Tuesday, February 23, 2010
My mother in law said we had to take the trolley that makes stops so we can get off, see things, get back on etc.
We all argued about it. I said we'd be better off going straight to Hemingway's house as there's nothing to see outside of the main town area but, of course, the old lady won the argument.
So we trekked over to the trolley and bought tickets for everyone. We got on the trolley and were told the total tour was about an hour and a half. The driver was pointing out highlights along the way. My mother in law never stopped talking to her daughters, except to shout to the driver that she couldn't understand a word of what he said. He told her to move closer and, perhaps, listen and not talk. Bad move on his part.
We got off at Hemingway's house and my son and my nephew said they didn't want to go. So we left the women and wandered around a bit. It was now 1:30 and the boys were hungry so I called my wife and told her we were thinking of grabbing a quick bite so that we'd have time to see the things they boys wanted to see. My wife told her sister what our plans were and my mother in law shouts out "are they crazy? we'll go back to the boat for lunch."
A quick argument over the complete and utter stupidity of heading all the way back to the boat for lunch ensued. We won this one but the caveat was that we had to wait for them so we could all eat together.
Shortly after the argument ended, the women emerged from the house and joined us by the trolley stop. We boarded the trolley, looking forward to a quick meal and some cool pirate shit for the boys. An hour later my mother in law is questioning the driver as to how much longer before we get back to the main square. He tells her it will be another 20 minutes and she says she didn't realize the ride took so long. I told her they said it was about an hour and a half when we got on, we spent ten minutes on the trolley to get to Hemingway's house and that it makes sense that there'd be another 20 minutes. I told her this was why I suggested we not take the trolley. I told her that I didn't need to hear someone point out each motel along the beach and that was all the trolley was doing.
We arrived at the square and started looking for a place where we could get decent food quickly as it was now after 2. My mother in law wanted to hit a restaurant a block off the square, my brother in law suggested the giant, more touristy spot across the street. He figured they'd get the group of 9 served faster as they seemed more prepared to handle large groups. We would up at her choice. They had to push tables together to accommodate us. The menu wasn't suitable for my niece and nephew. The waiter said they could make the quesadillas they wanted without the beans, the avocados and the salsa. Then we waited for the food. And waited. And waited.
The food came out, the quesadillas were wrong. We no longer had time to wait for them to redo the food so we ate what we had while she argued with the waiter about the shitty service.
My son had to take a dump mid-meal so I took him to the can where he, mid shit, proceeded to ask me questions about luke skywalker and his lack of a light saber when he fought the monster in the basement of Jabba's palace. When I asked him why this would be on his mind, in a stall, in a restaurant, in key west, he said, with a red face, grunting and pushing "it's important to me."
I love the kid but he's abnormally obsessed with the movies.
Anyway, it was now 3 and we had to be back to the boat in an hour and a half so we only had time for one thing and the boys chose the aquarium. The girls chose something else and we split up. We should have split up when we first entered the town but the crazy broad demanded togetherness.
The aquarium wasn't very impressive but it did have some fairly cool stuff. My son held all kinds of ocean life and had a blast. We wound up back at the boat around 4:50 so the line to get on wasn't so bad and it gave us plenty of time to get changed and ready for the next feeding.
Dinner was, again, a serious of complaints about the shitty food. I'm not sure why anyone was expecting 5 star cuisine on a cruise but, still, they complained.
Me? The food snob? The one who only eats certain foods? The hardest one to please? Nary a word. I think it pisses my mother in law off that I, the one she expected to complain, seemed pleased and satisfied with everything.
The satisfaction and pleasure was a result of my setting my expectations so low that everything was a nice, pleasant surprise. Fuck, I might have slipped a smile or two that night.
After dinner the kids played in the game room and then they went to see the show. I avoided the show. My brother in law and I went back to pack our shit as we were leaving in the morning. We did, of course, hit the casino for about 20 minutes, winning a few bucks in the process. A pattern was clearly defined at this point. Play without the women, we win. Women play with us, we lose. Going to be hard explaining this to them when they want to hit the tables later but it needs to be said.
The kids loved the show, they had a blast. A couple of the crew, who came on stage so the audience could applaud them, gave my kids towels tied up like animals. They were thrilled.
