Paul D. Dute
Cruise Ship Imagistics © 2018
I took my first cruise back in 1990. It was a sailing out of Port Miami on Carnival Cruise Lines. I was concerned over whether I would be bothered by motion sickness. So for this first cruise I had booked a 3 night 4 day cruise that would stop at Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas. I was attracted to the idea of cruising from many years watching Love Boat episodes on the TV. But because of my previous short water voyages, I was leery of getting seasick. Which explains why it was so long before I actually got myself aboard a cruise ship.
On this, my first cruise, I had taken along some Dramamine and took a pill before sailing. Then I had another pill later on in the evening while the MS Fantasy was out at sea. However, for the rest of the cruise I took no more pills, and was not at all seasick. The MS Fantasy was a 70,000 ton ship, and it was the largest cruise ship for its day. And the cruise was smooth.
I found that I liked, no make that, LOVED cruising. There was relaxation during the day, and then multiple opportunities for entertainment all through the evening. There were Jazz clubs, Comedy clubs, Pop Clubs, Live Action Showrooms, and also a couple of cozy Piano bars.
My first cruise was only 4 days long, but I returned back to shore so incredibly relaxed! It was so enjoyable that I resolved to take another, longer cruise as soon as I could afford it.
I was to take a second cruise in 1992. This cruise was on the maiden voyage of Princess Line MS Regal Princess. This was a one week cruise to the western Caribbean. But this time there was a period of very rough seas on the cruise from Cozumel back towards Fort Lauderdale. Yet, even so I was not sick! Not once!
It was after my 1992 cruise that I decided that I wanted take more and more cruises. I liked the lifestyle on a cruise ship. There were plenty of entertainment venues in the evenings. And during the days there was plenty of time to read, as well as to take in seminars and talks about any number of interesting topics.
On my conventional vacations there was often a tight schedule that had to be maintained to make various connections, and various reservations. When going to any of the large theme parks in Florida there was a lot of walking, and traveling between parks and attractions.
On a cruise ship that is all turned around and upside down. Another way to look at things? A cruise ship is like a skyscraper turned on its side and floating on the sea. A sailing skyscraper that can take one to all of the islands and tropical regions. On most ships the dining rooms are in the aft of the ship, while the main showroom is in the bows. This is done as it causes the diners to traverse the entire midship area of the ship on their way to the main showroom. Thereby passing all of the shops and bars onboard.
This means that on the average ship about the longest distance that one has to traverse is perhaps 1,000 feet either fore or aft, and perhaps a deck or two up or down. That eliminates almost all of the walking that one is forced to do when going to one of the theme parks. It eliminates all of that shoe leather loss! It is a great time saver as well, giving one much more relaxation time while on a cruise.
There was one little change from previous cruise routines. On Carnival for breakfast and lunch, meals there was no longer individual seating. (I must admit, that was always very extravagant, and not at all efficient use of the dining staff, so I really do not blame the cruise lines for making this policy adjustment.) It did mean that I was to be thrust into much more contact with the other passengers. But it was also more exciting for me to interact with other interesting people while onboard the ship.
It was this experience with interaction with other people that would lead me eventually to consider a change of my image.
Should I Change my Image?
There is a common factor to all of my cruises up to Thanksgiving of 2012. On each of my previous cruises I had boarded and behaved as myself. I am shy, introverted, and socially awkward. To be blunt, I am quite boring. I do not like to join in on things, and I stay in the background, and am mostly unnoticed. In fact, I find that performing normally while in a social setting to be very stressful. It is the most likely time that I will stutter and stammer. This is particularly true in a setting that I am not familiar with. It doesn’t help the situation to know that when boarding a cruise I know ahead of time that there will be a couple thousand strangers aboard. People that I know nothing about, and have never seen. The only helpful thing in these particular cruises, was that in taking a series of cruises on the MS Carnival Pride I had come to know some of the crew.
