Banana had drawn the blinds across the balcony window, blotting out the sun, and I was prepared to slip silently into nonexistence. No nutrients had entered my body in over a day. I was dematerializing into the bed. With The Momma and Banana asleep, I realized that regret would be the only attendant to my death. The innumerable what-ifs that had kept me up so many nights were to be my shepherds to infinite slumber. There would be no expiation for my sins. I would never know all I sought to needlessly know and I saw the glaring naught my life had provided the world. I was afraid.
I said, “The cradle rocks over the abyss, and life is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.”
“ZzZzZzZz,” replied Banana.
There was a knock at the door. The End had arrived, finally.
I rose reluctantly from my deathbed. Twitchy hand to frigid doorknob, I breathed in a last, bittersweet breath. I opened the door. It was Steffy.
“You feel up to breakfast?” He asked.
I groaned and placed a hand on my grumbly, convex stomach.
“You feeling up to a little gambling?”
Within ten minutes I had lost 200 USD on roulette and was very seriously considering showering the dealer in a high PH throw-up. Every time I lost, Steffy would sing his refrain: “I think you should quit now before you lose everything.” I explained to him that, when gambling, losing was twice as fun as winning, and, on top of that, winning, when gambling, was twice as fun as doing anything else that was not gambling. I placed my bets.
MY INSIDE ROULETTE CONFIGURATIONS:
Either: 23, 13, 11, 9, 7, 0, 00
The four corners of 5 Red, 36, 0, 00
MY OUTSIDE ROULETTE STANDBY:
Play these combinations and victory is guaranteed.
BACK TO ME & STEFFY AT THE ROULETTE TABLE
I did not quit. I lost everything.
Steffy was disconsolate. We slunk to the buffet. An employee intimidated us into using the malodorous hand sanitizer. I could not describe its stench. In defeat, I feasted on a slice of watermelon and Steffy mourned the loss of my last month’s pay. The Captain rolled by on his Rascal. He did not wave. Off starboard, the waves were nearly vertiginous, stunted by wind, shedding their crests in disintegrating rainbows. I assured Steffy that I would win everything back. We cleared our plates and returned to our respective staterooms.
Once bathingsuited, Steffy and I ascended to the deck, where Big Ray had appropriated 20+ chairs through a strategic and meticulous allocation of towels. The Fam was there, minus Jordy, who had contracted my stomach malady. Everyone waved.
“Carrrrrmmmmmm,” Noni Carmed.
Lil Ray, fresh from six hours of grinding at Entourage teen club, ambled by, flanked by fifteen tween girls, an ice cream in his hand.
I said, “I lost everything.” A cold wind blew, coerced gooseflesh from our arms. Steffy and I decided to submerge ourselves up to the nipples in a hottub.
FIRST EXCLUSION FROM CAST OF CHARACTERS REQUIRED TO CONTINUE NARRATIVE
The Bouncer-15-overweight overseer of the hottubs, never enters any hottub, never removes his shirt
BACK TO CONTINUING NARRATIVE
We snuck past The Bouncer and submerged ourselves to the nipples in one of the ship’s six lukewarmtubs. I shrugged. Steffy shrugged. Paul Scalley vaulted onto the pool’s stage. He was recruiting for a competition called Mr. Incredible, which is essentially a beauty pageant for male cruisers. After twenty minutes of extortion Scalley had extorted five grotesque old men and Travis to complete. He persisted.
“More than 2000 male passengers on the beautiful Norwegian Epic and this is the turnout I get? Hey, Skinhead, how about you!?!”
“No, thank you,” said Skinhead.
Scalley pointed to a stereotypical Asian. “How about you, buddy?”
SECOND EXCLUSION FROM CAST OF CHARACTERS REQUIRED TO CONTINUE NARRATIVE
Asian Love-Mid 20s-Stereotypical Asian
BACK TO MR. INCREDIBLE COMPETITION
Asian Love lost. Travis lost. Interchangeable Middle-Aged White Guy won. His villainy doesn’t merit an inclusion in the cast of characters.
Disgusted, I returned to 13098. The Momma and Banana were napping inside. Quietly, expertly, I showered. I read 250 pages of The Instructions and three issues of the The New Yorker. I yawned. Banana raised her head and opened her eyes.
“Hi, Banana!” I said.
Banana dropped her head to the pillow and closed her eyes. I got dressed and went to dinner.
