I sent an Avatar Instead

Actually my last cruise was in 2012.  I, myself, never went on a cruise ever again. In the year of 2013 instead of taking a post-thanksgiving cruise, I stayed home and sent my Avatar ahead to take the cruise for me!  Then again in 2016, it was my Avatar that went on that cruise as well. And truth to be told, in 2018 for two days while at Universal Orlando, Paul D. Dute stayed in the hotel room, and my Avatar was the one that visited Volcano Bay and Universal Orlando Studios.

You see, once upon a time, I had another name when working.  I eventually was able to give that up. And became Paul D. Dute full time, once again, and I have been so ever since. As Paul D. Dute, I went on cruises beginning in 1990 and up through 2012.  I ended my series of cruises with a 7 day cruise from Baltimore to Florida and the Bahamas. I really enjoyed all of those cruises over that time span.

I had no intention of giving up on cruising though, no, not at all.  In 2014, 2015, and 2018 I went on multi-day visits to Disney World and Universal Orlando.  Those years I would have to fly down to Orlando. Having to fly, since on a cruise ship there is only a one day port stop where one can catch a shore excursion over to the theme park area.  If  I wanted to make a multi-day visit, then the only choices to get there are, flying, the train, or driving down.

But I am getting ahead of myself.  For 2013 I planned a cruise on the MS Carnival Pride. However I did not go, instead I send out my Avatar: eccentric blurb writing nerd with a speech recognition equipped laptop.

On a cruise it is possible to create an whole new identity, as it were.  I thought about it as creating and projecting a new Personae (footnote 1).  For this cruise my Avatar would wander the ship with his laptop, headset and microphone.  And my Avatar would make extensive diary and journal entries of the happenings around while hanging out at various lounges, bars, and seating areas aboard the ship.

My Avatar would stand out because of the headset with microphone.  The laptop was equipped with Dragon Speech Recognition© software. It worked very well.  I would softly speak and my dictation would be input into my file. But it was early days for speech recognition in those times.  So the sight of my Avatar there with a laptop at the bar was quite noticeable and stand outish.

By the end of the first evening several people had wondered why my Avarar was talking to the laptop.  That was the time for my Avatar to deploy my new Personae. When queried, I would explain that I was a political “blurb” writer. Invariably they would ask me to explain just what I meant by “blurb” writing.

My Avatar would explain that a “blurb” was a short essay upon a given topic.  He explained that he did not write whole books or speeches. My Avatar called itself a ‘political’ “blurb” writer because, rather than making stuff up, it was my calling to take a candidate’s thoughts, and then fill them up with that “homey” stuff that would make those thoughts sound “Stream of Consciousness Like”.  My Avatar explained that this was actually much harder than it might seem, and that there was a real demand for that sort of thing.

People are of course knowledgeable that serious candidates have a whole staff of people to work on their communications.  What you need: Idea Guys to come up with the basic message. But for a real success strategy, before calling in the Speech Writer(s), it is helpful to call my Avatar in!

Why? Because he can take the ideas and then wrap an anecdote around the ideas, and “homey it up a bit”.  Add those little touches, even some deliberate mispronunciation, and a cute metaphor or two, but don’t over do it!  In other words he writes a set of “blurbs” for the campaign. It is these blurbs that go to the formal Speech Writers to be turned into a stump address, or a full blown speech at a big fundraiser.

My Avatar realized a couple of days before the cruise, that once he got a conversation going, the very next question would be: “In the 2012 Election, did you sell anything, and to who?”  This gave my Avatar the chance to:

  1. Give a little gasp………
  2. Pause, and with some pomposity state: “Sorry but my dealings are understandably quite confidential, and I am bound by very firm “Non Disclosure Agreements”…….
  3. Another serious pause…….
  4. Give a Shy Grin, and wait for the next question: “can you give us a hint?”
  5. Another pause…………
  6. Then my Avatar would say something to the effect of: “Well, all I can say is that the campaign staff, which I could not name of course, was MOST GRATEFUL for my help.”
  7. Followed up by: “I can say no more.”

Then my Avatar would, from then on be most careful to close the laptop when anyone was too close.  Also for the rest of the cruise we would carefully place ourselves to be seen with the laptop and the headset in all sorts of places.  Prominent bars, at the food court tables after meals, at the very stern of the ship at the Conservatory (adults only bar and pool area).  We would be dictating to my journal, or dictating emails for family and friends.

For the remainder of the cruise my Avatar had become a minor celebrity on the ship! Once he heard faintly on the third day someone say: “Look! There is that crazy writer! The election is over, you would think he could just relax and enjoy the cruise!” My Avatar just chuckled under his breath!

By the end of the cruise I was being asked: “You can tell me! I won’t say anything!, You wrote that stuff for Obama didn’t you?”  I was quite pleased at reaction that my Avatar’s Personae had attracted! It was a most enjoyable cruise for my Avatar!

This little essay is not the end of the story however.  As I related previously, in 2014 I went for a 5 day visit to Walt Disney World.  And then in 2015 I went on a 4 day visit to Universal Orlando Studios to see the new Harry Potter Diagon Alley expansion.  For both of those trips I had to fly down to Florida.

But in 2016 I intended to cruise once again.  And once again I would take a post-thanksgiving cruise on the MS Carnival Pride.  And it would be AGAIN time to send of my Avatar on the cruise with yet another twist to the Personae.  

I was planning this time to be a Novelist, looking for “Color” on a cruise ship.  Should be FUN! …..To Be Continued…..

Foot Note 1;  I got the idea from one of my favorite books. “The Image Men” by J.B. Preistly, 1967,  About a couple of down on their luck professors, who create a new science “Social Imagistics” for the creation and projection of Social Images as a Personae.