The kids went to bed and we hit some game show for adults. It was a scavenger hunt that had the contestants looking for things like "two men with their pants on backwards."
We left after about ten minutes.
We hit the casino. I alerted the women to the conundrum. They told us to suck it up and not blame them. My brother in law lost two bills. His wife lost another. I broke even and my wife won about two hundred bucks. My theory still not proved to be wrong.
The next morning was a rough one. We had to wake up and get off the boat by nine, find our bags, go thru customs, get to the airport and go thru security for a flight that was leaving at noon.
It was a hectic, nasty rush of an event but, fortunately, we split from the pack so we weren't bogged down by the size of the group. They others were getting in their car and driving back to my mother in law's home so they weren't in a rush.
At the airport, the week of bad food finally hit me. Fortunately, my amex platinum allows me access to the first class lounge so my session on the can wasn't coupled with the skeeves from the public shitter. It was a dump of biblical proportions. I felt like standing on the toilet, thrusting my arms high over my head and shouting "I'm the king of the can!!!" but I held back. Didn't want to scare the normals.
The flight was delayed. The gate was moved. The flight was delayed some more.
We finally boarded around 1:30 and headed home.
My wife and I have since agreed, we would never go on another cruise with our kids again, unless my mother in law wanted to do another family trip. If she did, we'd go but only if we had complete and total control over the rooms, the destination etc.
Funny thing is, I think, out of all the adults, I enjoyed it the most. I was expecting this god awful, horrible, horrific, torturous event. It wasn't total fire and brimstone hell. It wasn't something I'd want to do again but the kids had a blast, there was never a lack of activities and I was never bored.
And nobody threw up or died.
Can't ask for much more than that in a family vacation, can you?
Monday, February 22, 2010
Anyway, here it is, something from the archives.
Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more people are walking around with pocket dogs. You know the ones I’m talking about. They fit in a handbag. Their bark sounds like perhaps they’ve been sucking on helium and they look like the business end of a good mop.
I hate these little pests. They’re not dogs. They’re more like rats with an attitude. If you are a guy and you have a pocket dog, it’s time to come out of the closet. I have it on good authority that women are not attracted to men with these little sissy dogs. For the ladies out there, getting one of these dogs signifies a major step in your life. You have given up hope of finding a man and eventually settling down and having children.
I see these women all the time. They give their dogs names as if they were children. Gone are the old style dog names like rover and rex. One woman in my building has two of these little things. She named them Jane and James. She calls James “Jimmy”, unless she’s mad. Then she actually says James Charles Smith (the last name I won’t give out, for fear of someone recognizing this lunatic and handing me a defamation lawsuit). This woman says things like “kids, get on the elevator, others are waiting” as if these stupid little balls of fur can understand her. They run in and out of the elevator and she is constantly holding the doors and, therefore, holding me up on my way to and from my apartment.
She isn’t the only one. They’re everywhere. You see them on the street. Usually they are attached to a 25 foot retractable leash. These cords are like some
To make matters worse, these rodent owners take to dressing up their pets. Little dog sweaters, booties and hats. It’s sad really, for both the dog and the owner. Putting a sweater on your dog is the last gasp before succumbing to the lonely life you are destined to live. And please, don’t tell me Paris Hilton dresses her dog up and she is far from lonely. Why do you think she acts the way she does? She’s crying out for attention and is in dire need of a man who will be the friend, lover and companion she is seeking.
Anyway, seeing a dog in a sweater is a sad thing. You can’t help but stare. It’s like looking at a really ugly woman. You don’t want to look but your eyes are drawn to the ugliness. Before you know it, the ugly woman is looking back at you, you are forced to smile and suddenly you’re dating her. Ok, that doesn’t happen to everyone. It should. It would leave the hot girls for the guys that deserve them, namely me.
Did you ever notice how you don’t see a big dog in a sweater. Do you think a black lab or a german shepard would stand for such nonsense. Nope. The first time you tried to put a rain slicker on a Doberman would be the last time. The dog would bite you, grab its bowl and chew toy and move out. I don’t think they even make sweaters for those sized dogs.
When you see a dog in a sweater, no matter how small and annoying and ugly that small dog is, you are overcome with a sense of pity. It’s like seeing a child dressed in some horrific way, like knickers on a young boy. While you hate the dog, you can feel the suffering. These dogs always look like they are ashamed to be with their owner and the dogs always have this “please, kick me into oncoming traffic” look on their faces.