As I began to think about taking yet another Carnival cruise for 2012, I also began to think that perhaps I ought not travel as myself! No, perhaps I ought to be somebody else. I would keep my name since using a alias is difficult nowadays. So, I would still use my own identity. But, perhaps I ought to travel with a whole new personality, a new personae as it were! My thoughts immediately flashed to one of my favorite books! : “The Image Men” by J.B. Priestley.
In this novel, Priestley created the characters of Professors Tuby and Saltana. They are impoverished academics. Owen Tuby is a professor of classic literature and Cosmo Saltana is a professor of philosophy. They had known each other over several decades. Tuby teaching at colleges all over Asia. While Saltana was a professor traveling between universities in South America. From time to time they would meet at a variety of educational conferences to renew their friendship.
But now in 1968 they have both returned to London and are both staying at the Robinsons Hotel, Bayswater, London. They run into each other in a sitting room and try to decide what to do with themselves. In the sitting room is a mature lady, well-dressed, seemingly prosperous, reading a file of what clearly seems to be legal papers. The lady bursts into tears and is called away by a page to answer a call, leaving her papers behind.
Doctor Tuby decides to glance at the papers to perhaps understand the lady’s distress. He discovers that it is indeed legal papers purporting to be about something called the “Drake Sociological Foundation”. It is addressed to a Mrs. Elfreda Drake. Tuby quickly returns to his seat and relates the information to Professor Saltana.
Doctor Tuby and Professor Saltana decide to present themselves to Mrs. Drake as sociologists, and on the spot they invent a new sociological discipline “Social Imagistics”. Dealing with the Selection, Creation, and Projection of useful images for public life. They persuade Mrs. Drake to come in together with them and form the “Institute of Social Imagistics” and to then try to attach this new institute to a new university even then being built on top of an older existing college.
Mrs. Drake agrees to join with them because as she says: “my late husband heard about sociology before he died and thought it was a good idea. That is why he left me a million dollars, so that I could do something “sociologically” in his memory. “
This novel is an account of the events that unfold as Tuby and Saltana try to make this Institute come to life with the assistance of Elfreda Drake.
With the memory of this novel coursing through my mind, I then and there decided to create a new personae for myself, a new image for me to project on my next vacation. I will become “the political writer aboard the cruise ship”. The writer who is a workaholic, even on board a cruise ship to the Bahamas, he can’t stop writing. Yes, that sounds like it could work!
Before I could get to work and design the image that I wanted to “wear” on the cruise, I got distracted at the end of October with the approach of hurricane Sandy. It was being called “the storm of the century” due to its immense size, and the fact that it was aimed right at the New Jersey coast on one side, and New York City on the other! It was quite possible that it could go right over my head at Harding Woods. It was worrisome for me to watch on the Doppler radar, that huge storm that just kept coming towards New Jersey. For a week I could think of nothing else. But then at the height of the hurricane the power went out as the hurricane track was 10 miles to the north of me. After 12 hours, the power came back on, and things slowly came back to normal.
The Image 1.0
By November 1st, my cruise was 28 days away, and I could begin to think about my “image”. As related, I decided to be a political writer. I choose this because the election was coming up on the 6th. The election would still be on everyone’s mind as I would board the ship.
I decided that I would use my Dragon Speech© recognition software to dictate into my journal. I would sit in the lounge and dictate into my headset with the boom microphone connected to my laptop. I had hoped that it would attract attention, and that would prompt people to ask me what I was doing. I would say that I was writing “Blurbs”. When pressed, I would say that my blurbs were used by political speechwriters to add that certain “homey” touch to the formal speeches and statements.
I would claim that my “blurbs” were in wide circulation in the political world and were used as the basis underlying political messages to the electorate. I would have to sure that I never mentioned any particular candidate. I would also have to claim to be covered by a strict NDA, and to refuse to take credit for any particular speech or statement.
