Photo Gallery 2
Pictures taken by
SSQQ Suntan All Stars!
Rick Archer's Note:
For the second
year in a row, Steve Gabino was kind enough to be our
official Trip Photographer. As you will see from the
pictures I have posted, Steve has quite a bit of talent.
That is Steve
seated beside Vivian
This is the only picture of Steve I have seen so far.
The problem with being the photographer is that you are
usually on the wrong side of the lens. Fortunately,
Steve knows how to look good in addition to his skill at
taking pictures. That's a professional pose if I have
ever seen one!
Veterans of SSQQ
know that Steve is good. They have seen his Halloween
Pictures enough times to realize his pictures look better
In case you have
an event you would like photographed, Steve is definitely
for hire. He has developed his talent to the point
where his hobby has become a money-maker for him. For
example, Steve has photographed many SSQQ weddings.
If you are
considering hiring Steve for a special occasion, back in
2009 I wrote a
story about Steve that I think you would enjoy.
One of my
biggest regrets is not having many pictures from the first
few years of my dance career. After all, that era is
when all the wildest events took place... but no one
believes a word I say! Well, it's my own fault
for being camera-phobic at the time. Now that I think of it,
there aren't many pictures from my childhood either. I
didn't grow up around cameras. Being an only child with
no relatives within a thousand miles, I guess my mother
figured there weren't a lot of
"Family Occasions" that called for pictures.
people have contributed lots of studio pictures over the years
to make up for my slow start. I
remember a guy named Jim Fogo who asked permission to take
Halloween pictures back in 1980. Sure, why not?
Fogo gave me
copies of the pictures afterwards. I was so impressed
that I went over to Texas Art Supply and got a poster board
to mount them on. Then I hung the pictures up at the
studio. The effect was electric. Everybody
milled around those pictures with excitement. The
grins and laughter made it obvious they loved the display.
And that is how I grew my Halloween Party.
From that point
on, I made it a tradition to hang pictures from our biggest
parties up on the wall. We
had a long hallway that served as a photo gallery for all
the wonderful times at SSQQ. That was a good move.
As people entered the studio, they could see this was a
place where people had fun.
remodeled in 1997, that long hallway disappeared so the
pictures moved over to Room 6 which served as our new
entrance. Now students enjoyed looking at all those
pictures during registration.
Unfortunately, all of those pictures were removed in
December 2004 when a lady decided to paint Room 6 while I
was on vacation. Without bothering to ask permission,
she took all the pictures down and they stayed down. I
was really angry! Unfortunately, it would have been a
lot of work to put them back up. Oh well. So I
put the 40 posters full of memories in my car and took them
home to live in my attic. That incident still makes me
It was Gary
Richardson who taught me that pictures on cruise
trips are just as valuable. Gary went on our 2002 Rhapsody Cruise.
Like Steve, Gary takes photographs as a hobby. On that cruise, Gary took shot
after shot. All day long and all night long, Gary snapped
away. When the cruise was over, Gary
was nice enough to put the best pictures on a CD and hand
them over to me.
I took one look
at Gary's CD with all those wonderful pictures and had the
exact same idea as I did with Jim Fogo's Halloween pictures.
Except this time I posted the pictures on the Internet where
they couldn't get painted over.
Slipping Into Darkness
Gary's photos were
not only wonderful for the entire studio to see, each picture reminded me of
a story. They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
I say a picture and a story to go with it is even more
priceless. Those pictures did magic for my
imagination. All sorts of stories appeared in my
After all these
trips, I still have trouble writing the stories without
reviewing the pictures first. The pictures serve as my
inspiration. This year as I viewed Gabino's pictures from the trip
one by one, I mentally took note of the
stories I wanted to write. Take the nice picture of Chris, Eurindia,
Vivian, and Linda from the first day of the trip. That
me an idea to write a story about sun tans. On the
last night of the trip I had lined up the six "darkest"
people on the dance floor for a "Best Tan Picture".
As I took the picture, I distinctly wished I had a "Before
the Trip Started" picture for comparison.
why I grinned with satisfaction the moment I saw Steve's picture
of the white boys and girls from the first day. Only
one problem. The darkest person of all - Eurindia - wasn't in my
Sun Tan All-Stars picture. Darn it!
Fortunately, I discovered Steve had included a picture of Eurindia after her
"transformation" had been completed.
Eurindia is from Mexico, but one of her parents is from
Europe. That explains her exotic name which combines
"Europe" and "India". Her Mexican heritage explains
why she tans so easily.
Two other people
who were pretty dark were Steve Gabino and Zorro. Like
Eurindia, both men have Spanish blood in them as well.
As I studied my
All-Sun Tan team, I noticed my two friends with African
heritage - Iqbal and Mona - were among the darkest.
Iqbal was born in Tanzania on Africa's East Coast and Mona
was born in Egypt.
On the other
hand, I had no explanation for Vivian and Marla's tanning
prowess. Vivian traces her bloodlines to Sweden, so
that makes no sense.
Marla traces her
ancestry to Russia of all places. I have always
suspected a dark-skinned Romanian gypsy that Marla's
grandmother dated for a while contributed to Marla's family
heritage. But Marla insists there is no possibility of
scandal. On the other hand, Marla has no explanation
for her amazing tanning ability either. My money's on the
There is a
theory that as more and more people continue to disregard
racial boundaries, in the future all Earthlings will become
light brown. Judging from the pictures, it looks like
SSQQ is already there. There are exceptions of course.
Two of the exceptions are Gary Richardson and myself.
We have an
excuse. Gary and I are mortally afraid of the sun.
Both of us burn at the drop of the hat. I cringe in
terror at the very thought of even walking across the deck.
On the 2002
Trip, I went snorkeling in Cozumel. Our guide begged
us not to use suntan lotion for fear that the chemicals
would destroy the reef. His plea worked. My
guilt kept me from using lotion. Dumb move. At
the end of the day I had the worst sunburn of my life.
That said, there
were many Anglos among us who disregarded their Nordic
heritage and braved the sun anyway. And they paid for
winners of the Lobster Awards go to Mary
(pictured with her paleface friend Andy) and Dave (pictured
with his paleface friend Susan). Both Mary and Dave
are smiling in those pictures, but I bet they are miserable
inside their own skin. Just looking at Andy's arm on
Mary's pink shoulder makes me wince thinking about her
sunburn. Glad it was her and not me.
The Suntan Saga
is a silly story
yes, but you will agree it would be a waste of time to write without
the photographs. The pictures tell the story.
have played a big part in the ongoing success of the SSQQ
cruises. From the start that Gary gave me in 2002 all
the way through to Steve's work this year, these pictures
and the stories that go with them have helped me convince an
entire generation of SSQQ dancers that our dance cruises
are the real deal. Seeing is believing, that's for
In addition, it
is so much fun to go back to earlier cruises and recapture
memories. Those photos are like a family album to me.
They are lasting testaments to all the fun and good times
our group has had together.
