed still feeling a little weird about things. I contemplated whether or not I was a creepy stalker. I mean, I knew I wasn’t actually a creepy stalker, but maybe that’s what I look like in Jessica’s eyes? I clearly wasn’t wanted, yet I kept showing up where she was. Is that shocked look on her face when she sees me the “oh shit I don’t feel safe that guy is stalking me” look? Did she turn to her friend and say “that’s the creepy guy who attacked my face and has been stalking me! Oh my god he won’t go away.” Am I supposed to avoid her for the rest of the cruise so that I don’t look like a creepy stalker?

Meh, whatever. I decided to keep doing what I was doing: hang out with parents, talk to strangers, and try to take advantage of the cruise and have fun.

NEXT UP: Antigua!

The Cruise – Day Three

I woke up, thankful that I drank a ton of water the night before, but still bummed about how things turned out. One moment everything had been going better than expected and I was making friends, the next moment they were ostracizing me. But I did not despair! I had plans that night, and I was going to bust out my secret weapon.

My “morning” was fairly typical. For starters, we were still in San Juan. (Weren’t we supposed to leave during the night?) I went to the buffet for lunch, which was actually great. I’d say the buffet was higher quality than the fancy evening dinners, relative to their expectations and limits.

I found my parents where I expected to find them: by the pool bar. I laid out in the sun with them and read my book between conversations. My parents introduced me to their friend Willy, a bus driver from New York that actually looks like snoop dog. Willy was funny, nice, and genuine – a welcome contrast from the customer service line people I met the day before, and I could see why my parents liked him.

Eventually the belly flop contest started – a favorite cruise ship event of my parents. We had a decent view on the top deck, and it was about what you would expect. The cruise ship director Mercedes would introduce a contestant, they would dance for the crowd, and then they would jump into the pool. One of the contestants, a large Santa-esque man, had red suspenders on with his swimsuit. My dad found this incredibly amusing, as he had just been telling my mom how he needed suspenders for his swimsuit. This man got third place. A larger man won.

During the competition, the other guy who was dancing alone the night before walked by and we started talking. I introduced him to my parents. Idle chit-chat, and at the natural moment in the conversation where I expected him to leave, he didn’t. Momentarily awkward, but fine with me. He watched the next event with us.

The next event was The World’s Sexiest Man contest. (I doubt it was widely publicized.) At least two of the contestants I recognized from the belly flop contest. Each contestant had about a minute to dance for the five lady judges. The guy that seemed clearly ahead on looks (the only fit young guy) bombed the dancing portion. I thought the guy with the nice smile had it in the bag, but the gold medal ended up on the neck of the Silver Fox. I think they need to ban fedoras.

The captain of the ship started making announcements in the afternoon about the ship’s progress. I’m sorry we’re still in San Juan, I know I said we were going to leave, the tool to fix the ship got in late, we’re removing bolts from the propeller, we’ll be giving you hourly updates, we expect to leave this evening. Stuff like that. I guess people had been complaining about the lack of communication. The first of the routine hourly updates was simply “This is your captain, work on the ship is continuing, thank you.” Everybody on the pool deck laughed. Oh how we laughed! I could sense the captain’s “you want communication? I’ll give you communication” attitude. These updates continued until 10pm, when he announced that they wouldn’t be making hourly announcements while people slept, and they expected to leave port that night.

Dinner was one of the dress up fancy nights, but my parents decided not to pack their fancy clothes this trip. (“It’s a whole other suit case and we just don’t want to deal with it.”) I wore my dockers and a nice shirt, continuing my tradition of looking sharp for dinner, but I still felt a little under dressed. A had another white Russian with dinner, and even though politics came up it was largely uneventful.

After dinner I went to a show in the theater, the one Oliver the dancer invited me to. It was a typical “history of rock” mashup of songs and dances. One of the singers did an amazing job with I Will Always Love You, so that was cool. Oliver struck me as the older goofier member of the bunch, and I spent a lot of the show wondering what it’s like working on a cruise ship. For some reason I was viewing them more as people than performers in that moment – maybe because I had met one of them, or maybe because that’s how my brain works. I had this little dream that Oliver would be like “oh hey, you’re cool. Want to hang out with us backstage?” But I knew it was just a dream.