I would even go so far as to create a template (looking like an official “type” of form) that would be displayed on my laptop screen while I was dictating. However, I would have to be careful of this template, and not let anyone get too close a look at it.
During the course of my 2012 cruise my projection of this image was hit and miss. While a couple of people were interested in what I was doing, since voice recognition was a relatively new thing for the public at large.
But there was no real stir amongst the passengers. Also I had not really considered what to say when I would be asked just exactly who I was writing for. Just to claim an NDA was not satisfactory. It had no “punchline”, no real “feeling”, no empathy there. There was needed something more, but I could not put my finger on exactly what I needed to do for the image. I had not done enough homework!
I should have really given it more thought when I was getting ready to go. I really ought to have written an outline or something! I KNOW!, I KNOW!, I should have written up an “image analysis”. Just as Doctor Tuby or Professor Saltana would have done in the novel by Preistley. In the meantime, I had a couple of days to think about the matter before we reached Freeport on Friday.
I need a course correction to Image 1.0
I decided to deal with the inevitable question of “just who are you writing these blurbs for?”. I tried to imagine just how the question would arise:
Query: “Who were you writing this stuff for?”
Reply: “I am covered by an NDA, I cannot tell you”
Query: “come on, you can tell me! I won’t say anything!”
Reply: “Well, I really can’t say anything about it!……But let’s just say that my clients were not unhappy about the elections results earlier this month! (small sly smirk, break eye contact and look downwards)” Yes, I think that might be a little “sexy”. But I shall have to make sure that I have it memorized before Friday!
I wanted to have this memorized before the Captain’s Frequent Cruisers Party immediately following the noon departure from Freeport. It is a frequently rowdy party. As when the captain is the host, complimentary double-pour cocktails are a’flowing for the afternoon! It would be a good place to surface my image update. However it was to turn out to be a slightly chaotic afternoon. And the evening that followed was also not conducive to giving a performance.
The party had been going for a couple of hours. I was becoming quite tipsy, loosening my grip and my determination to stay in character. That afternoon after, say 3pm or so, became quite hazy and uncertain in my memory. It was not until later on in the day, when I found myself waking in an strange cabin, to find a tableau of 3 other naked people draped on the beds of the cabin. I was the first to stagger awake. I found my clothes on the floor, hurriedly got dressed and made my way back to my own cabin. I had the presence of mind to note that I had left cabin #1221, but I’ve no idea whose cabin that was. And while not sure what had happened there, I thought that I could guess. It had been quite a party after all!
OK, I would just have to be a little shy for the rest of the cruise. I never did learn any details about that afternoon. So I could never determine if I had revealed my imposturing inadvertently or not.
For that reason, I did not think that my “Image” was all that successful when reviewing the matter after the end of the cruise. But it was just my first try! Next time I would simply have to do a better job of preparation, and avoid the parties, or at least cut down on the drinking!
However, for both 2014 and for 2015 another cruise was not in my vacation plans. In 2014 I would take a multi-day visit to Walt Disney World. For this I would have to fly down to Florida and stay in the resort. It would be inconvenient to have a new Image, a new Identity almost.
As for 2015, I would again take a multi-day visit, this time to Universal Orlando, to see the new Diagon Alley in the Universal Studios. And once again this would have to be done by flying down to Florida and staying at the new Cabana Bay Beach resort at Universal. Again, trying to deploy a different image and cope with security in the airports would be inconvenient, to say the least. So there would be no image work to be done for those two vacations.
And yet, I would be taking a cruise after these two vacations were done and journaled. So a new revised Image would be needed for that next cruise of 2016!
The Image 2.0
I had begun the planning for my 2016 cruise right after I had returned from Universal Orlando at the end of 2015. Yes, I did take a break in my planning to enjoy the xmas and New Years Holidays. But it was early on in 2016 when I had decided to cruise for the week after Thanksgiving 2016. I would book the cruise for Sunday 11/27/2016 through Sunday 12/4/2016. I had also settled on once again cruising on the MS Carnival Pride cruise ship sailing out of Baltimore.