Marla and I owe
a huge debt to Gary. His contribution of those 2002
photographs was the gift that taught me the importance of
photography. Like Sports Illustrated
reporting a sports story complete with brilliant
photographs, Gary's photographs made that year's cruise come
alive in ways the previous two cruises had missed. As a result, the
2002 Rhapsody Trip had the best cruise stories to date.
I have no idea
what all I will end up writing for this trip. I think
I will start posting my favorite pictures and see what stories
pop into my mind. The pictures tell the stories so
well that all I have to do is add the words. I just
stare at the picture and my fingers launch into action.
One more thing - let me thank Steve again for his brilliant work.
The Great Gabino is very great indeed.
Vivian and Steve,
two members of this year's All-Suntan Team
Betty and Gary Richardson. Neither Gary nor Betty made the
Sun Tan All Stars
Vivian, and Linda on the first day of the trip.
Note how light Eurindia and Vivacious are. Compare to
their pictures below.
By the end of the
trip, many people had turned golden brown.
The members of the SSQQ Suntan All Stars include Iqbal, Marla,
Zorro and Mona. Too bad Eurindia wasn't in this
picture. She was very tan
Thanks to Steve, I found exactly the picture I wanted.
As you can see, Eurindia clearly belongs on the Suntan Team.
Mary and Andy
Dave and Susan
Twenty Four Tables
Marla expresses herself in words without any difficulty
whatsoever. However once in a while she is able to use a very powerful
non-verbal communication known as "The Look".
In this case Marla is able to speak without speaking.
Here Marla is saying, "Can you hurry it up? We are the last
what am I up to? I am trying to take a
picture that will convey the utter vastness of our
group of 190. My back was to the wall as I
took this shot. Every table in this picture plus
one on my right and two more on my left belonged to our group.
had 24 tables. We literally stretched from sea to
story that I have never written about is how much
energy Marla puts into organizing her dining tables ahead of time.
Marla takes this responsibility as seriously as any football
fanatic does picking his or her Fantasy Football team.
would estimate in the weeks leading up the trip, I typically
see Marla working on her seating arrangement a minimum of
two nights a week. She likes to study the charts
during commercials. It is pretty strange watching
Marla trade a person from one table to another table like a
fantasy football owner gone mad all the while humming
at the same time, but that's my girl.
Marla's excessive preoccupation with seating goes all the
way back to 2003. Jubilee 2003 was Marla's very first
trip to organize. It was a big trip too. We had
144 people, many of whom didn't know each other. For
that matter, Marla only knew about a third of our guests by
name. So arranging the tables was guesswork at best.
Marla pretty much tossed all the unknown names in a hat,
shook it up and
assigned tables at random.
Although some guests really liked the people they had at
their table, others had a different opinion. Several
people pointedly asked permission to switch tables.
Marla and I decided to say 'yes' since it is much easier to
ride the horse in the direction it is going to go anyway.
the remainder of the trip it was common for people to move
from table to table each night as a simple way of meeting
everyone on the trip. Although our table hopping
nomads enjoyed their freedom, this practice led to some
serious anxiety on the part of the cruise line. They
were absolutely convinced that switching tables seriously
undermined the important guest-waiter rapport that resulted
in big tips for the waiters at the end of the trip.
had some sympathy for the dilemma of the waiters. After all,
the tips were the major part of their salary. Coming
from poor countries, they were deeply dependent on the
kindness of their guests. If they couldn't form a bond
with the people at their table, how could they expect to be
the other hand, many of our guests had paid for an expensive
cruise specifically so that they could make new friends.
After checking everyone out at their assigned table on the
first night, they were anxious to see who else might be
available. So they roamed from table to table all week
Thanks to Jubilee 2003, Table Switching became the norm.
Although our guests liked it, I caught heat. Every trip I would have to confront some
authority in the
Dining Room who was mad about our group violating their stick-to-your table policy.
Maître d' Who Made Rick Miserable
prefer not to name the trip, but on one of our cruises the
Maître d' was very upset with me. We will call him Andre.
One of the waiters had complained to him that our people
were moving all over the place. Andre came over with a
seating chart and looked for himself. Once he
confirmed our guests were table hopping, he confronted me at
the end of the second night of the trip.
Andre explained that he was adamantly opposed to allowing
this to happen. I could tell he expected me to back
down. Au contraire. I replied that Marla and I
predicted he would cause a minor rebellion if he insisted
everyone stay at their assigned seats. Did he really
wish to antagonize over a hundred customers?
some reason, my bluff worked. I actually had this guy
believing my dance students would follow me, their Fearless
Leader, to the very footsteps of Hell. We all know
better, but at least I fooled him.
Sure enough, as he surveyed the size of our group, Andre
backed down a bit. He had heard enough about Texans in
his homeland to know we were rumored to be uncivilized.
Sensing an opening, I offered a compromise.
What if we insisted that our Table Hopping Nomads had to
return to their official table on the Final Night so they
could tip their official waiters? Andre
begrudgingly accepted that compromise, but on one condition.
said that he would monitor the situation all week long. Then
at the end of the trip he would give me the results of my
plan. Oh, lucky me. I get to deal with this guy
every night for the rest of the week. Sure enough, he
meant what he said. For the rest of the week, Andre
found me after dinner each night.
have to be honest. Each night I would spend my entire meal
looking over my shoulder for this guy. I dreaded his visit with the same
feelings I reserve for trips to the dentist. Every
meal for the rest of the trip was ruined because I knew this
guy was going to find another reason to make me feel guilty.
I was the one who let my friends roam around his dining room and
deprive his poverty-stricken waiters of their lucrative
American tip money. It was all my fault.
Sure enough, just as my coffee was being served, Andre would
casually drop by and engage me in a running conversation
about how poorly he visualized this experiment would turn out.
Andre definitely got my attention. In fact, towards
the end of the trip he actually had me kind of curious.
So just how smart is this guy? Was he right?
the final night of the trip, everybody handed their tip
packages to the various waiters. I was sitting there
alone at my table waiting for the results. Andre had
asked me to stay behind while he tallied up the results.
Meanwhile Marla, my faithful companion, had ditched me. "I'm
going back to the room to pack, Honey." I felt
like the Lone Ranger deserted by Tonto.
I nervously awaited the results, I decided this was
definitely the only time in my life when packing would have
been an improvement.
Then the Voice of Doom approached. Andre the Maître d'
announced triumphantly that several of our guests had not left a single
dime for their waiters. Only 85% of our group had
rewarded their waiters. Not only that, he had a list
of their names. When I looked at the names on the
list, I was embarrassed. I had naively thought
everyone in my group had the decency to tip their waiters.
With his arms crossed, Andre the Maître d' gave me that smug
"Told you so" kind of look. However, I didn't give up
that easily. I asked Andre what percentage of the
general population of cruisers fail to tip their waiters.
That's when I detected a hint of a smile. It turned
out that our group was actually above average
compared to all the people who sail. However, before I
could gloat, the Maître
d' added a swift 'but'.
for a well-heeled group like
yours, I would ordinarily expect a 95% compliance rate."
Ouch. Touché. By the way, have you ever
noticed the word 'ouch' is part of the word 'touché'?
Coincidence? I think not.