After the show I changed into shorts and a t-shirt. (Even at night it’s hot in long sleeves and pants.) Then I made my way…to karaoke! I was determined to win over the hearts and minds of my fellow cruisers, and karaoke was my next play. I had been practicing Eminem’s Just Lose It for months. Whenever the right beat comes on the radio, I bust it out. I know the words. I was even going to do the lyrics over an entirely different song: Feel Good Inc by Gorillaz. If they didn’t love me after that, they would never love me!

They didn’t have Feel Good Inc. But they had Just Lose It! I knew I was losing some points without the live mashup twist, so I would just have to crush the normal version. I signed up, fifth on the list.

I got a drink at the bar – another white Russian. I was nervous. More than I thought I would be. Usually Talking to Strangers involves jumping right in. There’s a moment, and you take it. This time, it involved waiting and second guessing and thinking about all the choices in my life that led to that moment. Remember that time freshman year of High School when you sneezed in gym class during a boring lecture in your never washed gym clothes and then said straight faced to Alexis your crush “sorry I’m allergic to fun” and she just looked away? REMEMBER!? Yes, I remember, but that’s not why we’re here…

“Jon!” The guy I talked to earlier that day, the guy who was also dancing alone the night before, was sitting at a table I could see, and he was waving me over. A friend! I took the empty chair at his table and was introduced to the other two guys. I don’t remember a single one of their names.

As I sat down, I noticed the table next to us – a girl with her mom. The girl made eye contact with me, and there was a moment. I don’t know what it was exactly, but there was something. I know this sounds weird, but there was a kind of fierce energy in her eyes. And she was absolutely gorgeous, the most attractive girl I saw on the ship…yet she felt familiar to me. I knew I didn’t know her, but I felt like I did.

This look gave me energy. I was going to talk to this girl, and I was going to do it after I crushed my karaoke song. My nervousness was gone, and I had a purpose. The four people that went ahead of me also boosted my confidence. The first was a large adorable man that talked more than he sang. Next was a girl that I felt bad for, because she was clearly trying but just didn’t have the voice. Third was one of the guys at my table, who was just ok and was clearly having fun. Lastly, an older guy with an awesome gravely voice did his thing. While these people were all fine in their own ways, they were all low energy.

“Next up, we have Jon. Come on up Jon!” Clapping. “Where are you from Jon?”

“Seattle. Let’s hear it for people in their 20’s!” Laughter.

“I think you’re the only one Jon. Ok, take it away.”

The song starts with some idle “guess who’s back” stuff. Then the main lyrics kick in with “Come here little kiddies, on my lap. Guess who’s back with a brand new rap.” So far, they’re intrigued. They’ve noticed that I’m completely ignoring the screen. Heads are cocked. Ears are perked. I pounced, and I put some fire in it.

“And I don’t-a-mean-a-rappa as-a in-a new case of a-child molestation accusate AH-AH-AH-AH-AH! No worries.”

BOOM! I had ’em. They were clapping, smiling, responding well to my energy. I was rapping, dancing, doing my thing. I was out of breath halfway through the song, but by then it didn’t matter. There’s a part of the song that goes “Yeah boy shake that ass. Oops I mean girl. Girl girl girl…” and I looked right at the girl as I said “girl you know you’re my world.”

Ok, so maybe I was a little over the top. But I had fun, and that’s what really matters.

The song ended, I took a bow, and I started towards my table. The girl’s mom was walking past me to the bar, and she highfived me enthusiastically. I walked right past her and sat down next to the girl. Her name is Devon.

At this point, I’m basically high on attention. It was the exact same feeling I would get after recording an episode of the Limited Resources podcast. Seriously, at three in the morning after recording a 5-hour set review show I would be completely wired and unable to sleep. That’s how I felt as I started talking to Devon.

Our conversation was fairly typical. She complimented my performance, we talked about how the cruise is going, where we’re from, who we’re with, stuff like that. Her mom came back and also congratulated me. (I never remembered her name.) They each asked me if I was going to do another song, and I told them the truth – I didn’t really have another song. They encouraged me to find something. The conversation naturally came to a close, I said it was nice to meet them and I hoped to see them around, and I went to the bar to get another drink.