My two vacations staying for a multiple days at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando resorts actually made for a very tiring set of vacations. Lots of walking, and lots of traveling between parks. It was time for me to once again take a cruise and be able to have a full week of total relaxation!
I had the cruise booked by June 2016. Then I began to plan the shore excursions that I would take on this upcoming cruise. This is not a task to be taken lightly. The shore excursions selected can be very important to the enjoyment of the cruise itself. The cruise line offers a full set of options on the excursions. One can be active physically with skiing and parasailing, or can focus on history, or enjoy scheduled, preplanned parties. With all of this planning disposed of, it was time for consideration of my new image.
How does this strike you?
My projection of the “political blurb writer” was somewhat less than a smashing success when I attempted it back in 2012. While a couple of people on the cruise were interested when I would be wearing my headset and dictating, they stopped and did ask me about my behavior. But I had wanted “More!”.
I considered the thought that “political” writing just did not have any “bite” with people. There is so much cynicism with politics nowadays. Perhaps the thought of someone actually writing the tripe that is issued as political speak, seems off putting. Perhaps……..
On the other hand, I had gotten the idea of changing my image from a J.B. Preistley novel. Perhaps I could be a novel writer? I thought that I had something there. It was a good idea, I finally decided. After all how attractive it would be for someone to think that they might be a character in an upcoming novel? Yes, Yes, I told myself, there is a germ of an image projection here. Keep it up Paul, I told myself.
As the year progressed the idea became more and more came clear to me. Accordingly, I decided that I ought to make an attempt at formalizing the “image” that I wanted, in the form of an Image Analysis.
The Image Analysis File
The client wishes an image that he will use aboard a cruise vacation. Unsatisfied with his current understated image, the client wants something that is more assertive, and more appealing to the audience available on the ship’s one week cruise. We propose that the client assume the Personae of:
The Cruise Ship Novelist
This image would most certainly appeal to other passengers on the ship because:
- People find the idea of a novelist appealing. The novelist attempts to capture real life and bring it into a more ideal prose form. The novelist is free to impose changes in reality that make a story more compelling, more poignant. People are well aware that a novel is not true life, but they will accept, and sometimes, love the alternative reality presented in novel form.
- People who take a cruise once, tend to take more cruises on a regular basis, as studies show. They also tend to be attracted to the temporary exciting lifestyle available on a cruise ship and will relate to a portrayal of events uniquely available on a ship. For this reason, the self same people would be attracted to the idea of a novel based on cruise ships, and would find the idea that they might become a “character” in a novel appealing!
- If the proposed Image Projection is well handled, then people aboard the cruise will talk to others about the prospect of a novel being written about the cruise that they are all taking. It could easily become talked about onboard, and will even be an article of their conversation after they return home and talk to their peers about the cruise! “Did you know there was a novelist aboard the ship?!” “He was writing a story about “…topic…” and you know what?…..”! “I’m going to be in the book, under another name of course”. Then these people will be on the lookout for ANY book that seems to involve a cruise, and they will brag that they are actually “….appealing character in book….”.
Details in the Projection of Image.
- Client will need to practice ahead of taking the cruise. He must master the image of a bookish, introverted author. It is important to not OVERACT this image. An understated character will be more interesting to the passengers on the cruise ship. Client should prominently carry a hardcover book while in the boarding line.
- Wearing glasses will promote the image of a novelist, somehow people hold the idea that authors wear glasses all of the time, so studies show.
- When a yawn comes on, client must remove the glasses with a flourish and pinch his/her nose in “thought”. This will draw eyes to the client, and the viewer will ‘wonder?……’
- Client must take every opportunity to flourish the hardcover book. Pick a book with a bright cover, and an ambiguous title to wave about. It is important for the Client to carry the book at breakfast time and lunchtime, and to READ while eating. “Authors” always read a book by other authors at meals, the other passengers aboard will think. The reading of a book thus prepares the writer for the inevitable writing session later. That is what they will conclude.