Okay, I conceded the Maître d' had made his point. Our
table-hopping did seem to reduce our generosity. Although
Andre was a major thorn in my side, I also
admired him at the same time. The guy obviously had a
lot of nerve. If we switched roles, I am not sure I
would have had the guts to risk alienating a valuable
customer to prove a point, but this guy was fearless. I
might add I also admired Andre for his straight-forward talk
with me. He didn't mince his words one bit.
It could not have been pleasant speaking so candidly to a
total stranger like me about such a touchy subject. He was
definitely going to bat for his people. I am sure they
appreciated his effort to educate me on their behalf.
Leaders like Andre don't come along very often.
Back to the Drawing
didn't exactly become buddies, but I will say I learned a
lot from Andre about the cruise business. Still, the
stress on both Marla and me from dealing with this
formidable guy was
nerve-wracking. After the trip, Marla and I talked
about this uncomfortable incident. We scratched our
heads for a solution.
Marla said she had an idea. For the next trip, Marla
promised to work very hard at matching people up at each
table. It was like cooking. Maybe if she mixed
the ingredients just right, each table would click instead
of just a few. In other words, if a rapport could be
developed quickly on the first night, there would be less
incentive to roam for the rest of the trip. Marla's
plan was to create something she called 'table loyalty'.
for her next trip, Marla honed her strategy carefully.
Marla did everything in her power to match up each table
scientifically. It wasn't easy. I
distinctly remember Marla pulling her hair out every time
someone broke up with someone. "Why can't these people
get along till after the cruise?!!!"
People typically sign up for a cruise six months ahead of time to
get the best rates.
However, in the crazy world of Being Single,
someone's relationship status is bound to change at least
once, twice, maybe even three times in a long span of time like
six months. Can't have an ex boyfriend and girlfriend
at the same table, now can we? Sure enough, every
relationship change meant Marla had to redo her seating
chart plus phone in the changes to the cruise line.
Another headache were Family Squabbles. Marla
understood from the beginning that clusters of "Friends" had
begun to develop on the 2002 Rhapsody Trip as well as on the
Table-Hopping 2003 Jubilee Trip. It was natural for
Marla to group these new friends together on the next trip,
except she learned the hard way that even friends have
falling-outs. And every time there was a tiff of some
sort, it was back to the drawing board.
With Marla trying to put some logic into the Seating
Arrangement, each change meant reshuffling the delicate
balance. Marla is not always the most patient person
in the world, but she doesn't give up easily.
Marla stayed with it. She was determined
to see this project through.
The Dawn of Table Loyalty
Thank goodness Marla hung in there! Marla's 2004
Seating Arrangement worked like a charm. Marla must have done
something right because on the very first night I noticed most of her guests seemed to prefer the people they were
first seated with. Only a few people brought up the
subject of switching around.
That changed the dynamic overnight. Now people were
starting to get mad when they found some stranger sitting in
their chair at dinner. They wanted to sit with their
friends and who was this stupid Goldilocks person trying to
steal their spot? Things got a little snippy there and
the table hoppers got more cautious about sitting at a new table
Once that grouchiness began, it created a fairly swift
change in attitudes without either of us having to say a
word. Although switching tables was not forbidden, the days of the Table Hopping
Nomads were fading fast. From that point on, fewer and fewer
people bothered to switch tables on each new trip.
Quite frankly, on this Bahamas 2010 Trip, there was
little obvious table hopping at all. I can think of
only two people in particular who noticeably bounced from
table to table.
The vast majority of people were
perfectly content to stay at their original table.
That said, I did notice some very subtle switches.
There were people who migrated to the table they preferred,
then stayed there for the duration of the week. This
was done quietly enough that I would have never guessed
except that I had the seating chart.
Advice to Men - Take a Hint from Joel!
the purpose of this story, I asked Marla to describe how she
decides who sits where.
starters, Marla said she divides everyone into two broad
categories - Single or Double. First and foremost come
the "Singles". Marla said she was forced to make some
tough decisions on this trip due to the always-difficult boy/girl
Although men do enjoy taking cruises, women take it a step
further. They like the safety, they like dressing up
Nights, they like the dancing, they like the spa, and they
like the elegant dining.
It's a fact. Women go gaga over cruises.
Thanks to the strong female preference for cruises, we have
never had a perfect 50-50 balance and probably never will.
The best we have ever gotten was 45-55. Sometimes the
ratio drops as low as 40-60. Some people have
suggested we seek "male volunteers" to balance the ratio like we do
for dance classes. They forget we would have to pay for the volunteers. No
Another suggestion has been to limit the number of women on
each trip to the number of men who sign up. That idea
is not very practical. Any woman denied admittance for
that reason would be completely insulted.
Why anger someone? That makes no sense. Furthermore they could just as easily sign up for the
behind our back out of spite.
is what it is. There will always be a few more women
than men. Oddly enough, on every dance floor during
the Bahamas Trip there
were always plenty of guys to dance with. I am not
sure why the numbers balanced out, but I didn't see the ladies sitting much at all.
Since single guys are da man in demand, Marla had to be sure
she meted out her single men like the precious commodity
that they are. This wasn't easy, but she made sure
every "Singles" table got at least a couple eligible
bachelors to keep the ladies amused.
Still, the numbers don't always work out, so as you can see
Marla makes sure to put the extremely suave and debonair men like Joel
with five or six women at a time. Only men like Joel
have the skills necessary to handle the demands of excessive
female attention with complete aplomb.
you are a single guy, pay attention. I have told the men
over and over - If you want to meet women, learn to
dance and take a cruise with us. A cruise trip should
be your happy hunting ground assuming you go about it
gracefully rather than aggressively. Those strong ocean
breezes and soft romantic music turn every night into
some enchanted evening. Just a little footwork, a little
charm, add a great smile like Joel's and you might just get lucky.
Let's face it - if you are a single guy on a cruise and you
can dance, unless you forget to take a bath or have a
personality disorder, you are sure to receive ample female
attention. Take Joel for example. Judging from the pictures, not only can
Joel dance, he remembered to bathe.
And to think I
still remember the days when Joel was a very shy guy.
Joel has become a living breathing poster boy for dance
lessons. What a difference "dance" has made in his life!
to dance and maybe you too can have your very own towering
Pyramid of Women on the next cruise!
Families, Friends and Couples
Marla said that Family Tables are pretty easy to create.
The cruise industry loves 'Families'.
They understand that Families are the backbone of
their industry. Hence they go out of their way to make sure
their ship has activities that appeal to every Generation to
ensure everyone from Granny to Mom and Dad to Toddler has fun.
SSQQ Travel Group is no exception. We have Families
within our Family. For example, as I pointed out
earlier, on this trip Donald and Jean Taylor set a record
with seven family members. They
were given their own table although Don and Jean rotated
back and forth between their table and the "Fun Table".
Another family on board were the Greasons.
Richard and Toni Greason brought their daughter Leah and
Leah's best friend Rebecca along. That was half a
table right there.
For that matter, Peggy brought her two sons Richard and
Tyler along. For the most part, Peggy let the boys
entertain the pretty girls at their table while she hung out
with own friends at the Dancers Table. However, I
did notice Peggy dining with her sons one night as well.
