Monday 19, October 1998, 30,000 feet in the air on United Airlines. Location: somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.
Dear David- We reach 30,000 feet and get the all clear by the pilot to be able to move about the cabin. I push my little button on the side of the armrest and recline my seat to the 2-inch allowance of comfort that the airlines provides.
I look out the window thinking back to the phone call that started this scavenger hunt I’m on…
“You will receive your plane ticket by messenger and fly to meet the ship in Dry Dock at the shipyard in San Francisco”.
Hearing a beat of silence on my side, she quickly adds, “not to worry there will be another Wardrobe Supervisor present and the two of you will fit and alter all the costumes, headpieces, wigs, and accessories before he leaves you and you begin your one year contract.
The ship is well stocked in inventory and supplies. The Company Manger will be there to assist you in all areas of ‘how the ship works’ and company policy”.
“Okay, it all seems to be pretty straight forward and organized”, I say feeling more and more confident in jumping into this gig.
Trying not to sound like a complete newbie, I say to myself “what the hell is Dry Dock?”
But I ask, “Once I land, how do I find the ship in dry dock”?
Kate perks up and said, “Thom…the other Wardrobe Supervisor will meet you at the baggage claim and the two of you will go to the shipyard together”.
Feeling that all the details are checked off my list, I tell Kate thank you and that I look forward to this exciting opportunity.
As my plane begins preparing for landing in Dale City, I look out the window to see if I can see the ship.
I locate the Golden Gate Bridge, no ship. I look around the bay and still no ship. Then I began to panic a little. Wait; there it is….the blue funnel of the ship with the 2 outdoor swimming pools that expand the upper level of the ship.
As I’m waiting at the baggage claim praying to St. Samsonite, the patron saint of suitcases that my suitcase has arrived safely. I notice a passenger with a luggage trolley containing the same sewing machine travel case as mine.
I quickly grab my suitcase and sewing machine travel case and make my way out the baggage claim area to find Thom the other Wardrobe Supervisor.
Searching through the crowd I spot the trolley with the matching sewing machine travel case and its owner standing against the wall with his arms crossed and a bored look on his face. He looks around mid-50, dressed in black denim jeans and matching denim jacket covered with dozens of Broadway Musical Show Buttons, worn like badges of honor.
I take a deep breath and extending my hand saying, “Hi, you must be Thom, I’m Tony”.
Thom looks up at me like a bus and truck Grizabella, the Glamour Cat left out in the rain overnight. He accepts my handshake with a limp non-committal shake and stands to full height and says, “Just so that we have an understanding, there is only one follow spot”. Like pissing on my shoe to establish who is in charge I say, “Okay, I get it…I will follow your lead”.
“Tony, Tony…Always you, every thought I’ll ever know, Everywhere I go, you’ll be…” I hear someone sings the lyrics from Tonight from West Side Stories behind me.
A la Auntie Mame descending her staircase without her trumpet I see my old partner in crime from another life Alan Lowe, my dear friend in his signature bright purple three piece suit and shocking pink dress shirt.
Alan and I hug and I can feel the heat radiating from Thom standing behind me. I quickly turn around to introduce Thom and Alan as Thom says, “You obviously know each other”. “Yeah, Alan and I use to work on a few projects together”, I tossed in as Thom stared Alan up and down in his fabulous outfit.
Alan jumps in with, “the hell a few projects together, we ran some of the biggest shows together and we pull them out of our asses…and never once spilt a drop out of our martini glasses”.
Trying to change the subject I say to Alan, “are you on tour or just checking out the troop in San Francisco?”
“Well My Dear”, as Alan wraps his arm around my shoulders and in speaks in this best show caller voice, “you are going to think I’ve lost my mind or having a mid-life crisis and following some Love Boat fetish but (pausing for effect) I’m a Production Stage Manager for the next year on a Cruise Ship called the Dream”. He slowly waves his arm as he said the word Dream, like slowly spreading butter…”Dreeeammm”
I pause for a dramatic moment and shout, “I’m on the same contact”! We jump and down like two school girls with dates to the Sunday Social.
Abruptly Thom interrupts our little reunion and walks passed both of us and dismissively said, “Great, you’re the PSM, you know where this ship is and you can pay for the taxi”.
Alan stares at Thom’s back as he walks away from us and hisses to me, “What is her deal? And what the hell to you mean, are you the other Wardrobe Supervisor I’m supposed to meet at the airport…when did you become Cinderella”?
“It’s a long story, one best told over a dirty martini…let’s go find this tub”.
Our taxi pulls up to the shipyard gates and the guard has no idea who we are and why we are here.
Alan sweet talks us into the shipyard and we begin looking for the funnel of the ship and we spot the funnel on the other end of the shipyard which stands out like a clock tower in a city of cargo ships and other cruise ships being worked on. We walk to the end of the lane and we turn the corner and there she is….completely out of the water.
Both Alan and I whisper in unison in a low tone of amazement, “Holy Shit…ten stories of a floating city completely out of the water and up on blocks”.
We walk as closely as we could and just stared up in awe at the massive ship’s propeller shining in the sun. I look up at my new home for the next year as we are watching her name is being freshly painted in royal blue.
Don’t miss any Tales Of Cruise Ship Life excerpts from The Floating City of Misfit Toys by Tony Yamashiro:
Continue reading Tales Of Cruise Ship Life, Part 2, The Bat Signal
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