Well, if you are a small dog, and if you are subjected to being dressed up like some loser’s child, stop by NYC and look me up. I’ll gladly kick you into traffic.
We woke up and got ready for the day. By the time we sat down for breakfast, at least 4 tenders had transported 800 or so people to the island. The kids were wearing bathing suits under their clothes, our bags were jammed with all the necessities for a day at the beach. As we finished up our feeding at the trough, an announcement was made over the loud speaker. "Due to an increasing wind, we are temporarily halting tender transport to Coco Cay."
Great. Now what?
So, off to the top deck we went. The kids played ping pong while the adults sat around in an area of sun, trying to ignore the steady, cold wind blowing across the boat.
"The winds have increased to 45 miles an hour and we are going to begin evacuating the passengers off the island. There will be no return trips to Coco Cay. We apologize for this but the winds are creating an unsafe situation on the water leading into the harbor."
What the fuck do we do now? Stuck on the boat. Too cold to swim. Too windy for rock climbing.
The kids hit the arcade after playing ping pong for an hour. I hit the casino. The tables were all reduced to $3 minimums to entice every moron on the planet to try their hand at the tables. Free drinks were offered. The lines to the bars were snaking across each deck. People were getting a drink and getting back on line. A pathetic display of "gimme the free shit."
I sat at a blackjack table and watched a group of chinese passengers playing next to me. I was winning more than losing but the chinese, clearly unaware of the game and the basic concepts, were taking cards from me, causing me to lose more than I should have. It was frustrating as all hell, made all the more annoying because they spoke no english so you couldn't explain that you don't split kings when the dealer is showing a face card. To make matters even worse, even though they were doing it all wrong, they were still winning. After about 45 minutes, I gave up. I walked away with an extra hundred or so in my pocket but, I figured, I should have been up over $250. The dealer acknowledged as much and commended me on my patience and understanding when I didn't tear into the other players for not knowing what they were doing.
Dinner was, yet again, a fucking disaster. As mentioned in yesterday's posting, my mother in law bitched about the lack of chocolate desserts on the menu. So, at the end of dinner, the waiter came over and brought us the dessert menus. He also brought over chocolate mousse for everyone at the table. He said they had the chef prepare it for us, that it wasn't on the menu and nobody else was getting it. My mother in law tasted it and called the waiter back over. She then complained about how terrible it tasted.
I was sitting next to her, my wife and my sister in law had moved away from her to talk to the kids (in reality, they were distancing themselves from the embarrassment of her next complaint). I turned to her and said "they made you a special dessert because you were upset yesterday. you should have thanked them and not eaten it. Sometimes, a little gratitude, instead of constantly complaining, is the way to go."
She started to say something to me and I stood up and walked away from the table. I didn't want to get into it with her and I knew that, at that moment, if she were to respond in any way, other than to agree, I'd have lost my control.
That night we hit the theater again. The night's entertainment was a juggler and we figured the kids would love it. Surprise of surprises. We all loved it. This guy was fucking cool. He came on stage to the doors and proceeded to blow us away with his antics. Not only was the juggling cool as hell, he was fucking hysterical. He kept calling himself monkey boy, saying we wouldn't be impressed with an act, we'd simply want him to "add another ball monkey boy."
He did this amazing trick and then he said he only put it in the act a month ago and this was the first time he nailed it on the first try. Then he said "normally, it takes a while to get it right. Now I have time to kill."
Suddenly, from off to the side of the stage, a little voice says "dance for us, Monkey Boy."
The whole theater laughed. The juggler laughed.
My wife and I sat there, jaws open, stunned.
The little voice was my daughter's.
The juggler took it in stride and, after the show, when he came out to go wherever the entertainment goes on a cruise ship, we spoke to him about bringing the act to NY. He turned to my daughter and said "well timed joke, very nicely done."
We apologized and he laughed and said that he was serious. He said it was nice to see a kid who paid attention to the dialogue as well as the physical aspect of the show.
The kids went to bed, the parents hit the casino and we all lost a few hundred bucks in under 20 minutes. The casino, from this point on, was feast or famine.
Since we couldn't get off the boat, we left the island early, with the plan to be arriving earlier at Key West on Thursday.