Just checking in, I'm sure.
It seemed to me that everyone had the best of both worlds -
they could hang out with their families and they could hang
out with their friends. And if anyone needed them for
a problem, they were sitting one table away.
Donald Taylor wrote this:
Rick, you pretty
much hit the nail on the head when you guessed why Jean
and I like your cruises so much.
You said this:
My guess is
that Donald and Jean come all the way from Oklahoma
for the same reasons as everyone else.
cruise, the old saying 'the more the merrier' holds
true. Donald and Jean have the best of all worlds -
they have their daughter, they have their parents,
Donald has his sister, they get to see their friends
from the studio, and they even get to have some time
alone with each other. What more could you ask
We just love being
with all the dancers and you just can't beat walking
around the ship and knowing someone every time you turn
Three Boring Tables
"Couples Tables" are much easier to arrange than
managing the Wild Singles. Putting five couples
together is a very natural grouping. For example, on
the Bahamas Trip, Marla and I sat at the "Sliders
Table" along with
four other couples. We behaved beautifully and set a
perfect example for decorum.
There were several tables just like ours. For the most
part these tables were so well-behaved I don't have any stories to
share. So much for the rewards of decorum.
example, there was another "Couples Table" right next to
mine. During the entire seven nights on the trip I
didn't hear a single sound coming from this table. Yet
I think they were happy. I saw smiles whenever I
looked over to check on them. Plus they look happy in
their picture. Well, Gary looks sad, but I am sure he
is just thinking how much fun it would have been to
think their problem was they were all either rookies or
second-timers. No one had taught them how to misbehave
yet. Shoot, they didn't even have a clever nickname
for their Table.
think the problem with the Quiet Table was
they didn't have a born instigator in their midst. You
need someone who is naturally rowdy to bring out the worst
in people on these cruise trips.
Another quiet table was the Blockus Group.
Tim, Lisa, Phyllis and Susan all come over to my house once
a month to play Blockus. These people are all my
friends. They are really nice people and it isn't
their fault they don't like to cause trouble. Sam and
Teresa do not like to cause trouble either. I wonder
if they want to learn how to play Blockus?
I do believe Phyllis has some mischief in her. However
Phyllis had just gotten engaged to Larry, her boyfriend in
Houston, the week before the trip. So Phyllis missed
Larry terribly and was in no mood to cause trouble.
Gerry and her sister Nancy are another story. I think
both women are more than capable of causing trouble and
getting other people into trouble. Based on a Salsa
lesson I had with them, I am convinced there is something
quite sneaky about both of them.
However, when you are brand new to a group and you are
outnumbered 6-2 by a bunch of goodytwoshoes, what's a girl
going to do?
will say one thing. The Blockus Table
was lucky to have the sisters. If it wasn't for Nancy
sending me this nice group picture, this table would have been
missing in action like many of the other tables.
That's why I think Nancy and Gerry have potential.
They like attention and know how to get it.
I think both ladies could be rowdy, but I guess they will
just have to wait for the next trip to make their
The Not Quite Ready For Prime
Speaking of "breakthrough", there was one table in
particular poised for a major story. Lobster Girl Mary, for
example, contributed a very interesting picture with a
cigar. But no one - repeat no one - would dare come forward
to explain the significance of that cigar and the curious
look on Mary's face.
Then there was a picture on Don's cell phone of some
super-model he had run across at the beach who allowed him
to take her picture. Don was so smitten with this
woman, he had a coffee mug created with her face on it.
Unfortunately that's where the story ends. If there
was just one more tidbit of gossip attached to this story, I
think I could have run with it.
take a look at the group picture for this table. Take
a closer look at Joanne. Just study her face.
That's not a smile... that is a grin. That's right,
Joanne is grinning. Anyone who grins is hiding
something. I think that is the face of a troublemaker.
Joanne is saying to the world, "I've got a secret."
Don't ask me why I think that because I have absolutely no
evidence to convict her with, but I think Joanne could have
caused mischief and I didn't catch her.
Mary is one of my favorites. This is the woman who
once sent me a picture to replace another picture where she
wasn't smiling. Obviously on this trip, Mary needed no
help remembering how to smile. The thing that bothers
me, however, is just how 'angelic' that smile is. I
think that smile is misleading. Based on the cigar picture,
I am positive this woman is quite capable of misbehavior.
However, no stories ever cross my desk.
Then there is Tracy. I know Tracy is a born
instigator. However, Tracy is a sneaky devil woman.
She always knows where the cameras are and puts on her "Who,
Me?" Good Girl mask just in the nick of time. I think
Tracy and Mary both share their good girl side for the
cameras and save their bad girl personalities for the right
occasion. hmm. Well, let me change that.
Now that I see Mary's cigar picture, I guess only Tracy
knows when to duck.
have to hand it to Tracy. She did her best to try to
stir up trouble. Tracy was ready to go on the record
with all kinds of vicious gossip about her friend Sherry.
Here's the problem with Sherry. Sherry sees how much
fun Tracy has being a naughty girl, but Sherry is afraid to
be bad. Sherry is conflicted.
night, Tracy pulled me aside and said Sherry had complained
never writes anything about me. All he ever does is
write about you. What about me? I come on lots
of cruises too. When is Rick
ever going to write something about me?"
Sick and tired of Sherry's incessant whining, Tracy made a
promise to Sherry. Tracy said that as her best friend,
she would help Sherry get some of the worst cruise publicity in
history. Like the friend she is, Tracy immediately
began to tell me stories about Sherry and the waterslide
that cast Sherry in a much different light... very revealing
things. Plus Tracy called Sherry a very bad name.
In fact, let's put that in capitals. Tracy called
Sherry A Very Bad Name!
Frankly, the things that rolled out of Tracy's mouth were so
risqué that Sherry actually began to pale at the thought of
being written up. What would the people at work think
when they read this stuff?
Sherry immediately changed her tune and begged me not to say
a word. Too late, Sherry. Tracy has gone on the record
with gossip about you. You know the rules... unless
you give up gossip on Joanne or Mary or Tracy, I am going to
write you up. I swear I have never seen a more
pathetic look in my life. Sherry is such a sweetheart
that she could not even tell tales to save her own skin.
fully intended to make Sherry regret her decision and print
everything Tracy told me, but then one day Sherry
chipped a crown on the waterslide. Not only was she in minor pain
from that point on, she was so worried about the crown that
she developed a crooked smile. It crushes me to admit
this, but I actually began to feel sorry for Sherry.
So I canceled the story.
This could have been a hot table. This could have been
the table that won the coveted "Most Rowdy" award. But
they blew it. I blame it on a failure of courage on
Sherry's part. If she had just let me print that story
about losing her top in the waterslide complete with
picture, this table could have been a contender.
Close, but no cigar.
Actually, it isn't just Sherry's fault for getting cold feet. I for
one am very disappointed in all of them. I hate wasted
potential. Talent without direction will always lose.
The Look of Love?
No, this is a totally different kind of Look.
The Look of Love? Definitely!