I ordered my drink (a mojito this time), and the bartender complimented me. As he went to make the drink, a guy at the other end of the bar flagged him over and said “I’m buying Jon’s drink.” Once I got my drink, I thanked the man and he told me I should do another song. Then I returned to my table with the three guys, each of which told me I should do another song.

I should have let the first performance sit. I dropped the mic (figuratively) and I knew I shouldn’t pick it up again. Not tonight.

…but I couldn’t help it. Everybody was telling me to go again. This high wouldn’t last forever, I needed more! I hated myself as I walked back to the books to look for another song. I knew where this was going.

Their selection sucked. Not a single Beastie Boys song. (I can kind of do Ch-Check It Out.) No Bloodhound Gang. (Anybody can do The Bad Touch enough to be entertaining.) No Barenaked Ladies. (I’m not even sure I can do One Week.) The only other Eminem song they had was Lose Yourself, and I wasn’t about to try that. I actually walked away from the books at this point…but the pressure continued. People continued to tell me to keep looking. I thought of a song, one I knew they had before I even looked. One I knew I shouldn’t do…

Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy. At least Devon and her mom had left by now.

“Please welcome back to the stage, Jon!” Oh how excited they were. The fools.

I tried to make another age joke. I had my phone in my hand, and I said “One second, I’m just sending a twitter.”

The MC asks, “…what are you doing?”

“I’m….nevermind.” Shit. Fuck me. Idiot. “Anyway…I know I said I was from Seattle earlier, but I grew up in Montana. That’s the part of me this song comes from.”

“Ok Jon, good luck.”

It went…ok. The song has a little too much actual singing to it. There’s also a part in the middle that I can’t remember, and I screwed up the pace – just like the last time I attempted this song, just like I knew I would this time. (I swear I heard somebody in the audience shout in frustration “come on!”) I tried to salvage it with some Gangam Style cowboy riding, but it wasn’t enough. I did get the audience to sing “save a horse, ride a cowboy” with me, which helped.

Sure, they clapped, but we all knew. I ruined the moment. I flew too close to the sun. I had a thing, and I ruined it. I Caddyshack 2ed it. I was normal once again.

That said, the high was still in my system. It lingered. I regrouped in my room and then rode the high down to Jesters night club. And who should I find there, but Rob and Corina! Our friends from New York. The three guys from Karaoke were also there. Friends! And Jessica was there. Mysterious enemies!

Jessica saw me and immediately turned her back to me and started talking into a female friend’s ear. This put the friend’s face in my direction, and she was clearly looking at me. Jessica finished talking and continued to deliberately ignore me.

You know what? Fuck this adolescent shit. I rode my high right on over to her, smiled, and said “hey!” She nervously responded in kind. I pressed on. “So…what’s your deal?”

“Umm, it’s complicated.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah…I’m kind of seeing somebody.” Huh…I knew I’d have to try to unpack that later.

“Oh. Ok.” I lingered, like a bellhop waiting for a tip. She gave me nothing, so I moved on.

Even that interaction didn’t kill my high. Alcohol helped. I had a great time dancing with the three guys and Rob and Corina. High energy, lots of sweat, lots of water. Good times.

Rob and Corina and I took a break and started chatting at a table. I filled them in a little on my situation. Somewhat recently out of a long relationship, more recently out of a shorter relationship, that girl over there in the black dress hates me, dancing is fun. Rob encouraged me to dance with Corina, and she pulled me out to the dance floor. We danced, and it was great. It was that kind of dancing where you’re touching the other person. The kind that I have no idea how to actually initiate. (I feel so creepy trying.) Rob eventually joined us, and dancing continued with them and the three guys from karaoke. I was so grateful to have people around that liked me.

Eventually the group broke up and I started heading back to my room. I thought this was where my night would end, but I was wrong! On my way to my room, I took a brief detour to this little balcony by the elevators that overlooks THE PROMENADE. I noticed this group of teens (the ambiguous 17-20 group) looking up at me from the all-night cafe, so I waved at them. They waved back. An invitation! I said “I’ll be right there!” and left the balcony. I’ll be honest, I was still a little drunk, and a little attention high.

I was shocked by how friendly this group was, especially after my previous experience with that age group. They were very easy going and curious about me. The girls were cute, but certainly not an age group I was going to pursue. I wasn’t there long, maybe 10 minutes. I asked them about Facebook (they don’t use it) and complained about my empty age bracket. Then I said “I have to go to bed…but before I do, want to hear a joke?” They were very excited, and I launched into the awesome Napoleon joke I’ve solidly stolen from Paul Barclay’s English cousin. They ate it right up. I left feeling like a mysterious hero of the night.