- When the Client is at cocktail bars around the ship: Be Careful, carrying a book here is problematic, it seems out of place to many. But, reading a book at the bar would attract attention quickly and be talked about. Client should Be cautious doing this! A book at a sit down cocktail lounge is good! A book while seated at the bar itself is “too much”!
Things to AVOID when Projecting the Image.
Client should NEVER mention a title for the book! Client should ALWAYS insist that “I am not sure about the title yet!”
Vary with; “I haven’t decided”,
or vary with; “I want to see what the editor thinks” ,
and sometimes; “What do YOU think would be a good title?”.
Client should never be specific over what the book is “all about”, NEVER, EVER be specific. Instead suggest:
“Well, I haven’t really decided on the focus, it is just about what it is like on board a ship, and the curious things that happen aboard” (mention something silly or unusual observed aboard),
or say “You know, sometimes I find that the ‘characters’ TAKE OVER and lead the WAY”,
or “I find that the concentrating on the middle of the book is the best way to start! The writing process itself will settle the beginning and the ending, as I go along! I know that sounds strange!, but that’s the way it is with me!” (make sure client practices a sly smirk to use after saying this).
Spreading the Image around the ship.
- Client should be very visibly reading the selected book at all meals, and while sitting down in a lounge.
- Client should ALWAYS be seen carrying a laptop bag. When questioned if that is uncomfortable, client should loudly declare “I’ve got my manuscript in there!”
1. This will usually cause an exclamation, and then client can begin conversation about “the book about cruising” that he is TRYING to write. NEVER, EVER suggest that it is near done!
2. Remember, Client is always “BEGINNING” to write the book! This suggests that client has no firm idea where it will go, and the people around client will OFFER ideas to help client out.
3. Client should listen to their ideas and NOD SAGELY to whatever they suggest, say “That’s INTERESTING, PERHAPS I can work that in!”
4. If client has a notepad handy, write the suggestion down, be sure to note down the suggestors name for flattery sake. When they see Client writing their names down, it will suggest that they have made an important contribution!
- Before meals the client should position himself prominently at a position that people will have to WALK PAST on their way to the dining room. Note: an Apple laptop is ideal as the apple icon on the back of the screen lights brightly and attracts the eye making the client highly visible. Besides “artists” prefer Apples, everybody knows this.
- Client should be very visibly touch-typing, even if the client is only typing gibberish. People are impressed if you seem to be typing and looking around the room for ideas at the same time. BUT, if someone leans over towards clients screen, Client must make sure that he closes the laptop, and acts mysterious, this will attract attention for certain! Remember, the client HATES people looking over his shoulder.
- END FILE
I start projecting Image 2.0
It is Sunday, 27 November 2016. Today is the start of my cruise. It is also the day that I begin to project my new image! I am quite excited, and a little nervous as well. I will behave as my normal self as I drive to the Port of Baltimore. I will also have to be myself while traversing both the security and check in lines at the terminal. However, once I clear these hurdles and start my walk up the gangway, then I will have to assume my new personae, “The Cruise Ship Novelist”. I will have to start the projection of a completely new Image! I knew that I would need a little luck to pull this off! ……….
Once I had gotten through the security and check in lines, then it was time to start my act of being “The Cruise Ship Novelist”. I was thinking about this, and was rehearsing some of my lines as I walked aboard the ship, crossing the Renaissance Atrium Bar, on my way to the elevators and up to my cabin #4164 on the Main Deck. In my cabin I took about 15 minutes to get my shirts and pants hung up in the closet, and my other garments secreted into the closet drawers. Then I was ready to leave the cabin.