Marla and I love Gerald and Virginia McEathron and Pat and Jess
Both couples have taken over ten cruises with us. Thank
The Look of Love? Maybe.
Actually, this is a very strange kind of Look
The Look of Love? Maybe.
Amber is grinning
because she's the only girl on the trip with two boys to one
girl. Those handsome young men are Peggy's boys Tyler and
The Look of Love? I'm
not sure what that Look is.
On the outside, Peggy is smiling, but on the inside she is
Andy has the weirdest demonic raised eyebrow since Jack Nicholson.
The Look of Love? Considering
Rachel just got engaged, probably not.
The Look of Love? OMG.
Don't ever come between a Boy and his Boa.
The Look of Love? Definitely!
Congratulations to our Newlyweds Toni and Richard.
And why is this man
Gee, those Suave
and Debonair Guys get all the girls!
The Look of Love? Actually
that's a Look much closer to Bliss.
The Look of Love?
Definitely! That's Savannah and Elmo
Donald and Jean
came all the way from Oklahoma City to be with us
for the second year in a row!
Gary and Betty, Jack and Jo, Joe and Patty, Jim and Denise, Rick
Unlike some tables, we were very well-behaved thanks to our
Quiet Table: Gary
and Ana, Julie and Omar, Sallie and Jeff in back
Mack and Amy, Beth and Jack in front. Nary a peep from
Blockus Table: Sam, Lisa and Tim,
Phyllis, Susan in back,
Nancy on the corner, Gerry (Ms Peekaboo), and Teresa in front
Not Quite Ready for
Prime Time: Don, Ed, Andy, Sherry, Joanne, Mary, and Tracy
Angel or Devil?
By the way, nothing
I said about Sherry is remotely true except that she is a
Now Tracy on the
when I said Tracy was a born troublemaker,
I meant it.
The Difference Between Single and Double
think any story I write about the Bahamas Trip will make complete
sense unless I can find a way to explain the difference between a
Single Person's approach to the cruise versus a Double Person's approach
to the cruise
Marla, I have taken 19 cruises. On 18 of those cruises I was a
"Double", another way of saying the word "couple" or "married".
Remember, you don't have to necessarily be married these days to be
a couple. I know some couples who have been together longer
than most married people. For example, Patty and Joe.
On only one
cruise - 2001 - was I single. And I was single on that cruise
for less than six hours before I permanently became a double. I
was pretty much married to Marla after the third Margarita.
But that's another story.
The point I
am getting at is that as a married guy, I took one look at the
statue in Key West and all I could see was instant danger. One
look accompanied by an inadvertent smile and I might become burned
toast for the rest of the day.
Oddly enough, I wasn't nearly as interested in the nudity as I was
by my realization there was some nervy guy laying
down on the ground staring up at their private parts. I was
mesmerized by the gall of that man. I thought to myself, "That
guy is DEFINITELY not here with a date, girlfriend, or wife."
Believe me, if I tried laying in that same spot, my wife would
follow through on those death threats and I would be overboard
before the trip was over. I am convinced there is a subtle
message underlying all those murder movies Marla watches. I am
convinced Marla watches those shows for the wrong reasons. She knows
more about how to commit murder and get away with it than is good
for my health. This woman would have had Columbo spinning in
Fortunately for me, I understand the meaning the word 'consequences'
all too well. I simply took the obligatory tourist picture
of the naked statues and moved on.
And for safety's sake, I made certain not to show THE
SLIGHTEST BIT OF INTEREST in the statuesque statues. I am no
I figured I
would just check out the pictures later in the safety of my office.
After all, it is art appreciation, yes? I love art. Those
French artists are my heroes... they had the perfect ploy to
persuade countless women to take off their clothes.
A few weeks
after the trip, one day Smarty Marty Life of the Party sent me his pictures.
As I opened up my email, I gasped when I saw Marty had been
photographed in the Forbidden Pose. My
did Marty get the guts to have that picture taken? And
that's when I remembered that Marty was "Single". I started to
of this particular section is to make it clear that two men might see
the same statues, but will react in completely different ways
depending on their relationship status. The man who
is double has
the sense to stay one hundred yards away and take a snapshot without
feigning the slightest bit of interest.
The man who
sees the statues, runs to to the naked women as fast as he possibly can,
and then plops
himself down on the grass to enjoy the view.
friends, is the difference between single and double.
are single on a cruise can make complete fools of themselves any time
they wish with a minimum of consequences. Just ask Marty.
On the other hand, men who
are double on a cruise just try to survive. A man never knows
when a dangerous situation
like the naked statues will present itself.
Married men have to be on guard at all times and learn to walk that tightrope.
matter, I am sure that women have to walk that same fine line as
well. I guess I am guilty of assuming women are naturally
better at it than men.
This statue at Key West is a public menace.
It serves as a potential deathtrap for any happily married man.
By the way, check out the guy on the ground staring up at the naked women.
the Look of Love? Probably something different than Love.
I will say one thing, he's got a lot of nerve.
Is that Smarty Marty Life of the Party flaunting his Singleness?
Now there are two guys
staring up at the naked women.
But wait... isn't the second man the same guy as in the first picture?
Sophomore Slump for the What
the Hell Table
Last year's winner of the coveted "Most Rowdy Table" was the
infamous What the Hell Gang.
Whenever I use the word "rowdy", my mind races to
Velma. The word was probably invented for her.
Last year Velma was the undisputed Captain of the "Rowdiest
Table" imaginable. I have never seen any woman stir up
more noise than Velma!
Last year Marla put together a table of nine single people who
didn't know each other from Adam. No matter.
Velma took them under her wing and taught them how to
misbehave. Velma had them yapping incessantly.
Yak Yak Yak.
That was the noisiest, rowdiest darn table in history!
They were so loud sometimes the highly intelligent
conversation at my table had to come to a complete halt till
those raving maniacs settled down for a moment or two.
Thank God for their need to breathe or they never would have
the process, these nine strangers became a fearsome
trouble-making unit complete with a catchy nickname for
their Table - the "What the Hell" Gang. Thanks to all
that noise, they were an easy choice for "Rowdiest Table".
They were strangers last year, but a united team this year.
infamous "What the Hell" Gang from last year's trip came
back almost intact for this year's trip. Led by the charismatic Velma, 8 of the
9 members from the same table on our 2009 Cruise signed
up again. That's a pretty amazing total!
Given last year's track record, naturally I expected a
repeat performance this year. All they had to do was
replace one spot on the roster for the person who didn't
return and fill the empty seat from last year.
Filling the missing
chair was easy. Carol had acquired a handsome new
boyfriend named Jim. That solved one problem. But
what about the other spot? Velma asked
Marla if there was anyone out there with potential.
Marla replied there was a man in her Pre-Cruise Dance Class
who had a lot of enthusiasm. Velma nodded. She
was in that class too and knew exactly who Marla was
referring to. And that's how Velma got draft rights to
have to hand it to Marla and Velma. They know how to
spot the right guy. Dave would not only become the trip's Rookie of the Year,
he even acquired a really clever nickname -
Lobster Boy Dave. Good job, Dave!