Back in my room, trying to fall asleep, my brain began to unravel Jessica’s statement. Do I feel better knowing that she’s seeing somebody, and that’s why she’s acting weird? No, that’s not right, that still doesn’t explain her behavior. Was she lying? It’s one thing to be uninterested or unavailable, but this blatant ignoring is something else. I don’t even like her, it’s not like I want to be with her…so why do I feel like such a bad person? Why do I feel like a weirdo creeper, and what did I do so wrong?

Still, there were good interactions today, with friends that were unlikely to disown me.

With mixed feelings, I fell asleep.

UP NEXT: The casino opens…somehow with the ship still in port!

The Cruise – Day Two

My room was on the inside of the ship. With no window, it’s impossible to tell what time of day it is when you wake up. I probably woke up around 9am, but it felt so good to just lay in bed. I told myself I was on vacation, and didn’t make it out of my half-awake haze until around 11am.

I made my way up to deck 11 for lunch. I had no idea what I would see when I stepped off the elevator. Were we still in San Juan?

We were. So much for playing poker today. That was my plan, but the casino can’t open in port. As much as I liked to joke around with my parents about how I could do whatever I wanted under maritime law, we weren’t yet at sea.

My parents had told me to look for them at the pool bar, and that’s exactly where I found them. They were talking to our friends from the hotel in San Juan, Rob and Corina. I got to know them a little better. They’re from New York. She has three kids that he has completely taken as his own. They’re madly in love. I also found out that the ship was delayed until later that evening, and people were allowed to go on shore. I was enjoying having a place to settle, so I chose to stay on the boat, as did my parents. They also gave us $250 credit to our room, which made the drinks easier to buy.

Only one of the two pool bars were open, and it was crowded. I guess they didn’t expect so many people to stay on the ship, but it seemed like people were burnt out on San Juan and the boarding process. This was another moment where I felt incredibly uncomfortable, once again surrounded by grumpy white people unhappy with their cruise. “I don’t understand why they don’t open this bar.” You’re right, you don’t understand. Why are you acting like you do? Later that night I’ll find myself in a much more uncomfortable version of that conversation, so hold tight.

Muster was at 5:45pm. It’s a mandetory safety drill for all passengers. Dinner was scheduled for 6:00, so it was just known that everybody would be late. This scheduled lateness bugged me, but whatever. Muster just meant standing on the deck next to a life boat and listening to the safety talk. Our group also had two sign language translators. I gathered that one was english, and one was spanish, based on when they would sign. All announcements and instructions on the ship had to be given in english and spanish.

Uhg, the announcements. The ship had a built in speaker system that would blare some incomprehensible announcement about three times a day. Each time they would drone on and on about all the activities, but you couldn’t understand it even if you cared. Then, when you think it’s finally done, they start doing it all in spanish. It just seemed like a terrible user experience, especially since important cruise-delaying announcements were also given through this system.

Dinner time! I get all fancy in a sparkly button-up shirt that Brandon Bozzi gave me, and a nice pair of dockers that I had never worn. I shaved, and I even tucked the shirt in. Oh yeah, I looked sharp.

Usually on a cruise you eat dinner with strangers who will become your friends over the the week. We were seated with a family of three – Tammy the mom, Al the dad, and Ally the daughter. Yeah, Al + Tammy = Ally. I was trying to be in super easy going mode for the cruise, so I found this clever.

Al was retired, and used to be in investment something. Tammy was still working in finance. They struck me as very well off, and were really nice. They live outside of Denver, I think in that town that Zaiem Beg comes from. Ally was 17 and seemed pretty cool. She was very comfortable with the adults (which is saying something with my parents) and was a natural part of the conversation. I was impressed. I asked her if her generation uses Facebook, and she said no, they mostly use Twitter and Instragram. Kids these days. Nobody was noticeably racist.

Unless “oriental” isn’t a term we can use? I can’t tell. My dad told them that we ate at “the oriental place” in our hotel in San Juan, and it made me uncomfortable. But when I think about it, it seems like an ok term, so I’m probably just being weird.

