Monday 7, November 1998, Deck 6 Aft – Backstage after the first show H2O Las Vegas Revue Show
6 days after the passengers have boarded in San Francisco, off the coast of Mexico.
“Tell me Barry, how is it that a tall handsome British gentleman like you isn’t already taken?” I had my arm around his waist and I could feel his body stiffen up a bit as I said this…Uh oh…here it comes.
I looked at Barry and he sheepishly said, “Well…I’m not exactly…completely free…I have a wife and two kids back in Sheffield”.
I kept saying to myself “WTF” as I’m sitting backstage between shows.
We just opened H2O Las Vegas Revue Show and I am tired.
I thought 42nd Street was a marathon, but this show is a mad rush of costume changes mixed with scenery changes under or on fire escapes, oddly placed staircases, low ceilings, and guests walking through our backstage area.
Oh, and let’s not get started on the forever moving floor that shifts without notice.
This show is hosted by the female singer in a mermaid costume with matching headpiece of large clam shell, all covered in crystals and sequins. Any song that has ever been sung in a movie or on stage that had a water reference was used in this show. It’s quite a clever use of material and amazing choreography that ties the numbers together.
So, it’s been two weeks since I had that ice bucket of news that Barry dumped on my head. I put my glass down and just walked away without saying another word to Barry. Every step I took away from him, the more I regretted even taking a chance to opening my heart again.
The only thought in my mind was finding Alan to sort this shit out in my head.
I went down to the crew bar and since all the rehearsals were done I knew I would find Alan there. Sure enough he was sitting with a very large and burly crew member wearing a very dirty boiler suit. The look on Alan’s face and placement of his right arm under the table, I think I caught him with his hand in the cookie jar (really, he had his hand in someone’s cookie jar)…Alan looked up at the moment and saw me walking into the crew bar and pulled his hand out the cookie jar and waved me over.
I walked right to the bar and called out across to the empty room to Alan and his special friend, “another round?”
As I brought over our drinks to Alan’s table, Alan turned to his friend and said, “Per, I need to talk with my friend, can you excuse us?” He said this while sliding his key card across the table to Per.
Accepting the key card, Per got up standing almost 6 foot, 5” tall and extended his hand to me and I accepted his handshake. “I am Per, head bosun…if you need me and my boys to tie up someone who needs a time out upside down off the back of the ship, just let me know.” His voice was a deep bass and I think I pooped my pants right there, “Okay Per, I will do that.” I shook his paw-like hand and he bowed his head and left the crew bar without another word.
Alan started laughing and said, “Maybe we could pitch this idea to the Cruise Director and tie Barry up like a Mexican piñata off the back of the ship and let the passengers at him.”
I looked at Alan and said, “How do you find these guys without a GPS?”
“It’s my God given talent and I don’t ask why, I just enjoy it…now what the hell happened to you My Dear, what did the bad boy do to you?”
“That mother fucker is married with two kids!” Alan had a very confused look on his face, he spoke very slowly letting the words sink in, “He is married with two kids…Sweet Jesus…the mother fucker is married to a woman and has two kids”, exclaimed Alan, clutching an imaginary string of pearls around his neck.
“Thank you for catching up Alan…grammar is not at the top of my list when I’m pissed off”, I scoffed. Alan looked at my face and saw the hurt in my eyes.
“Here I thought I was starting what seemed to be a lovely romance and what I find is yet another closeted coward who wants ‘her’ cheesecake and eat it too”, I said sounding defeated.
Alan was very quiet and then said, “I’ve been the woman before and it’s not fun…at least he was up front with you from the start. I dated this guy who didn’t say a word until his wife was introduced to me at an opening night of a show we were both working on. She introduced herself as his wife and I was so shocked and all I could say was, “oh…I pound your husband like a Mexican piñata…wonderful to meet you.”
Holding my drink in mid sip, I looked at Alan and proudly said, “Oh Girl…your balls are made of titanium.”
“Well, you don’t need to pretend…he took a vow of marriage, I didn’t. Maybe this is a good thing Tony. Have some fun and don’t look for marriage, look for ‘now’. You My Dear are living the cruise; you found love and lost it way too soon. You now have to find yourself in the crazy world; it’s just that some couples have different agreements with each other. What was your response to his news?” asked Alan.