Oddly enough, the
What the Hell Gang had a sophomore slump on this year's trip.
For example, I can't find a single group picture of this year's "What
the Hell" Gang. Last year you couldn't get the
cameras to stop clicking.
Everybody knows that after reaching the pinnacle, it is
tough to repeat the next year. It is so hard to get
that adrenaline pumping again! Velma did her level
best, but after
winning "Rowdiest Table" last year, this time everyone settled down.
I have a theory what went wrong. Half of the table coupled up!
Everyone knows that singles misbehave at a far greater rate
For example, last year Lisa and Gene
were wild singles who didn't know each other. This
year they were a quiet couple. Last year, Mark and Roberta
were wild singles. This year they were a quiet couple.
Last year Carol was a wild single. This year she
brought her boyfriend Jim. And he is naturally
quiet, so Carol became quiet too.
Only Susan and Edward and Velma managed to
Cupid's Arrows. All three plus Lobster Boy Dave did
their best to create mischief, but let's face it, as a rule,
on these cruises it is the Wild Singles who misbehave while
Boring couples go 'tsk tsk tsk' and live in fear of the dog
The Wild Singles at Velma's table were outnumbered by the
Tiskers six to four, so the antics were
understandably more muted this year. But don't blame
Dave. If it wasn't for Lobster Boy, this table
wouldn't have even been in the game.
The Look of Love? Definitely. Everyone loves Velma,
Captain of the What the Hell Gang
The Look of Love? Quite
From what I gather,
the Single Guys had it good on this trip. For example,
David's Lobster Boy status didn't hurt his popularity one bit.
No, that is
definitely not the Look of Love. And why is this
She is being attacked by Lobster Boy
Now it is time for another case study in the difference between Single and
Study the pictures of
these three totally contented 2010 What the Hell Couples.
Now compare the 2010
picture of Mark and Roberta to the 2009 picture of Mark and Roberta
taken during the formative
stages of their relationship.
In 2010, they are the
epitome of respectability and decorum.
In 2009, they are both
whispering something naughty. Is that the Look of Love?
Well, sort of. Actually I think I would call it something
But you get the point,
Singles and Doubles
behave differently .
Now you know why poor
Velma had nothing to work with in 2010. Her team deserted her
to chase contentment. How selfish! So much for the
Rowdiest Table Award.
Rick and Marla Make the Team!
whether they win the championship or not, I still love the "What the
Hell" Gang. I complained about all the noise they made last
year, but secretly I envied them for all the fun they were having.
Did you know that Marla and I are now considered official "What the
Hell" Gang members? Yes, it's true. But first we had to
pass a difficult initiation ritual.
kind enough to invite Marla and myself out to dinner at Ninfa's the
night before the cruise with the Gang. We met up with Velma,
Susan, Carol, Jim, Mark, and Roberta for margaritas and the inside
scoop on everyone's love life.
thing I knew, Velma said that I was now one of her peeps and that I
was now officially in the club. I was really flattered, but
curious too. I asked Velma what I had done to deserve such a
smiled and replied I had managed to drink three margaritas without
passing out. That made me her kind of guy.
That makes the second time in my life that three margaritas have
played an important role.
The Look of Love? Most definitely. Our wonderful marriage is
a lasting testament
to the power of Tequila applied at just the right time.
time of course was back on the 2001 Cruise.
the Trip when one night I plied my future wife Marla with margaritas
in a desperate attempt to render her vulnerable to my charms
(by the way, if you haven't read the story of how
Rick and Marla met, it is actually a pretty interesting
Regarding my liberal use of margaritas as a way to
open Marla's eyes a bit, my conscience on this issue is clear.
Marla had not paid a single solitary bit of attention to me for over
six months, I needed all the help I could get. Sick of being
ignored, thank goodness my underhanded ploy worked. Those
margaritas were the best investment of my entire life.
To this day, Marla continues to cringe every time I bring that
story up. If pressed, Marla will admit she was surprised when
I began to seem interesting after one margarita. If pressed
further, she will confess I began to look cute after two margaritas.
But I doubt she will ever admit that the third margarita rendered
her completely defenseless.
What the Hell!
Mara's Volleyball Table
Don't they look charming? Don't let that fool you.
When you study the picture of Mara's Table, it may not be obvious due to the
tuxedos and the elegant
gowns, but every person at
that table is a volleyball assassin.
What the Hell Gang is special because they
started as complete strangers last year and became a team
overnight. The Volleyball Table has been
with us for several years now. These people have
histories together going all the way back to 2002. The
uniting feature of this table are the lasting friendships
formed over many previous trips. Except for Liana, the
rookie, all of these people have memories
going back several cruises.
every successful table, there is usually one
definite leader even though that leader would modestly deny
it was him or her. In my opinion, Mara was the "Velma" of
her "Volleyball Table". This table really clicked.
There was constant laughter and positive energy that came
from this group all trip long.
and Marla first became friends on the 2002 Rhapsody
Cruise. Mara had such a good time on that trip that she would go on to
sign up for seven more cruises during the 2000s.
the process, Mara became an important leader within our
Marla and I soon discovered, Mara is a born hostess.
Mara loves to entertain. For example, over the years Mara is
known and much appreciated for her lavish Christmas Parties
at her home.
Mara's husband Bruce was on that same 2002 Cruise as well,
but they didn't connect on that trip. It would be five more years until the stars would align
and they would fall in love.
Mara's 2008 marriage to Bruce resulted in a beautiful home
in the Briar Forest area west of Beltway 8. Now that
she had a lovely swimming pool and a larger home, Mara was
able to expand her operation. Throughout the year, Mara and Bruce began to
host some pretty wonderful parties for the friends they had
met through the dance studio and the cruise trips.
I can now reveal that Mara had a hidden motive.
Although the world knows her as the gracious hostess, her
real reason for throwing those parties was to scout for new
Volleyball talent. You see, the
main event at all of Mara's get-togethers is a vicious game
of water volleyball. Invariably the guests are told to
get in the pool and play volleyball whether they want to or
not. It is almost impossible to refuse. The peer
pressure is almost unbearable.
I always find Mara's volleyball preoccupation fascinating.
Mara was once
terrified of the water thanks to a near-drowning
incident when she was a child. Obviously Mara has made
a lot of progress with
her fears because she is now the deadliest water volleyball
player of all. Every day at home she spends an hour
practicing her lethal serve. Mara has become the
ultimate water volleyball warrior. Personally
speaking, it is very embarrassing to admit this, but I am
terrified when she gets ready to serve her guided missiles.
Each person has a different role on the team. For
example, it was at Mara's parties that Marsha acquired
her incredible Margarita-making skills which led to her
perfect nickname Marsharita. It turned out that
some people were reluctant to play. However, once they
had a Marsharita Margarita in them, their willpower to
resist was gone. Some put on swim suits, some didn't
even bother. Off came their clothes
and into the swimming pool they went whether they wanted to
or not. The next thing they knew, Mara was aiming
missiles at them. It was learn to play or get hit in
the head and drown. Tough crowd.
