Umm, maybe you shouldn't look at the front page, Ray told me last month as he dropped the Sunday New York Times on the table.
But it was impossible to miss. Above the fold was the listing Costa Concordia, which had run aground off the coast of Italy, killing at least 32.
The photo was striking, otherwordly in it's incongruity. A gigantic vessel, capsized - misplaced in its ocean home.
Ray had been trying to convince me to go on a cruise for months. This wasn't going to help.
The only thing I thought sounded cool about a cruise was being at sea. To be a speck in the ocean on a ship carrying the population of a small town of people.
The rest, eh.
Buffet food, families, fake night clubs. "Exploring" touristy ports in depressed areas where fancy boaters get their hair braided by locals. No thanks.
But Ray, who's never met a boat or a port he didn't like, stood firm. He fed me homemade bread pudding and plied me with tales of abundant sunshine, shades of blue I've never seen and all the fruit I can eat.
Envisioning myself sitting in the sun reading
And in spite of my months of hesitation and resistance, I am excited. People keep asking me where I am going, phhsst. Who cares where I'm going… someplace tropical. The real thrill is I'm going to be on a giant boat!
I went deep sea fishing a few years ago and could have cared less about the fishing. Surrounded by water on a big fishing boat, it was beautiful. The water was perfectly clear and there were gorgeous blue fish in skools all around us. I idly ate cheese and peanut butter crackers and pretended to fish while I daydreamed of being first mate to fishing boat captain... Ernest Hemingway.
My reverie came to a crashing halt when our shark bait finally got a nibble and the actual boat captains - neither of whom were strappingly handsome like the young Hemingway - sprang into action.
Given that my mind was everywhere but on that boat, I panicked when the captain strapped a fighting harness around my waist and excitedly exclaimed, "It's big a one!"
I started exclaiming too.
"Isn't there someone more qualified?! I don't think I'm big enough to reel it in!"
I envisioned myself tumbling head over heals off the side of the boat, right into the mouth of Jaws. Being bitten or eaten by a shark I could probably handle, but I DID NOT want to see it's big dead eyes or scary pointy razor teeth. Yuck.
My hesitation caused the boat to lose the fish and everyone was disappointed. Everyone but me, that is.
I calmly wiped the orange cracker dust off of my mouth with something like: "I said I didn't want to. If you'd have listened you'd have that big fish ... It was probably a tire anyway," I quietly added.
But I digress. The best part of the whole thing was being in the middle of the ocean. So look out cruise, I'm practically an enlisted Navy boatsman. (Or whatever they're called.)
I'm sure the ruggedly handsome captain of our ship (Jacques Cousteau, in my head) and myself will thoroughly enjoy the seafaring next week. We are explorers, Jacques and me.
I hope he likes magazines and strawberries.