At one point a waiter asked me if I wanted something to drink. It was too late for me to want a pi~n~a colada. And too fancy for me to want a mojito. My brain kind of froze…and then I blurted out “I’ll have a white Russian.” I don’t know if it’s what I actually wanted, or if it was the only other drink I could think of, but I liked my choice.

After dinner I split off from my parents and decided to walk around and find adventure. I was strangely successful the night before, and felt pretty sharp in my sparkly tucked-in shirt, so I had confidence on my side. At some point I Walked through the arcade, but they didn’t have Dance Dance Revolution. There was this place called “Optix” next to the arcade down a long zig-zag hallway…it was dark…my eyes adjusted…and suddenly I’m staring at a room full of 15-somethings. Oh god. I think I made eye contact with one of the guys. I put my hands up, backed into the hallway, then turned around and left. I may be desperate to find young people to hang out with, but I do NOT want to be that guy.

Eventually I found my way into Jesters night club. On my way in I noticed two girls sitting at a table outside. The night club was empty (it was early), but I worked up the courage to talk to the two girls. They seemed to just be messing around on their phones anyway – perhaps I could break their boredom?

I walked out of Jesters and right up to their table, white Russian in hand. “Hi. You guys look like you’re part of the missing age gap on this ship.”

“Oh my god, I know.” This was said by the blonde girl, Bella, with an eye roll. We initiated basic conversation. (I feel like an alien when I say that.) They were sitting at that table because it was supposedly a “wifi hotspot”, but weren’t having luck. The ship seemed empty, and we figured it was because the second wave of dinner was still going. Their names were Bella and Blake. It took a LOT of self restraint for me not to say “Blaaaaaaaaake,” Key and Peele style, but I figured she either got that a lot, or would have no idea what I was talking about.

“Mind if I sit?” They welcomed me, seeming almost relieved that something would break up the monotony of their day. Conversation continued. They’re from a small city outside of a larger city. I want to say Chicago, but that’s kind of where I started to think everybody was from. At some point one of them referred to something negatively as “that’s gay,” which I noticed as different than I’m used to. Later I mentioned that I would go out dancing in Seattle, and found that the gay clubs were the best places to dance, even as a straight guy. They reacted strangely, and later I wondered if it was homophobia, but I couldn’t really tell. Eventually they told me they were both 18.

Well shit. I mean, sure 18 is legal, but boy did I suddenly feel creepy. The entire cruise I felt like I had no idea how old any girl under the age of 30 was. I looked down at the drink in my hand and had a moment, lost in the murky white Russian. Do I leave, and keep walking around alone? No Jon…”do it”…that’s your motto! I decided to try honesty, though I was still worried that it would come off weird.

“Well, you guys can ditch me any time you want. I feel weird hanging out with a couple 18-year-olds, but I’m pretty bored.” I wanted to give them a clear out.

“Naw, you’re ok. We’ll help you find somebody your own age.” This was Bella again, the leader. Blake was her friend going along for the trip with Bella’s family, and it showed in their dynamics. Bella seemed to actually mean what she said, so I felt comfortable. It felt like we were all on the same page – the page where I’m not trying to sleep with them.

We started walking around the ship. We hung out at the 4-Asian bar for a little bit, watching old people dance. I called it the 4-Asian bar in my head because it had no obvious theme, but had this awesome band of four Asian people. They were great, and had a pretty wide range. Their drummer was a girl, and she also sang about half the songs – you don’t see that often. I spotted this cute red-head on the other side of the dance floor (my age), but we started walking again before I figure out a way to approach her.

Eventually we ran into Bella’s mom, standing in a fairly long line. I felt incredibly awkward meeting the mother of these two 18 year old girls I was following around, and I started to wonder if my white Russian tricked me. Before I could decide, the red-head joined her mom in line, who was also standing in the line right behind us. This could be my chance!

Then they all started talking about how unbelievable the cruise delay was. We’ve been delayed, again! The boat wasn’t expected to take off until early the next morning, and we would be missing our first stop, Bermuda. That’s when I realized that we were standing in the customer service line. Oh my god, the discomfort I felt. I am not that guy. I don’t talk to management and demand I be treated better, especially when I’m one of about two thousand people. These people were standing here for the sole purpose of complaining to the person who’s job it is to stand at the customer service desk. “I can’t believe your boat isn’t moving! This is unacceptable!” Like, what do you expect them to even say? I felt gross.