Some of these people seem like nerds and wimps in real life,
but that is just an act. They are trying to lull you
into complacency. Trust me, once these people disrobe
and the ball is in the air, they turn into natural born
As you can see from the pictures, these
people are true Beach Gods and Goddesses who worship nothing
else but the
When it comes to Volleyball, the star of the team is none
other than Mr. Handsome. Mr. Handsome's volleyball
ability is the stuff of legend. With his lightning
quick reflexes and dashing good looks, Mr. Handsome was born
to play the role of Volleyball Champion.
the way, has George been working out or is he just sucking
his tummy in? And check out the tan on Mr. Handsome. Not bad, George!!
Looking pretty good out there. Wasn't that clever of
to find a couple of palefaces to stand next to him to make his tan even more
Over the years, Handsome and I have formed a brutal
volleyball rivalry. For the most part, the series has
been even. However, last year Mr. Handsome's team
defeated my team handsomely. The bitter memory still stings.
Here's the funny part. Can you believe they had the
nerve to take this pretend picture like they had just beaten
my team? What a bunch of sissies. No one ever
said a word to me that day. All they had to do was say, "Yo Rick, Game On, Bro!" and I
am right there. Not one person bothered to tell me there was a
game. That's because they wanted to take this fantasy
In case you can't figure it out for yourself, these people
are baiting me.
Judging by those smug smiles, they obviously thought
they would end up crushing me. Humbug. I am not afraid. For the record, I will
take on George and Mara's team any place any time.
Trust me, I'll catch up to them next year.
- Mara and Bruce, Andy, Mona, Steve, Vivian,
Liana, Charley, Marsharita, Mr. Handsome George, and Rowena.
Looks like Mara and Handsome are Sun Tan All Stars as well.
One reason these
people are so good is they practice constantly!! Look at
their perfect form and powerful concentration. They will
be tough to beat next year.
Whether it is water
volleyball or sand volleyball, these people are fanatics.
Thank goodness their wore their swimsuits on this public beach.
At Mara's house they usually train in the nude.
Is this the most
obnoxious picture you have ever seen?
Flapper and Zoot Suit Night
From what I
gather, Flapper Night was the inspiration of my friend Charley.
At first I
rolled my eyes and thought this was a pretty silly idea.
the night unfolded on the cruise, I got a huge kick out of it.
problem is that
1) I don't
have a group photograph of all the Flappers and Zoot Suits together.
2) I don't
have a story. Don't these people know how to "Finish"?
idea as clever as this deserves to be told properly. Don't ask
me to write it; I have absolutely no inside knowledge of the thrills
and spills of the evening. So I challenge the group to produce
a tale of Flapper Night on the cruise.
meantime, I would like to acknowledge my buddy "Superfly" Richard for having
the nerve to wear that striking purple Zoot Suit in public.
might imagine, Richard stuck out like a lighthouse on a dark night.
But look - his outfit turned him into a Babe Magnet!
another example of how the world was upside down on our Bahamas
The Look of Love? I'm
not sure, but the girls are definitely smiling and that's always
a good start.
Like I said, the
Single Guys had it good on this trip.
Normally you would assume a Purple Pimp Suit would raise an
eyebrow or two,
but on this trip, Richard was the very definition of a
like to thank Joan for contributing this picture of her table.
I sent out a letter asking people to contribute pictures for me to
include in my stories, but only 20 out of 190 responded.
People assume I can keep tabs on everyone. Actually I barely
have a clue what goes on. There are just too many stories and
too much mischief to
keep track of... the No Flapper Story problem is the perfect example. So I happily accept any help I can get.
By the way,
the pretty lady in the blue dress is Jazzy Joan. Besides Joan,
Peggy was another leader at this table (Peggy is in
the picture, but you can barely see her). Joan and Peggy kept
this table buzzing all trip long.
Neither Peggy nor Joan is a troublemaker or instigator like some of
the other aforementioned hussies. But they are
definitely leaders. They are full of energy and usually at the
center of all action on the cruise. You can always find them
near the dance floor. After all, both ladies can really dance.
easy to spot on the dance floor because she likes to show off.
In addition to her obvious talent, Joan mixes in some elements of
comedy on the dance floor. For example, Joan put on some
West Coast Swing exhibitions with her buddy Gary Windjammer that had
the spectators mesmerized.
Peggy Sue is in Joan's league as a dancer, but Peggy prefers not to
draw attention. Peggy is more the "smooth operator" type.
Incidentally, Joan and Peggy are not the only talented dancers at
this table. Iqbal can definitely hold his own on the dance
floor as can his pretty friend Ann.
After watching Ed and Larry on the floor, I noticed they have picked
up an impressive array of dance moves along the way. In fact
everyone at the table is a veteran dancer. Wayne, John and
Jenny are excellent dancers as well.
add that Linda, who was missing from the group picture, helps Gary
Windjammer teach Night Club. Since I took that class, I can
attest to her ability as well.
I don't know if these people can play Volleyball, but this table
would be a strong contender in any dance contest between the tables.
would be interesting to watch!
The Dancers Table: Iqbal, Ann, Wayne, John, Jenny, Ed,
Zorro, Peggy, Larry
Peggy, Linda, and Wayne.
The All About Me
This is a story about the destructive power of "Egos".
of the great mysteries of this trip is the absence of a
single photo of one of my favorite tables. The members
of this mystery table included Karl, Deborah, Joel, Kristi Fuzzball,
Chris, Eurindia, Maite, Penney, Carolyn, and Sandra.
problem is that unless the reader was on the trip, they
don't have a clue who these people are. Don't you
agree a group picture would help?
I don't have a picture to share.
Here is what is weird about the Missing Table. Karl
sent me pictures. Kristi sent me pictures. Joel
sent me pictures. Maite sent me pictures.
In fact, more people sent me pictures from
this table than any other single table... but not
one picture was a group shot of the people at their table!
What conclusions can we draw from this? Were these
people ashamed of their table? Were they upset their
table didn't have a cool nickname or a unique identity?
Were they ashamed that their table lacked chemistry?
Were they boring?
none of those explanations are likely. I have my own
Practically every person at that table was a STAR on this
trip. Each person was busy jockeying for their own slice of
personal glory and that extra helping of publicity. As
veteran cruisers, they knew their antics would be documented
in the cruise writeup. They only sent pictures of themselves
because they didn't want any of the other people at their
table impinging on their growing fame.
These people were solo acts, not team players. They
pretended to like one another, but I wonder if it was
all just an act. I think some of the members of this
table only cared about their own personal reputation.
Mind you, I even tried to give them a second chance. I
liked the people at this table so much that I went to
the trouble to write personal letters to two
of the people at this
table asking for help. No luck. They completely ignored me.
So for that reason, I have decided to name this the "All
About Me" Table.
be honest, there were other tables missing in action.
In fact, as I looked over Marla's seating chart, I saw
that THIRTEEN TABLES out of 24 failed to send me a group
picture of their table (please do send one if you get
The difference between the "All About Me" table and the
others is that this group clearly understood the importance
of "Publicity". The other tables were not attention
seekers like this group and didn't know any better.
But the omission here was glaring because these people all
knew the Game.