“WTF was all I could say and then put my glass down and walked away without a word. I wasn’t going to throw my drink in his face or push him overboard, it’s not like we slept together…I’m just learning to trust again and he knew that. I think that’s what hurts the most.”
At that moment Zach walked into the crew bar and headed over to us, “Everything okay Boo? You look upset.”
I caught Zach up to date on Barry as Alan grabbed us another round of drinks. “I had no idea that Barry was bi; let alone a wife and kids. That’s the thing with ships…out of sight, out of mind.”
Alan brought our drinks over. He handed Zach his drink and he took a sip and looked me right in the eyes and said, “I’m not defending Barry, but at least he was up front and told you…some guys say nothing and you find out the hard way. The rules on ships are a harsh game. Have fun, but protect your heart.”
As we were talking, the crew bar began filling up. Whole departments were walking in now since the ship was still without passengers, everyone was pretty much on the same schedule.
Like a professor of ethology, Zach began describing the room to us…”Steiners are the party girls, youth coordinators are the ‘offering table’…usually to young theatre technicians. Young Officers are on the lookout for female dancers, it’s your Disney’s Circle of Life…but it’s survival.
Everyone is fighting being away from family and friends…fighting the loneliness and the feeling of isolation while still being surrounded by hundreds of people.
See those ladies over there standing next to the DJ booth? Those are the barracuda stalking their prey in the room. See the boys over in the back corner in ‘Jamaican Corner’? Those are the piranhas, they will eat anything.”
Both Alan and I laughed out loud; Alan shrieked…”It’s Lion Country Safari at its best!”
At that moment, Barry walked into the crew bar and both Zach and Alan grabbed their imaginary pearl necklaces around their necks at the same time and both exclaimed, “Oh Girl!”
Barry walked right up to our talk and said, “Tony…can we talk?”
Before I could answer, both Zach and Alan disappeared without a word to the far end of the bar.
I was only 2 drinks in, so I was in complete control of my emotions.
“Okay, I’m listening.”
Standing in front of me with his hands deep in his pockets of his jeans, he looked sheepishly at me and said, “Can I buy you a drink and go somewhere to talk…privately?” He said ‘privately’ looking over at my 2 sisters at the bar pretending not to be watching.
“I’d rather stay near my friends right now, but yes… you can buy me a drink and we can talk.”
As he walked over to the bar, I looked at Zach and Alan and they were miming to me “Should we stay near or go?” I waved to them to stay at the bar.
Barry brought our drinks over and before he put the cups down he said, “I’m sorry Tony…I prefer to put the cards on the table when I am starting to have feelings for someone else.” I paused…’feelings’ “Yes, I’m married and I have 2 kids at home, I was very young when I got married and most of my life has been at sea. I’m not even sure if I am gay, bi, or whatever…I just know what I feel and who I enjoy spending my time with. How about we just enjoy each other and see where this leads us? You have just started a one year contract and I will be here for the next 6 months.”
”Different rules for different couples”, is all I kept saying in my head. I let this thought roll around in my head for a few minutes.
“Well, you haven’t thrown your drink in my face yet, so I guess there is still some hope.” I noticed a slight nervous tone in his voice.
I looked at him standing there with that handsome goofy smile on his face and said, “Mother raised me right…we do not waste good liquor on drama, we drink good liquor to put us in the mood for drama. Okay, Barry I get it…let’s take this one step at a time. I do have a question…does she know?”
“Yes, again…I prefer to be up front and we have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell unless it’s going to change both our lives’ agreement.”
“How progressive”, I said jokingly.
Barry raised his plastic cup and I joined my cup with his…”to new beginning and new experiences…cheers.” Our cups made a dull thump as our cups met.
Barry jokingly said, “This would have been more romantic on deck 8 Aft with the sunset in the distance and not under the swirling disco lights of the crew bar.”
“Well My Dear, you have some planning to do.” I smiled and kissed him…we were standing right in the middle of the crew bar, but he didn’t care and wrapped his arms around me. In the corner of my eye I looked at the bar to my sisters and they were toasting us and giving each other a high five.
In my head I said, “New rules and new experiences…okay, here we go.”
Don’t miss any Tales Of Cruise Ship Life excerpts from The Floating City of Misfit Toys by Tony Yamashiro:
Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 9: WTF?
Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 1: Dream