For a book that I could prominently flash around, I had chosen my personal copy of “The Image Men” by J.B. Priestley himself! It had a bright white cover, and the author’s name and the title of the book were in tall red lettering. It was a totally appropriate book for me to use as a prop! I put my laptop bag on my shoulder. As I was heading for the cabin door I thought to myself, in a rather nervous voice; “IT’S SHOWTIME!”
I decided to head to the Alchemy Bar on the Deck #2, the Promenade Deck. This was a new bar added to the ship when it went into its last rehab. Called “Fun Ship 2.0” there were a couple of signature bars that would be added, eventually, to all of the Carnival Fleet. I was most interested in the new Alchemy Bar. And it was to be dramatic, interesting, and even included it’s own custom carpeting with the chemical symbol of Ethanol throughout.
The Alchemy Bar would become my favorite place to perform. In order to reach the dining room, most of the passengers would have to come through the center of the Alchemy Bar. The line for the dining room would run right in front of those wonderful curved marble tables, with the just the right height upholstered bar stools with backs. I would set up there with my MacBook and it’s illuminated Apple Icon. I would be instantly visible to everyone in line. As I touch-typed and cast my eyes around the room, it would look as if I was casting about for an interesting idea. This was the perfect spot for me to be discovered as “the Cruise Ship Novelist”!
I set up in the Alchemy Bar at 5:30pm and started in with my performance. I had a set of templates in my word processor so that it would be easy for me to take the notes for my journal. But it would appear that I was blocking out the outline for my novel. However, that Sunday evening there was no real reaction to my performance. Several people stared at me while they were waiting in line, but no one spoke to me at that time.
Later that evening while having my supper in the Mermaide Grille, I decided on a routine for the cruise to maximize the effects of my new image. The Normandie dining room would be out. There the tables were more isolated from each other due to the formal atmosphere. My performance would be easier, and more convincing, in the more relaxed atmosphere of the casual dining room, the Mermaide Grille on the Lido Deck. So here is how I decided to go;
- Breakfast in the Mermaide Grille. I would set up here with my unopened MacBook, but I would have my reading book open and read while breakfasting. The relaxed feeling here ought to make people more open to question me.
- Lunch in the Mermaide Grille. I would behave the same as at Breakfast.
- Afternoons would be spent at various locations around the ship that were in high traffic areas. Here I would be seen with a cocktail and have my laptop open, highly visible, and my book prominently placed beside me. I would act very convivially, and be open to conversation with any who cared to ask about my Priestley book, or about my constant typing into my laptop.
- Suppers would also be in the Mermaide Grille, behaving the same as for breakfasts and lunches.
- Evenings would be when I took a break from my writing. However, I would make sure that even in this lounge or that, I would have my laptop. (if asked I would say; “just in case inspiration strikes”) And I would have my ebook (with it’s internal reading light turned up as bright as possible, thus being highly visible) along with me!
- As a precaution, in the evenings, the waiters were all cued and tipped by me to loudly declare “Sir, your usual: a Rum and Coke!” with my frequent calls for something to drink. However the staff all knew to serve me a plain coke without any rum, in the evenings. (HEY, my ‘Hemingwayesque’ image must be maintained after all!)
EUREKA! I get a nibble!
Monday, 28 November 2016. I got my first nibble early! Well, they say that the fish bite best in the morning after all. Aboard cruise ships there is an old tradition of discount Bloody Mary’s served from 8am to noon. I would suppose that this goes back to the days of combatting scurvy, those days Bloody Marys and a G&T were considered medicinal. In my early days of cruising the Bloody Marys would be half-priced. Nowadays they are a mere dollar or two off the regular price. And Yet!…..
My habit in the past was to come down to the Atrium bar every morning after breakfast and have a Bloody Mary, or two. As far back as I can recall, there has been the same Asian bartender (Ratchanee) on duty in the mornings (and in the evenings) aboard the MS Carnival Pride. She had gotten in the habit of calling me Mr. Paul.
