Cruising with Teens
We took our sweet time getting out of bed. The previous day had really tested our endurance, and the evening had tested our patience. A sea day was heartily welcomed.
“I’m so glad we don’t have to do anything today. I’m totally exhausted,” said Kris.
“That’s the sign of a good vacation,” I observed.
“I’m serious,” she said. “It was great to see Frank and St. Thomas again, but I’d be happy with a cruise that just went around in circles and never stopped anywhere.”
I nodded in agreement. “So what would you like to not do today?”
“I’d like to sit in the sun and read for a while, hit the t-pool, maybe look in the shops again – you know… nothing.”
“Fine by me. Don’t forget we have the galley tour this afternoon.”
“Oh yeah. When is that?”
“You must be so excited,” Kris continued.
“Of course. Aren’t you?” I replied.
“I don’t cook.”
“Yeah, but you eat, don’t you? Aren’t you curious?”
“Sure. It’ll be fun,” Kris answered unconvincingly. I tried not to feel guilty. The tour shouldn’t last any longer than it took to buy jewelry on St. Thomas.
“Maybe they’ll feed us dessert,” I offered.
We grabbed some breakfast and headed out to the tables on the rear deck. As we passed hundreds of people sitting in the cafe, I couldn’t help but wonder why they chose to stay indoors. Outside, the day was iffy but the atmosphere on the deck was splendid – a nice breeze and the hypnotic sight and sound of the ship’s wake.
When we came out of the trance, we headed back to the cabin to pack up everything we needed to do – well, nothing. Funny how much preparation is needed for an extended session of inactivity.
Just as we were about to depart, the doorbell rang. I answered the door, laden with a backpack and a beach bag. Wells and Danny strode in. They looked beat.
Kris summoned her cheeriest voice. “Hey guys. Sleep well?”
“Nah. We took a little nap and then woke up, so we went out,” said Danny.
“Where’d you go?”
“The clubs,” replied Dan.
“And the casino,” Wells piped in.
“The casino?!” Kris shot back. “What did you do there? The slots?”
“Blackjack,” answered Wells.
“I just watched,” said Danny.
“You’re more brave than we are,” I said. “How’d you do?”
Wells reached into his pocket and removed a slip of paper. He looked at it briefly, and handed it to me.
My reading glasses were still on the table. I had forgotten to pack them in the beach bag, so this was a lucky break. The boys’ arrival had spared me a trip back to the cabin, which doubtless would have been necessary just when I got comfortably settled in a lounge chair and opened my book. I hate getting old…
The slip of paper proved to be a receipt for $100, paid on account for cabin 8119. Wells said, “We just paid it down at the Guest Desk…or whatever they call it.”
“You didn’t have to do this,” I said.
“Yeah, we did,” said Dan, speaking in a low monotone.
There was obviously something significant behind that statement, but Kris spoke up before I could dig for details. “So tell me, how did you do in the casino? Did you play the $5 game? I’ve always wanted to try that, but I’m chicken. Where did you get the money? Did you win anything? Did you try the slots? I haven’t been doing very well in the casino on this trip. I hope you didn’t like it too much. You don’t want to develop a gambling problem. That’s all we need…”
I felt the need to interrupt. “Let me guess. You won a hundred dollars.”
“Yup,” answered Wells.
“And you thought you’d ease the burden and pay it to your account…”
“It’s my fault,” said Dan. He turned to Wells. “You’d better show him.”
I felt a little chill run up my spine. Wells dug into his pocket again, and produced a wad of folded paper. He handed it to me.
I unfolded two pages – their room charges. I skipped to the end. When I saw the total, I froze.
“What the #@*#&$!,” I stammered.
“What’s wrong?” asked Kris, finally picking up on the undercurrent.
“I’m really sorry,” said Dan sheepishly. “I didn’t know.”
I wasn’t yet sure how they’d managed it, or what Dan’s role was. Scanning the pages, the answer popped out. Four items were prominent, all with the description “Satellite Phone Calls”. In the “amount” column, these items stood out because their digits thrust far into the left hand side of the column, away from the comfort zone immediately surrounding the decimal point. The most expensive, although the differentiation was just a technicality, was a call made at 1:45 a.m. on Monday. The charge was $270.30.
I took a deep breath. “Didn’t we warn you about using the ship’s phone? At least twice?”
Danny looked me in the eye. “Yeah, but I didn’t think it would be that expensive.”
“How much is it?” asked Kris. I handed her the bill, and she zeroed in on the targets. “WOW! Who were you talking to?”
“My girlfriend,” replied Dan.
“You could have bought her a nice ring for that!”
“And a bracelet,” I added.
“I know. I thought it would only be about a dollar a minute.”
Kris tried to console poor Danny, who was sweating bullets. “Well, you learned the hard way.”
“Why do I always learn the hard way? Not just the hard way… I always learn the expensive way…”
“It’s a special skill,” I said.
“I’ll pay you back. I promise,” said Dan.
I pondered the situation. “I tell you what. We have a tour of the galley coming up. I’ll see if they’ll let you do a little KP to work it off.”
“Sure, whatever you say. What’s KP?”
“You know – Kitchen Police, Kitchen Patrol – wash dishes to work off your debt. I guess we’d have to call it Galley Duty on a ship.”
“O.K. I’ll do it,” said Dan. Wells stayed silent.
“I’ll let you know. So, what do you guys have planned?”
“We’re going to take it easy – hang out,” said Wells. “And not spend any money.”
“Good plan.” I had the idea for a little punishment. “I want you here in your tuxes at 7:15 for dinner. We’re going to make a little movie.” The boys nodded submissively. “And bring your sunglasses.” This elicited more nods, but this time there was some apprehension. “Dismissed.”
The boys turned in unison and left the cabin. I poured a cup of coffee, dumped in a nip bottle of Irish whiskey, and downed it in a single swallow.
“I hope she’s worth it,” I said to Kris.
“The girlfriend… I hate telephones.” I put my glasses in the beach bag, and said, “Let’s go relax. This vacation is almost over.”