To solidify my discomfort, the red-head said “I don’t understand why they don’t just put us on another boat.” Oh, you don’t understand, do you? You can’t comprehend why Royal Caribbean doesn’t just send over a $500 million dollar boat they have laying around? Move all the passengers? Move all the supplies? Move the entire crew that actually live on this ship? Or maybe they have an entire cruise ship, staffed and supplied and ready to go, with nothing better to do this week? Never before has my attraction for a person faded so suddenly as it did for the red-head at that moment. “I know! They’ve got other boats. This is unacceptable.” That was Bella’s mom. Clearly I was outnumbered.

Largely stunned by this exchange, I kept following the girls after they said goodbye to Mom. We made our way to the adult pool on deck 11, where something seemed to be happening. It was empty, but there were large “Absolute 20” signs hanging around that weren’t there earlier in the day. There was a bartender setting up, and we asked him what was going on. “There’s going to be a big party at 11:30. With all the world’s best DJs. Tiesto, Guetta, they’re all here.”

All right, something to do! This sounded pretty cool. I also saw a good exit opportunity with the 18-year-olds. “Well I’m going to go change, maybe I’ll see you guys back here for the party.” It was about 10:30.

Before I left, I remembered the awkward exchange with Jessica the night before. I decided to try a different tactic. “Oh and hey, my room is 6743, feel free to give me a call if you guys are bored.” This way they can take it or leave it, and it’s not an invitation to my room or anything.

Surprisingly Bella responded with “Cool, we’re 6520.” I was not expecting that, and now felt a little weird that I knew their room number. Especially after meeting their mom. But hey, I took it as a sign that they liked me.

As I walked back to my room, two things dawned on me. One, I my room number is actually 6473. Oops. That’s probably for the best. Two, there’s no way Tiesto is on this ship. The bartender straight-up lied to us, and I nodded and said “cool!” What a sucker.

I also had no idea what kind of party this would be. I assumed it would be a pool party, since it was at the adult pool, so I put on my swim trunks and flip flops. I wasn’t super excited about being in a pool with a bunch of drunk adults, but I thought I’d play it safe and come dressed for it anyway. “Do it!”

I returned to the pool at 11:30. This time they verified my age to get through the door. One of the cruise people was talking to the crowed, and he introduced DJ Conrad. Oh, right, THAT famous DJ. He also introduced the cruise ship dancers that were there to get the party started. They were all standing on the raised edge of the pool, looking stylish. Once the music started, I realized I had severely misjudged the party. Nobody was going in the pool – it was just something to dance around. None of the civilians were dancing yet – it was just a lot of old people watching the dancers and an empty dance floor. I decided to go change into shorts and shoes that I could actually dance in, and then I would dance, even if it was by myself.

On my way out, I ran into Bella and Blake on their way in. “Hey! I’m going to go change my shoes. I can’t dance in these. Oh hey, you like my toenails?”

“…why are your toenails blue?” asked Bella, rhetorically and with some disgust.

“…because I like blue? I…wanted to look pretty.” I turned to Blake for help. I felt like I vibed better with Blake. Sidekick was more my style. “She doesn’t like blue, huh? Do you like blue?”

“No.” She looked away uncomfortably.

Well, that was suddenly awkward. Not only was I the guy who showed up with clearly the wrong clothes, but now I’m the weirdo with the painted toenails.

Whatever, I don’t need them. I just need DJ Conrad! Within a few minutes I was back at the party in shorts and dancing shoes. The dance floor was…still unfortunately empty. I soldiered on! I pushed my way through the old people ring, and started dancing. A couple of the dancers looked at me and smiled, but their looks didn’t linger and none of them engaged. Great, thanks guys, I was hoping you wouldn’t leave me hanging. The pool carved the dance floor into kind of a U shape, and I danced my way around the U. Once I came out the other end it was time for a drink.

I got a double vodka cranberry. I wasn’t ready to give up on this night, but I needed some help. I was going to drink my drink on the sideline while I built up some more courage. As I made my way back to the dance floor, I ran into Jessica. Literally – she was getting a drink from this other thing, and turned around and ran right into me as I was coming up to say hi. Sweet! A friend! I was so happy to see her, just to have somebody to either talk to or dance with, especially after that awkward moment with the 18-year-olds.

