Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cruise: Other Passengers

One of the things I found intriguing about the cruise was studying the other passengers. There were any number of middle class businessmen and their families as one would expect, but I also noted some others who seemed, um... well, to have more colorful careers. I am sure the two Russian families and the Colombians were probably insurance agents or some such, but the two bikers wearing full colors were, well, bikers. And I couldn't help noticing that the bikers were exceedingly polite to the Russian and Colombian families. Made you wonder, you know?

And then there was the very muscular black guy who never smiled and had a tattoo of a seal on his arm -- navy seal maybe? He had the build and the security guy look, and we are talking Hawaii with its major naval bases, so not entirely implausible. But this guy kept looking this way and that like someone doing a threat assessment, but he's, you know, in a hot tub on a cruise ship, not guarding the president. And did I mention he never smiled, even though accompanied by his wife and child? I overhead his wife ask him in the hot tub, "Aren't you glad you came, now?" to which he replied, "Whatever. Just so long as you're happy." It was kind of sad. I mean, he was undoubtedly sincere in wanting to provide his wife with the vacation she wanted, but he was so obviously bored/doing it for her sake, that he was clearly bringing her down...would it have killed him to pretend that he was enjoying himself? Not only would it have made for a much better time for her and the child, but he might have enjoyed himself more.

And in the dinning room, there was the huge Japanese family, obviously sponsored by the patriarch who was enjoying himself immensely, and everybody was happy happy happy -- except the one daughter-in-law who was the picture of misery. Part of me is thinking, 'go with the flow -- you're in Hawaii, it's warm, the food is decent, how bad can granddad be?' but of course, I guess it can be very bad.... Judging by her unguarded expression, she'd pretty much rather be anywhere else in the world than at that table. Though she would make an effort to look engaged if anyone looked at her, which they mostly didn't.

Saddest of all was the one older lady who must once have been a beauty but whose current excesses of makeup, hair, and clothing suggested a combination of denial and desperation that was not becoming. I occasionally saw her seated with a large family grouping, so obviously along as someone's grandmother or aunt, but she spent most of her time alone, supposedly sunning on the deck, but like my navy seal, continually scanning the deck for someone or something: Potential prospects or wondering where the rest of the family was, I couldn't say. But I never saw her enjoying herself...even amongst the family, she seemed an obvious outsider.

And, I suppose it should have come as no surprise that several of the kids on the ship were little monsters. I know my girls are spoilt, but I like to believe that they are not yet spoilt rotten. But several of the youngsters on this trip had obvious social problems -- bullying being the most predictable and common. These kids had a sense of entitlement that went beyond expectation to the fundamental belief that they were better than anyone else, and that all other kids should pay them homage. At the other end of the scale was a girl slightly older than Tigana who wore a constant frown, and cringed from any motion in her vicinity, and had victim written in block letters on her forehead. Watching her enter the other kids' sphere of influence was like watching a bather enter a pool of piranha. Tigana was mostly oblivious to these interactions, gravitating naturally to the one or two other nice girls, or when they weren't around, complaining to me that the other kids available were ignoring her. Well, that worked for me: I was just as happy that she wasn't hanging out with these jerks. In particular I recall one stereotypical fat-boy bully holding court in the hot tub while half a dozen girls hung on his every word, and two lesser males took up station behind either arm. They're like 11 and 12 years old and already playing out their life scripts. Very, very sad.

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