Key West. Where we couldn't go fishing, instead, forcing the kids to sight see.
Key West, where we would begin the end of the trip.
I couldn't wait.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
After we ate I headed to the excursion desk to see about things to do in Nassau (our port for the day) and to book a fishing trip in Key West.
I was all set to book the trip for myself, my son, my brother in law and his son when the woman I was talking to told me my son was too young. Too young? That's right. The fact that he's bigger than most 7 year olds didn't matter. The fact that he has been fishing since he's 2 didn't matter. His age was on the manifest and the rules stated that he had to be 5.
So much for fishing.
It was too cold to do the dolphin swim or the snorkeling so we opted for the glass bottom boat. We grabbed our kids and supplies for the onshore adventure and headed to the dock. We were greeted with a sea of even fatter people. Carnival had a boat docked on the other side of the pier and their passengers could eat our passengers for breakfast. Literally.
We found our group, a mix of both cruise lines, and headed to the boat. We boarded the boat and a nice young man from the island started talking into a microphone about how he was going to alert us to points of interest along the way to the shallow reef. He said we'd see houses owned by famous people, former nude beaches and the hospital where Anna Nicole Smith's son died. My nipples were hard with anticipation.
As we pulled out from the dock, our guide said that he needed a few people to move to the other side of the boat to level us off. I looked back. A family of 3, with a combined weight well over a thousand pounds was sitting behind us. More than half the boat had to switch sides to level us off.
We saw Nic Cage's house. Charlie Chaplin's house. Barry Bond's house. Michael Jordan's house. The former nude beach and the hospital where Anna Nicole Smith's son died. People took pictures of them all. Why? I couldn't say.
We drifted over the reef and saw a few fish. Nothing spectacular but that's to be expected in a shallow, man made reef of mostly dead corals. The bulk of the reefs in the area died a few years ago. No reason. Just a massive die off.
My son was fairly interested in this and we pointed out fish and corals and he even recognized some of the undersea life as something we've had in our tank or seen in stores.
Then we went out onto the deck so the fat fucks could get downstairs and see the reef. My son was handed some bread and the real fun began. He was feeding the fish and loving it.
We got back to the dock and decided to wander thru the town a bit and grab some lunch. We ate a fairly decent meal in a restaurant in town. Mahi Mahi and grouper and the kids loved it.
I found out that codeine is sold over the counter in Nassau and grabbed some pills to make the rest of the trip more enjoyable.
We wandered around the town, I almost bought a very hard to find Rolex. Limited edition watch that is impossible to locate in NY. We wound up back on the boat around 5:30 and we had to rush to get ready for the next feeding. Nobody in our little group of men was hungry but we couldn't miss the meal because it was the captain's dinner. This is a meal where they suggest you don tuxedos and formal wear. I fought with my wife about it when we packed. I told her I didn't think it was necessary to wear a jacket. She won the fight and so we all put on jackets and fancy clothes and went to sit and stare at shitty food.
We told the kids to avoid telling anyone we had just eaten. We knew we'd get an earful for feeding the kids off the boat, right before this big, important meal. So, when he was asked what he wanted to eat, my son said "nothing, I just ate" and my mother in law went ballistic. "You ate off the ship? Why didn't you come back for lunch and then go back to the town?"
Um, because we wanted to eat edible food?
My mother in law complained about the dessert selection. No chocolate? How could there be no chocolate. It was bad enough that they didn't have shrimp and lobster for the dinner but this was an outrage.
She bitched so much that the head waiter had to come over and explain that there would be chocolate desserts on other nights. It didn't matter to her. She was not happy and, she said, she'd be putting this in her survey.
My mother in law then explained to us how she keeps a list of all the things she doesn't like so she can complain about them later. She does this all the time. Every meal I've ever had with her in a restaurant involves her complaining about at least one thing, with the hope she can get something knocked off the bill. It's embarrassing and I'm shocked my wife, or her sister, even dine out with the woman anymore.
When dinner was over we had about an hour to kill before the show they wanted to see was starting so my wife went with her mother to the captain's cocktail party. They did this because my mother in law couldn't miss the passed hors d'oeuvres. The woman is all about free food. Never miss a meal, never pay when you can get it for free. The kids were all playing video games so I hit the casino for about 45 minutes. Won about $150. The winnings gave me enough happiness to tide me over during the horrific show we had to endure. A group of low rent performers singing and dancing to disco hits from the 70's. My son sat on my lap, asking why he was being punished. I explained that he wasn't, that we were doing things, as a family, because that is what families do.
