Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ship of Fools, Part 4: Ugly Americans & The Ladder of Hope

Well, first off, thanks to all of you who offered kind words of solace on my last post. It's difficult to say which was the most touching, but Deb's (that's LuMu to her close friends) was especially thoughtful. And of course jiif's wins hands down for being the most oddly, impenetrably, cryptically gnomic.

But I thank you all.
Unless you're willing to spend like thousand of dollars extra on your cruise, you will end up with a basic "stateroom", which means an inside (i.e., no window) one-room accommodation that's claustrophobically small1. The bed essentially takes up the whole room and it looks like this:
Ian and me in our "stateroom". Teh 'Bride took this pic from the corridor, next to the bathroom. I'm wearing my race shirt from the 3B 5-miler, like you fucking CARE!1!
The bathroom is even smaller, but much improved since the last time we cruised. The toilets are actual porcelain now, not metal; and although they still use mostly suction to whisk away your ... um ... leavings ... they are nowhere near as loud as they used to be. We spent hours preparing Ian for how scary the toilets would be2.

All for nothing, as it turns out. 

And you might be asking, Well, where did Ian sleep? as though it's any of your business, which it's not. But well okay, here:
Ian's freaking bed came out of the ceiling!
And Ian loved sitting up there in his bed because that ladder is of the hook-n-ladder variety and he could unhook it from the foot of his bed and pull it up onto the bed and then lower it again which he did with such dogged repetitiveness that I began to think we were going to have to have him tested for some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

And on about Day Two, these ladder retractions and lowerings were accompanied by the announcement: "I am now lowering The Ladder of Hope" or "I am now raising the Ladder of Hope" until I was thisclose to saying I am now braining my only child with the Ladder of Hope to get him to shut teh eff up about the Ladder of Hope. And we don't know why he named it the Ladder of Hope, but his obsessive playing with — and chattering about — it sometimes turned our lower bunk into Teh Bed of Despair3.
Why Ugly Americans — Of Whom You See PLENTY On Cruises — Suck 
Try as you might, on a cruise, you simply cannot escape encounters with Ugly Americans. And by "ugly", I don't mean fat or physically deformed, because we — Teh 'Bride and I — like those Ugly Americans. Because one of the first things we did after embarking was go to the pool deck and sit and veg and Teh 'Bride looked around at all the portly, flabby, tattooed women in two piece and even thong bathing suits and all the equally fat and be-tattooed men and she turned to me, laughing, and said, "I feel very thin." Which she actually is. 
What she meant to say is, next to these foax? She really had her Olive Oyl going on.
Teh 'Bride, Happy To See Her Fellow Cruisers in Bathing Suits
But by Ugly Americans, I mean nasty, mean-spirited, demanding, Assholish, Douchebag Americans, who, even when they're having their every whim catered to, are still not satisfied. And nowhere do you have your whims catered to more than on a cruise4

Teh 'Bride and I have kinda learned how to spot these people and avoid interacting with them, but you still can't help occasionally witnessing their tantrums and carryings-on and the nasty contumely with which they treat their inferiors, which is basically everybody, but mostly the poor crew/staff of the ship, who simply have to stand there and take it from these fuckwads.

On this past cruise, e.g., Teh 'Bride was in line at the Guest Services Desk while this woman went on and on trying to change the time of her dinner seating from late to early. Now, you are asked when you sign up for a cruise which seating you want and this woman admitted that she'd asked for the late seating. But now she — on a mere whim — had decided that 8:30 p.m. was too late and she wanted to switch. The only problem was the cruise was fully booked and times had been assigned and the woman behind the Guest Services Desk explained that there was just nowhere to put anyone else in the earlier seating because both seating were fully booked.

But this was not good enough for the asshole woman who had knowingly signed up for the later seating. Because, hearing that the only way she could be assured of having her whim met was if it were for a medical reason, she tried to argue that it was for such a reason and went on and on in this manner, getting outraged that she was being asked to provide evidence for this.

And the above, which really just pisses me off, is just a minor example of Ugly Americans At Their Worst. But the killer thing, for me, was ... there is food everywhere on a cruise ship, available at every hour of the day or night, and if you're really fat and lazy, there is even room service and you can have food brought to your cabin. So you can have dinner, essentially, any time you want.

And yet there are women like this douchebag woman taking up valuable time at the Guest Services desk — time that would be better spent dealing with cruisers with real problems, like needing crazy glue to glue the heel of their left sandal back together because it fell apart and was all floppy and made walking annoying and potentially dangerous ... which is why Teh 'Bride and I were in line because that seemingly hypothetical broken left sandal?

Was ... MINE!1!



But they did have duct tape and we were able to jerry-rig5 some doubled up duct tape between the layers of the heel so that the tape didn't show but held the heel together pretty well.

And while we were standing in line, this older — I'd estimate mid-60s — woman touched my arm and asked, "How tall are you?" And I gave my standard long-winded answer, which I use when Teh 'Bride is there because it's her fault I have to do this, which answer is:

"That depends on who you ask. I'm six-four, but that's not good enough for her [pointing at Teh 'B., here], because she always lies and says I'm six-five, which I am not. And so I compromise by telling people I'm six-four-and-a-quarter because that is exactly what they say I am every year at my physical and that is exactly how tall I am."

"Well, I just love tall men" [eye flutter] "because my husband, who passed a few years ago, was six-five and I think you're taller than he was" [and at this point it's becoming obvious that the nice older lady was a bit tipsy] "and [laying another hand on my arm, here] you [addressing Teh 'Bride, here] better be careful because I may steal him from you, tee-hee!"

And Teh 'Bride is making her I'm-trying-to-look-pleasant-here face, which is comprised of a fake smile coupled with snake eyes that are clearly saying, UNHAND MY HUSBAND, you BITCH, lest I claw your eyes out!1!