And this Monday morning when I came to the bar, she brightly greeted me with a cheery: “You’re back aboard Mr. Paul!” I warmly greeted her and I did not even have to tell her what I wanted. She just went and made up my morning usual: Bloody Mary, no celery, just 3 dashes, no more, of Worcestershire, and no umbrella please!
Although it is not the best of form, I had my laptop at the bar, and started to make some notes. After tending to a couple of other ‘regulars’ at the bar, she came back to me and asked what I was writing? (My first nibble)…….
I told Ratchanee that I had decided to switch to fiction, and that I was starting a novel about cruising. She got all excited, (and with my left hand I signaled her to speak up a bit.) Bless me! dear Ratchanee, she played right along! Asking me if I was going to write about the Carnival Pride? I told her that yes, yes I was, but I would have to change the names for the novel.
Still excited (and speaking loudly, enough for the whole bar to hear) she asked: “You mean I am going to be in your book? this ship too?” Oh, she was being a darling! So I decided to bait the hook for the patrons of the bar. “Yes indeed,” I brightly spoke: “Of course since we have been friends these past five cruises, so some of the stories you have about below decks are also going to be included, names changed of course”. I could almost feel the ears of the people around the bar twitching!
Gosh, “this is fun!” the thought started to roll around my mind. I hope that my performance is selling. I should know in a couple of days. Meanwhile I was determined to leave a note with a nice tip for my dear Ratchanee, she was perfect!
Another Nibble, in an Unexpected place
Tuesday, 29 November 2016. Although I had not planned to eat in the Normandie dining room. This day I decided to take a break and have my supper in the formal dining room. It was well that I did so. For once I had snagged a prime table. The Maitre de had placed me at a table for two on the upper level of the Normandie dining room right up against the railing of the balcony overlooking the lower level.
I had not brought my laptop, although I did have a book to read while dining. I had also not expected anyone to interrupt me. But, a couple did! It turned out to be an Alan and Suzy, who recognized me and my book. They told me they had heard I was writing a book, and they wanted to know how it was going. I replied; “It’s going pretty good, but I need a plot twist worked out. However, tonight I am taking off because I wanted a bit of luxury dining”. Alan told me; “I quite understand and we’ll leave you for now, but perhaps we will be seeing you later in the cruise?”. Another nibble, apparently there is some talk onboard the ship about me.
Overheard on the Lido Deck
Wednesday, 30 November 2016. During my supper in the Mermaide Grille, I had my open laptop and book with me while having a light supper after a long day in the Magic Kingdom, when I overheard from behind me:
- “There is that crazy writer!, I heard he is writing a SCANDALOUS! book about what goes on in this ……………. “ (voice fades away).
Interesting! Word about my image, (becoming “scandalous” to boot), is clearly spreading about the ship! This is FUN! Who could have known I could be so interesting? I chuckle in glee on the inside, but I do not break character! The Show Must Go On!
Hook, Line, and Sinker!
Thursday, 1 December 2016. Today was to be the breakthrough of my performance! And it would happen just as I was to take the Bahamian Bar Hopper Tour! How fortuitous. On this shore excursion that was to last from 11am until about 6pm, we would visit four bars. With a complimentary cocktail in each, and a 1 hour party at each of the following bars.
- The Blue Parrot at the end of E. Bay Street and Hall Lane (a bar known to James Bond). Within sight of the Sidney Poitier bridge.
- Margaritaville on Paradise Island, right on the waterfront between the two traffic bridges.
- Fish Fry Central out near the cargo port on W. Bay Street. An unprepossessing and bit shabby bar. Must be owned by a friend of the bus driver.
- And finishing up at the Señor Frogs at the foot of the old British Colonial Hotel, another place well known to James Bond from the movie/book “Thunderball”.
I went out to the dock to wait for the shore excursion to start. There was a delay of some sort, and the tour group wound up sitting on the wharf waiting for our tour guide. While there I ran into Alan and Suzy again. They introduced me to their friends, Hugh and Crystal. We talked about the book a bit, and I told them that I had not brought my laptop since I had hit a block. I told them; “I need some sort of plot twist and I’ve lost my way. I am hoping for some inspiration to strike while we party!”