When the show ended, the game plan was to put the kids to bed, the oldest would stay in the room with my son and the other two would go with my mother in law to her room, where they were sleeping.
Problem was, it was 10:30 and my mother in law didn't want to go to bed until after the midnight buffet. That's right, more food.
She finally caved and the kids and my mother in law went to bed.
Back to the casino, this time with the women. We all tapped out in about 30 minutes. I lost my buck fifty. My brother in law lost two bills (one for him, one for his wife) and my wife tore thru my hundred bucks in not time at all.
We hit the midnight buffet, not to eat, but, rather, to see the scene.
fucking comical. All these fatties shoving more of the same shit down their throats. It became clear to me that the same food was being served at every meal. The breakfast ham was renamed for dinner but it was the same gray slab of dried flesh and so on.
The next day was Coco Cay. This is a private island, owned by the cruise line. Tons of activities on the island. Snorkeling, swimming, water slides, beach games, a barbecue, etc. I climbed into my coffin with a mild amount of excitement over the prospect of a day on the beach, swimming in the clear, green waters of the Caribbean.
day three tomorrow.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The flight down was perfect. The kids were angels. We arrived in Miami around dinner time, grabbed our bags, made our way to the hotel, checked in and then we needed to get some food in the kids' bellies. So, where do you eat when you are in Miami, near the docks, without reservations, at 8 PM? Bayside Mall apparently. So that is where we went. I'm not a Florida person. I'm not a mall person and I'm not a people person so this was going to be a difficult evening for me. The mall was filled with fat people moving in and out of crappy stores or restaurants. It's one of life's mysteries how so many people can be willing to lay down on a table and have their teeth whitened in public. Must be the new miracle formula.
Anyway, the options for food were the usual Florida Mall fare. Chillis, Hooters etc. The wait at every restaurant was at least an hour and a half. We tried the food court but, it seems, the fat fucks waiting to eat at hooters were having snacks at the faster fast food counters. Eating argentinian steak house take out while waiting for your all you can eat argentinian steak is a fucking sickness.
We decided to peek into Lombardis. It's a chain restaurant that claims to sell past and seafood although there wasn't much seafood on the menu. It was far pricier than the other restaurants, with the main courses coming in at around 12 bucks a pop. As a result of this outrageous pricing, the restaurant was half full and we sat down to eat. I spent a nice amount of time trying to get prosciutto but the waiter had no clue what it was. So much for the italian side of the italian restaurant.
Dinner was pretty fucking gross.
On the way out, one of my kids made a comment about how fat everyone was. The other child remarked about the tattoos. Everyone seemed to have them.
My wife leaned in close and said "these are all cruise people."
We woke up the next morning, showered, got our shit repacked to accommodate a day on the cruise without our luggage and we headed down to the lobby. My mother in law calls my wife to tell her they are heading to the boat early as she is handicapped (apparently annoyingly psychotic counts) and she says she will be able to get us on early too. When I asked my wife why we wanted to be on the boat early, when it was too cold for the kids to swim, she responded with "from this point out, we cannot ask questions."
So, off to the dock we went. We got there 20 minutes before the outlaws so we checked ourselves in. Seems they let everyone on at noon and my mother in law just thinks she's special.
Once inside the check in we had to sit and wait for the rest of our group to arrive because my mother in law booked three rooms for nine people and that means that one of my kids is booked under her room and we cannot go in without her. This also means that, in an emergency, one of my kids will be taken to one muster station (this is where you go when you abandon ship) and one kid will got to another muster station.
Now, I'm not too concerned with the ship going down but, still, how fucking stupid is the plan when it puts a 70 year old pain killer addicted hobbled woman in charge of two children in an emergency?
Ok, so back to the boarding. We get on the boat and head to deck 8, where our "rooms" are. Rooms is really generous but I can't think of another word that would best describe this space.
I was expecting a small room and small is what I got. Two single beds with about a foot, maybe less, between them. Another bed was hanging from the wall. My son demanded that I sleep under him (after hours of convincing him it was cool to sleep up top). This meant I was sleeping in a cot with walls on 5 sides. It was a coffin with one wall missing and it kept me up at night thanks to my claustrophobia.