And I mention this incident only because it shows that one woman's Ugly American is another man's Nice American. Because I'm sure Teh 'Bride thought this lady was an Ugly American, but to me, she was great and had good taste in men and was, in fact, An American Hero, of sorts.

[bitterly] But where's her parade?

And for the rest of the cruise, any time I wanted to get under Teh 'Bride's skin? I'd just start singing:

I'm just a gigoloooooh
And everywhere I gooooooh ... etc.

Because I'm a bit of an Ugly American myself. 
1 This should not present a problem unless you're one of those pathetic fucking luuuzers who'd spend more time than he absolutely had to in his "stateroom", and the only time you have to be in the stateroom is night-night time, to sleep. At all other times, there's plenty to do outside your cabin. 

But if you are one of those luuuuzers, just stop reading my blog right now and don't come back.

Wait, no don't. I can use every reader I can get. COME BACK, PATHETIC LUUUUZER!1!

2 Telling him, e.g., not to flush while sitting on it because it might rip both his wiener and his butt off. We had him on the verge of trying to hold it all in for 5 daze. Then we get there, and immediately flush the toilet for him and ... it was as anticlimactic as a newlywed's wedding night. "O, um, yeah, baby, that was greaaaaaaat. Man O man am I ever looking forward to 50, 60 years of that. No, that is not sarcasm you're hearing in my voice! But, um, we can throw away all those egg-timers we got as wedding gifts because I like a one-minute egg and now I've got an even better way of knowing when one minute is over ... Yeah, that time I was being sarcastic."

3 That's what she said!

4 Except maybe in my erotic dreams, the less said about which the better.

5 And it's at times like this that I really miss tfh because she would unfailingly leave a pedantic comment here pointing out that it's jury-rig not jerry-rig and just exactly which Ivy did I attend because they'll be wanting that diploma back ... or *shudder* did I go to a STATE university [clutching her pearls]My smelling salts and laudanum, quickly!1!

I miss joyRuN, too, and sometimes she corrects me and talks down to me, too, but not on issues of language because SHE BARE-RY SPEAK IN-GRISH!!1!

Hahahahaha! I'm such a DICK!1!


  1. You are so right about us Ugly Americans. If Keef and his ilk cruised they'd likely be WAY kinder to the crew and staff. But what fun would THAT be?

    And teh 'Bride should definitely have thrown that dirty old cougar overboard. If she was in her 80's or 90's then maybe she could get away with such behavior, but a mid-60's woman cannot really use her "advanced age" as an "OhPardonMe,I'm-Clearly-Addled-And-Decrepit-And-Can't-Be-Held-Responsible-For-Sluttily-Lusting-For-This-Freaksihly-Tall-Man's-N*ts@ck" excuse. Dirty, diseased cougar...

  2. If I ever go on a cruise, they're gonna have to be doing head counts every night. That broad in front of you (and she is a broad, at best) complaining about the seating hour? Overboard. No question. I'd be kind to the staff. They're working crazy hours for the cube root of diddley squat. It's the other passengers I'd be giving a hard time, especially the ugly Americans.

    And the proper response when an ugly american asks you how tall you are, you say, 1.93675 metres. Only you can spell it meters if you want. I hope you washed that arm soon after she touched it; you never know what she had.

  3. So are you saying that one of The Golden Girls hit on you on a cruise? Shocking. That's what those old broads do - at least that's what I plan to do when I'm in my 60s. Hit on cute young, tall boys on cruise ships. Beats sitting around in a @#$%$^ nursing home listening to a bunch of old birds squawking about bridge and gin rummy.

    And I thought it was jerry rig. But then I looked it up and found a few alternatives I like even better: "Jimmy rig" is the more intense version of jury rig, a temporary fix that is not as well done and more likely to fail. Or ... to "MacGyver" something is to rig up something in a hurry to make an item work, from the U.S. television show of the same name and its title character, who would often use such homemade rigs.

  4. If I beat up every young thang that hit on my husband I would have to quit my job, as there would not be enough hours in the day.

    Tell Teh bride that next time she should stand behind you and give them the smug oh-hells-yeah-bitch-I-am-hittin'-that!-Don't-be-hatin' look and requisite head bob.

    Do tell her, though, that she should be prepared to hand you her purse and take off her earrings, because some of those old lushes can be pretty scrappy.

    And saggy, tattooed, bloated, entitlement? Not an exclusively Ugly American trait. Although I will give you that we have more than our fair share. I keep voting for tougher emigration laws to send them to nicer countries that are more asshole deficient, but alas....

  5. I witnessed a horrible display of Ugly American-ism on a high school trip to France in 1992. One of the chaperones of the other tour group we were sharing a bus with called our French tour guide a "stupid French frog" (among other insults) to her face, then screamed "Stupide! Stupide!" at her as she fought to retain her composure. All of this was because our tour bus had to make an unexpected detour and WE. WERE. NOT. STICKING. TO. THE. ITINERARY.

    I was completely horrified and embarrassed and he wasn't even my group's chaperone. I was only 18 and very shy at the time; if that had happened in front of me now...

    * cracks knuckles *

    Suffice to say I would probably tear that guy a new asshole.

    That incident made me determined NEVER to act like a Ugly American abroad or at home. I embrace the unexpected detour! That's when some of the best things happen! Like the time all of the Aer Lingus pilots went on strike while I was in Ireland and I had to take a ferry from Dublin to Wales and then hop a train across the English countryside to London...throw in a night drinking hand-pulled bitter English ales in a little pub/hotel...and a real live "trainspotter" who wrote down on a cocktail napkin all of the trains I needed to take to arrive at Heathrow the next day...that's the stuff that makes a good story, not "I went to the airport, got on the plane, and flew home."