AN ASIDE ABOUT HOW THE FAM DECIDED WHERE TO EAT AND WHAT TO DO AFTER EATING:
Aunt Michele organized everything.
WHAT AUNT MICHELE ORGANIZED THAT NIGHT:
Post-Dinner Entertainment: The Second City
BACK TO CONTINUING NARRATIVE
I ordered the duck for dinner (quack, quack). Its ordering took five seconds. The subsequent fifteen minutes were devoted to the ordering of my Disaronno & Coke, which by final tally took the concentrated effort of three waiters utilizing seven languages and an incalculable amount of confused looks. With Jordy sick, The Fam bore another incomplete dinner, but, judging by the joviality and animation of the conversations, we were unfazed. We feasted (discounting myself, Banana, and Steffy due to acute tummyaching). At dinner’s end, we were presented the dessert menus. Under the list of after dinner drinks was, in fanciful, bold print, the word Disaronno. I closed the menu.
The Fam left Taste. We chanted our mantric war cry on our way down the escalator, pumping fists on the downbeat, weathering a cascade of onlookers’ condescending glares and wide eyeballs. “Family Cruise,” we chanted. “Family Cruise, we chanted again.” Jenny and Kelsey went to prepare for the Giants v. Eagles game. Steffy, Noni, The Momma, and I returned to the casino. Within minutes, I had again lost everything. The Momma had lost everything. Noni had broken even. Steffy had won three hundred dollars.
He quit. He won. The Momma went to nap. Noni went to bed. We went to watch the Giants v. Eagles with Kelsey, Jenny, and a bucket of beer.
No one had thought to warn us about Kelsey’s fandom vis-a-vis The New York Football Giants. Like most seriously serious sports fans, upon the game’s commencement Kelsey enters into an adrenalized and emotionally volatile conversation with the television broadcast. He celebrates the Giants’ triumphs exuberantly, denounces their missteps doubly so. An exacting, acidulous hatred pours from his eyes onto the faces of the broadcasted players and the outlying fans. I enter an equivalent state when watching The Philadelphia Flyers and FUTURESEX/CUMSOUNDS. So I can empathize. Sadly, though, alcohol does not mix well with this strain of fandom. The Litigator was soon to find this out.
To Kelsey and Jenny’s immediate right was a tall, slovenly, very drunk Giants fan. We dubbed him Drunken Giants Fan. He loved The Giants. He hated The Litigator and his reason and multisyllabic diction. Drunken Giants Fan also loved his wife and infant child, because he brought them along. In the aftermath of every belligerent outburst, DGF’s wife would offer an apologetic smile or mozzarella stick to her husband’s victim, but there are only so many mozzarella sticks on the Norwegian Epic, especially when The Litigator has half of The Eagles receiving core on his fantasy team, The Shlemeils.
“Wooooooooooo,” wooed Drunken Giants Fan.
The Litigator’s eyes rolled.
“GADAMAT,” screamed Drunken Giants Fan as The Eagles converted a 3rd and long.
“Yessssssss,” said The Litigator, lowly, to The Fam.
Somewhere during the course of the game, when The Giants’ defeat gave its first groan of imminence, Drunken Giants Fan began to wax poetic about the merits of Eli Manning.
He pontificated, “You can’t be a great qwataback unlesh you got a reeng.”
To which The Litigator replied, “What about Trent Dilfer?”
“DILFER!?!” expounded DFG, pushing aside his wife and his child’s stroller. “DILFER?!?!?!!”
The remainder of the conversation, before Kelsey separated the two, consisted of this:
DFG: Slurred generalization about Eli Mannig’s divinity
The Litigator: “You’re right!”
Drunken Giants Fan eventually went vertically comatose and was led by the jersey to his stateroom by his head-shaking wife. The Litigator went to bed, his Shlemeils and logic a step closer to victory. We (Kelsey, Jenny, Banana, Steffy and I) went to Bliss Ultralounge.
Bliss Ultralounge will play the setting for the majority of what remains of this cruise diary. Ergo, I am going to skimp on scene-setting and that night’s events, as they consisted boringly of our getting loaded and incessantly requesting that DJ LIVEITUP play Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare). To summarize: Everyone drank too much and watched in glazed horror as The Papieto Clan incestuously ground with each other until we couldn’t watch or drink or anything anymore.