There were 4 small drawers, space for a few items of clothing and a bathroom that was so small that you needed to leave the room to soap up your back.
What struck me most perplexing wasn't the question of why would anyone subject themselves to this kind of torture. It wasn't "how the fuck are we going to stay in this room and not kill each other?"
It wasn't anything like that.
No, all I could think of was "how do all the fat people fit?"
Seriously. The drawers were tiny. A 300 pounder couldn't fit more than a couple pairs of of boxers in one of those drawers. The entry hallway was narrow and to get into the bathroom or the shower, one had to turn sideways to ease inside. These fatties couldn't fit unless they buttered themselves up but then, what's the point of showering if you need to butter your body to get out again?
Ever scarier, nobody does a cruise alone. This means the fat people were travelling in pods. Mother, father and fat kids. Who's brave enough to sleep under one of those murphy beds with one of these fat kids in the bunk?
These are the things that got me thru the first day.
The first feeding was another treat. All you can eat and this is, truly, a great deal.
If you can eat a lot of shit.
By shit I mean the brown stinky stuff that comes from your ass.
The kitchen operates on electric only. No gas, no flame.
So, the steaks? Gross. The chicken? Gross. The only thing that was edible was the fried shit, the bread and the salads.
That doesn't stop the fat fucks from ordering 3 of everything. Sitting at the table that first night, my son across from me, eating his chicken fingers, me picking at a Caesar salad, looking down and seeing the rest of our table inhaling everything that was on the menu, I realized that I am vastly different from my wife and my daughter when it comes to food. My daughter likes the same things as I do, she loves my cooking and she loves great food but, at her core, she's like my wife. She's a cruise eater. My son, on the other hand, was somewhat disgusted by it all and when anyone would order appetizers or entrees, claiming it was for him, he'd stop them and say, politely, "no I want the chicken and nothing else."
He and I were inseparable for the rest of the cruise as we both knew that we would need each other to get thru the week.
The forecast for the week was more of what we had on day one. Lots of shitty food. Overcrowded rooms. Constantly trying to plan the day, and night, around meals and cold weather. That's right, the trip to the Bahamas was going to be a cold on.
Tomorrow is Nassau. High of 70.
Stay tuned for more....
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The toilet flushes and I hear "I hate this" from my son.
"What?" my wife asks him.
"My penis bone" my son says with disgust. "I hate it"
My wife asks why and my son says "my penis bone gets bigger then it gets smaller. Bigger. Smaller. Bigger. Smaller"
My daughter and I are now in hysterics listening to this conversation.
My wife says something along the lines of "don't worry, it means your growing" and my son says "can't it make up it's mind?"
My wife stifles a giggle and says "no, it will never make up its mind. It will get more indecisive as you get older but you need to use your other mind to help it make the right decisions."
My son stops at the door to his room, looks down and says "penis bone, this if Floogin Junior, I'm telling you to stop getting bigger and smaller. If you stay small, I'll stay small and then I can always be the little boy."
I'm half crying, half laughing when my son comes running up to me to give me a hug and a kiss. My first reaction is to back up a bit, lest I get poked with the boy's little boner.
I pick him up and bring him to his bed. I pull the covers up over his body, hand him is mlamla (don't ask, mine was a zhazhoo - it's a McNoogin thing I guess) and kiss him good night.
As I walk out of the room, I flip the lights off and hear my son whisper "stupid penis bone, I told you to stay small."
He's way too young to learn about penis bones. I'm guessing one of the other boys in his class told him it was a penis bone. I say this because my son has been walking around with one hand on his pecker for months, driving his mother crazy. We were at a birthday party for one of his friends and my wife saw the boy scratching and playing and she asked him what he was doing. His response was "fixing and itching my shemeckel." My wife turned to the mother of one his friends and said "he's constantly touching and moving and scratching his penis. I'd think he had vd or something if he was older."
The mother laughed and said "look at the boys, they all do it."
Sure enough, the group of boys he was playing with all had one hand on their crotch. Fixing, itching, moving, adjusting their wangs.
So, yeah, one of these boys must have told my son about the penis bone because it sure as shit wasn't me.