“Hey!” I said.

“Oh, hey! One second!” she responded, enthusiastically. She turned around and went to a group of young 20-somethings that had started dancing when I went to get a drink. Cool, a group to hang out with! I knew they must exist somewhere on the boat. My people! Jessica can be my in, and then I’ll have people to chill with on the cruise. Man, this is all going way better than expected…

…my drink is almost gone…

…why hasn’t Jessica come back yet?

…well this is awkward.

She never came back. What kind of person says “one second!” and just straight-up doesn’t come back? I doubt she forgot. I guess I can start dancing and see if she responds? Maybe she was waiting for me to join them?

I started dancing again. By this point there were more people dancing, but halfheartedly on the edge. The group Jessica was in was the only group really getting into it. I danced near enough to the group to get Jessica’s attention, and she was deliberately NOT giving me any. Wow. Just totally cold. I was kind of in shock.

Whatever, I don’t need her to have a good time! Though I couldn’t exactly dance my way into the circle of the only people my age I had seen on the entire ship, not with her stonewalling me so hard. I would feel too awkward shoving my way into a group where I was clearly not welcome.

So, I danced. At one point I started dancing with one of the dancers. We chatted, probably because he felt pity for me. His name is Oliver, and he’s been working on cruise ships for 14 years. He told me I should go to their show the next day, so I said I would. It was a friendly chat, but it ended. There was like a 3% chance this could turn into some backstage behind the scenes hangout, which would be a cool story.

I got another drink, then went back to dancing. There was this pretty girl (my age?) on the edge, next to a couple. I asked her to dance, and she looked at her friends and laughed. They said “go for it!” She laughed, smiled, and joined me on the dance floor. She was a fun dancer, and seemed to know what she was doing. She had a great smile and a pretty blue dress. After the song ended, I thanked her for the dance.

“You too! My husband doesn’t dance.” Oh, yep, sure enough a guy holding two drinks has joined her friends. We walked back over to them, and I thanked her again for the dance. We chatted very briefly, and it felt like time for another drink. This time I also got water.

I danced around the U, trying to get various people to dance with me. Some halfheartedly obliged. Some smiled. Some just stone rejected me. I encountered another solo guy I could relate to – trying to have fun dancing alone, and largely succeeding. We exchange knowing glances.

Bella and Blake were there. I danced up to them, and they were clearly uncomfortable. No engagement at all. No conversation. Just could, judgmental glances…

Time for another drink! I took one sip of the drink and realized that it was a mistake. I was not going to drink this drink, or I would have regrets. I carried it around for the rest of the night, but didn’t touch it again. I switched to water only.

I came upon a group of two girls (my age?), one of which had a leg brace on. “Dance?” I danced at them, hoping that would get my message across. They laughed, and started to explain the leg brace when two guys came up next to them.

“Come here often?” one of them said. “These are our husbands.” Oh, cool, no worries. The first group of husbands were pretty friendly to me, but these guys were stone cold. They were giving me the evil eye while also refusing to ever look at me. It was incredibly uncomfortable. I ran into them a couple more times through the evening, and the girls always gave me encouragement while the guys continued their indirect glaring. This continued for the rest of the cruise.

I wish there was a climactic moment that ended this evening, but there wasn’t. I tried to help other people have a good time. Bella and Blake continued to be completely unenthused with me. Jessica continued to completely and blatantly ignore me. Girls with husbands encouraged me. Other guy danced alone. Girls that spoke Spanish smiled at me and halfheartedly danced with me. A blond girl and her friend refused my dancing every time I went by. Old people continued to line the edge and watch. I noticed that my phone had internet, so I drunk emailed Marshall Sutcliffe. DJ Conrad pumped out the beats. The boat sat in San Juan.

And that was the night. I went back to my room, drunk and glad that I switched to water. Honestly, I was bummed. I put on my happy dancing mask and I chose “do it” more often then not, yet the people that I thought liked me turned totally cold. I had less friends than the day before.

I went to bed wondering, am I actually THAT bad at dancing? Am I too weird? Am I a creep? What’s wrong with me?

UP NEXT: Karaoke redemption!