As it turned out, Alan and Suzy lost interest. However, Crystal, Hugh and I hung out for the rest of the day at all the bars. We talked lightly at the Blue Parrot. It was not until we reached Margaritaville on Paradise Island and our third round of cocktails that the conversation became lively.
I explained that I had my protagonist to the point where he had to “Run”, and at what point would the best to escape from the ship and disappear? They really got into the idea!
We had to rule out Monday and Tuesday of the cruise, since the ship was at sea, no way to escape without bribing or otherwise coercing the captain!
Hugh thought that the shore excursion to the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday would be good. But after much discussion we had to rule it out. Presumably Counter-intelligence would know that there were three areas where they would have to keep a watch; the ship terminal itself, the Ticket and Transportation Center at DisneyWorld, and the Entrance/Exit plaza at the Magic Kingdom. While once inside the park, the only way to escape would be to jump the park perimeter, hope to avoid Disney security and make it across the alligator filled swamps, no thanks!
Crys thought that escaping from Nassau was promising. But both Hugh and I thought that counter-intelligence would certainly cover the airport, and have agents on the Prince George Dock! There was the possibility of using a small boat, but then go where?
By the time we reached Señor Frogs, the cocktails and the parties had kind of made our thinking muddled, and by 8pm we all decided it would be best to get back to dock and get aboard the ship! Leaving the escape route unsettled.
As far as I can tell, my performance is still undetected. They think I am a real novelist!
“Thank God for the Freeport Mailboat!”
Friday, 2 December 2016. I would meet up again with Hugh and Crystal while on yet another shore excursion. This time at Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, during our visit to the Garden of the Groves. We had a nice time, it turned out that they liked gardens as much as I did, and we all enjoyed touring this fabulous garden.
After the tour we gravitated to the grill in the garden and had sandwiches and beer. Talk turned again to how my protagonist could make a “break for it”. I told them that I had an idea, and wanted to know what they thought of it?
My idea had started to solidify as we docked at the Freeport Port Terminal. I noticed that the Freeport shipyard was adjacent to the passenger terminal, and in the turning basin was the Freeport Mailboat!
My idea was that IF, my protagonist could get to the Mailboat before going through the passenger gate to the terminal, THEN maybe he could get to the Mailboat unseen, and bribe the captain to get him to one of the smaller islands when the mail was delivered. Then once on this outer island he might find a small plane and pilot who would take him to a small airport, “with no questions asked”. So I wanted to know what Hugh and Crys thought about the idea?
At this time we ordered some Margarita’s and happily went over the plan, working out the details until the call came to board the bus and return to the ship. I think that it was a job well done by my Novelist!
My Performance Comes to Its End
Over the next two days of the cruise, I would meet a couple of more people who had heard about me from Alan/Suzy and Hugh/Crys. And while over cocktails we would talk more about how my book was coming along. It was great fun for Saturday at Sea, and the morning of disembarkation Sunday. I made sure that I said NOTHING definite about my “Book”. We discussed title ideas. And we would discuss various escape twists. I assured everyone that I had a whole notebook of ideas from them. I exclaimed that once my hangover had subsided I would get to work on my outline.
I also assured everyone that this would be a time in coming out, the composing and polishing of a novel is long and laborious. Right up to Saturday evening, Ratchanee at the Atrium Bar, kept the talk about “the Crazy, but really nice, Writer onboard” going on. She really was a darling!
While not everyone aboard was talking about me, I feel that my imposture was a success, and I must admit that this, “my performance of a lifetime”, was a lot of fun! But it was a great deal of work, and a lot of rehearsing. But perhaps I might try it again sometime. I am planning a trip to Volcano Bay over at Universal Orlando, hmmmmm, I wonder what I could go as?