Thursday 27, 1998, Deck 5/Cabin 5262 – 20:15
Zach laughed and said, “Okay Girl, I hear through the ship’s grapevine that the crew bar is done with maintenance and it will be open tonight at 8 pm. Here is a little map that you may find helpful for the crew bar.” Now, I had a puzzled look on my face as I opened the folded piece of paper that Zach was handing me. “Why do I need a map, isn’t it like a bar on land?”
“Girl, you don’t know the half of it…the drama that goes on in this room which will keep you busy with your little black book for a long time…it’s time to explore a new world.”
Dear David…I walked down the hallway to Alan’s cabin on deck 5 and I studied the small map that Zach gave me. I tried to imagine how unique this small room would have to be to cater for the leisure time of 56 nations.
I knocked on Alan’s door and prepared my senses for the outfit that he will be wearing. The song “Dancing Queen” could be heard blaring through the cabin door. The door swung open and there he was dressed in a lavender colored tail coat, matching trousers, bright pink tux shirt, and a magenta colored bow tie.
“Where in the fuck do you find these outfits Alan…Liberace’s garage sale?”
“God don’t like hate, Buttercup…if you want to be the talk of the town you have to dress the part. P.S. this is underdressing for a night out, there are no sequins or rhinestones on me at all”, sang Alan.
“You will surely be the talk of the town My Dear, don’t you worry about that. Check out this map that Zach gave me of the crew bar.” Handing the map to Alan he studied it and with a confused look on his face he asked, “What the hell is a Steiner?”
We made our way to I95 and headed aft to staircase 32 and up to deck 4. As we walked up the staircase you could see the haze of smoke collecting a foot below the ceiling. The beat of a sub-woofer vibrated off the white enamel painted metal walls.
“I feel like we are walking into a rave and me without my ecstasy and my rhinestone pacifier”, giggled Alan like a kid in a candy store.
We walked into the smoke filled room that was lit with black lights and other whirling lights over the dance floor on the right-hand side of the room and the dim light over the bar on the left-hand side of the room. I couldn’t make out how deep the room was, but I did notice that the line for the bar wrapped around the whole room to where we were standing at the entrance.
As we got in line for drinks there were two Jamaican guys in front of us, who were eyeing the loud full-figured British girls cluster on the dance door like any out of control “Hen Party” or “Girls Gone Wild 1, 2, & 3”. “Nothing finer than a Steiner” sang the guy in front of Alan.
“Well that answers that question. Tony pull that map out and let’s check out the layout of this room” whispered Alan in my ear.
Everyone was dressed in regular clothes so it was hard to sort out what department everyone was found in. But there were groups everywhere that matched the map from Zach. The buzzing of different languages was all over the place and Alan’s outfit was quite the buzz on its own.
As we drew closer to the bar I asked Alan what he wanted to drink. “Well, Dirty Martini of course.” Looking at the 6 pack of Corona Beer and plastic cups going by, I wasn’t too sure if a Dirty Martini was on the menu.
“What do you want?”, barked the little Filipino behind the bar.
“2 Dirty Martinis”, I ordered.
“You may want to order 2 extra Dirty Martinis at a time unless you want to drink this one and get back in line for the next.”
“Okay, I’ll take 4 Dirty Martinis!”
“5 dollars mate”, barked the bartender as he started throwing our drinks together in 4 plastic cups.
“I think I found heaven… I can be butch and drink out of a plastic cup for $1.25 a cocktail”, shouted Alan over the music, which seemed to get twice as loud by the minute. We grabbed our drinks and we headed over to the British Corner that had dart boards lining the wall and where we could set our drinks down.
“Where are all the beautiful men? With so many countries in one room I would have expected a few hotties that are curious enough to buy a mysterious lady a drink” Alan whispered in my ear. Looking around the room and I looked at Alan and said, “What did you expect, the scene from ‘Dirty Dancing’?”
“Baby is already in the British corner, but this is a lot different than I expected. Maybe I should have worn a wife beater, baggy jeans, and construction worker boots” exclaimed Alan with a tone of defeat.
Before I could say ‘your gayness could be seen from space’ to Alan I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Barry, that handsome Personnel Officer from the first day, handing me a bottle of Corona. I was about to show him the plastic cup in my hand when Alan jumped in, “Well thank you, My Dear Tony, for holding my cocktail”, grabbing the drink out of my hand.
I looked at Alan and then back at Barry and thanked him for the beer. Then Alan tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Oh, I’ll leave you two…I think my friend just showed up.”
Watching Alan work his way through the crowd like a trained “Bottle Service Waitress” any bar would be proud to have, I took a deep breath.
Taking a drink from my beer for a bit of courage I asked Barry, “so, just how many languages do you speak?”
“Only 14 different languages…working as a personnel officer it does help in communication to customs officers and so many different crew members” explained Barry with a tone of pride. “How many languages do you speak Tony?”
I laughed and shyly said, “I don’t even speak England well…just the one language.”
“I hope I’m not overstepping, but I noticed on your paperwork that you have marked yourself single, but you are wearing a wedding band?” I looked down at my left hand and sighed as I always do when I think to myself that it has been so many years, why do I still wear my wedding band. I guess this read on my face and Barry said, “I’m sorry if it’s a touchy subject, I didn’t mean anything by the question.”
“No, it’s pretty simple…my husband passed away a number of years ago and I still wear my wedding ring out of respect.” Barry reached for my hand to take a closer look at my wedding ring and said, “That doesn’t sound pretty simple…it sounds very painful but I understand what you mean. Have you found peace to begin dating again?”
Wow, things move quickly in the crew bar. “Yes, it’s actually why I accepted this contract. It was to move forward”, I said realizing he was still holding my hand and didn’t seem to have any current plans of letting go.
“Well, Tony…you have certainly found a new world to move forward and find peace. I hope I can assist in your process.” Barry placed his hand on the small of my back and for the first time in years, I felt safe.
“Yes…I would really like that Barry”, I whispered in his ear and we cheer with our bottles of Corona beer and look out on the dance floor where Alan was spinning in circles with his lavender tail coat flipping behind him. I looked up at Barry who had that beautiful handsome smile spread across his face.
Even with the music blaring on the dance floor I could hear music playing in my head…the sound of a jazz clarinet…
“Maybe this time…I’ll be lucky, maybe this time he’ll stay…”
Watching Alan joining the Steiner Hen Party…I looked up at Barry and smiled…
“Maybe this time for the first time love won’t hurry away”
Barry moved his hand from the small of my back to around my shoulders…
“He will hold me fast and I’ll be home at last…”
We looked at each other and Barry leaned down and gently kissed me on the lips…
The only thought in my head, “Maybe this time”
Don’t miss any Tales Of Cruise Ship Life excerpts from The Floating City of Misfit Toys by Tony Yamashiro:
Continue to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 9: WTF
Return to Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 1: Dream
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