Since this is an article about "Tables",
not "Individuals", this table missed the boat. Sorry, but this is a
Snooze You Lose situation. It's too late now. I
have permanently reassigned the space
originally meant for this group to a bunch of hussies.
those hussies know how to play nice together.
Girls Just Want to
These ladies would like to thank the All About Me Table
for making this space available so they could show the world
how pretty their shoes are. See what nice team players they are?
More on the "All About Me"
A note from Karl in response to Rick's story above:
Subject: The table of egos, and other tales
In regards to your story about my "All About Me" table, I
regret that it will be difficult to get a picture of our
After looking through all my pictures (Deb and I shared her
camera), Joel's pictures and Kristi's pictures, none of us
took a picture of the entire table. I haven't seen Maite's
pictures, so she might have something hidden up her sleeve.
Fortunately, I did find a good picture of the table (amongst
Gareld's pictures), and in a sense it does tell one of the
stories of the table.
You may have noticed that Penney, Carolyn, Deb and I aren't
in the picture. (Neither is Chris, but he's just outside the
shot to the right.)
That's because our table was a popular spot for people to
visit, and latecomers usually found the table full by the
time they arrived. On that particular night, Deb and I had
joined Joe and Amber after discovering the table was full.
To the best of my recollection, the only time we had the
original group was on the first night. Since nobody was
consistently tardy, nobody was consistently bumped.
Here is the picture that Karl submitted.
In my opinion, this
is the single worst picture of a "Table" I have ever
I contend that
EVERYTHING I said about this table holds true. No one at
this table wanted another person to get the slightest bit of
Listen, there is no
"I" in "Table" either. Having a good table involves
teamwork, something these glory hounds have no concept of.
The Cork and Screw Table
This particular table was disreputable. It was
populated by Single People who behaved terribly.
However, I think they could care less what I think.
They were naughty. They were bad. And they had a
great time. So what about it?
ringleader was Smarty Marty Life of the Party. This is
supposed to be a secret, but I can now reveal that back at
home Marty was being treated by a leading psychiatrist for
his inability to censor the slightest naughty thought.
From what I gather about Marty's condition, no matter what
terrible thing enters his mind, Marty blurts it out before
he can stop and ask himself whether this is an appropriate
thing to say in polite company.
Although Marty cannot be blamed for the terrible incident
that gave this table its name and bad reputation, I do think
it is his fault for creating a climate where people could
say the most terrible things with complete impunity.
where exactly did the table's shocking name come from? On the first
day of the trip, one of the ladies at the table had driven
down on the Magic Party Bus. Hours later when dinner
started, she was still smashed out of her mind.
Marty casually mentioned that he had brought a bottle of
wine aboard that he intended to share with the girls.
The lady in question blurted out, "Gee, do you have a
cork and screw for that bottle? I could really use
Smarty Marty, Nina, Valerie,
Sylvia, Richard Superfly , Karen, Rose, Lila.
And which lady uttered the immortal words? I'll never
tell, but I bet Marty will.
Fun Table Wins the highly coveted "2010 Rowdiest Table"
have always believed the Coveted "Rowdiest Table" Award
should go to people who misbehave because badness is
something that comes natural.
If I followed
this criterion, then the terribly rotten "Cork and Screw"
Table would have been the hand's down winners this year for
Rowdiest Table. They were bad without giving any thought
being rewarded or complimented for their poor behavior.
They were bad for its own sake.
Alas, the "Cork
and Screw" Table ran up against a group of organized
attention seekers who
elevated behaving badly to an art form. It was
amateurs versus cold-blooded professionals. The "Fun Table"
actually planned ahead of time how to be bad!
How cynical can you get?
It is one thing to be an obnoxious attention seeker when the
person is unaware of what they are doing, but to
deliberately don the persona of an obnoxious attention
seeker is something completely different. People should be bad because
they don't know any better and they are clueless about how
poorly they are behaving. There should be a sincerity
to their efforts.
these people. They only acted "bad" because they wanted everyone
notice them wherever they went!!! That's right, it was
just an Act. They weren't sincerely bad; they were
a bunch a phonies pretending to be bad!!
irritating, they set me up.
They knew I was going to write something about them.
And they didn't care what I said just as long as it was
about them. That just isn't right. I hate being
so easily manipulated, but they knew me too well and played
me. They knew I couldn't resist
writing about them. I became their dupe, their
tool. THEY USED ME!!
Take this picture for
Can you believe they had the nerve to wear matching goofy hats
in public? And matching "Fun Table" buttons?
And look at the grin on
those people. They know this picture is going to make
the cruise writeup. They are thinking, "Ha ha ha, look
how cute we are!"
Every time I walked by, they would
shamelessly yell, "Yoo hoo, hey Rick, come over here
our picture! Look at us, we are unbearably wonderful!"
And each time I would pretend I didn't hear them.
I can't believe they got Steve Gabino to take their picture.
I told him specifically to ignore them. What is the world coming to?
Doesn't anyone listen to me?
I have one question.
Can you tell who the ringleader was? Just look at
those faces. I bet there is not one person who won't
get this right.
So Who are These Nuts?
shouldn't tell you this, but SSQQ played a big part in the
romances of all six of these escapees from the loony bin.
Keith and Betty Baker are on the left. They met elsewhere,
but credit SSQQ for nudging them toward the altar back in
Bette Polishak and Tom Huddleston are in the middle.
They met at SSQQ and got engaged in 2007.
Keith and Penny Patterson are on the right. They met
at SSQQ and were married in 2009.
Along the way, all three couples decided they liked each
other. At the time, I thought it was neat to see these
couples all hang out together. Obviously I never
realized their friendship would come back to haunt me.
How the Fun Table was Created
Story written by Keith
One night before the
cruise three couples - Keith & Betty Baker, Tom Huddleston &
Bette Polishak, as well as Penny and I - got
together at Wild West .
We danced a little, had a couple beers and began to chat
about the upcoming cruise. That's when we decided to brainstorm
some fun for our cruise.
We figured if we were
going to be on the Fun Ship, then we should have
a "Fun Table" (Bette's idea), complete with our own Fun
There would be four different
"Fun Nights" in the Conquest Main Dining Room
1. "Pink Boa &
2. "60's Night"
3. "Hawaiian Night"
4. "White Night"
We knew we would have four other
people at our table who would not be up to speed. But
we assumed with patience and training and loving communication,
they would soon become one of us.
Sure enough, after a couple of nights at dinner, our other four
tablemates, Don and Jean Taylor, Robert Friske and
Rachel Martin, were able to achieve Fun Table status.
We were so proud of them for their accomplishment
that we awarded them their very own Fun Table Buttons.
Robert in particular was overcome. For a
second, I thought he was about to get emotional. I was
pleased to see he cared so much about this honor.
Our "60's Night" was really a hoot...the Filipino rock 'n
roll band playing before dinner in the Casino
was grooving to our groovyness. Peace signs were flashed by
the band, and the casino patrons,
and the bar patrons, and us right back at them. The
Love Generation was back thanks to us. Joy to the
We were so flattered
that people would ask to
have their pictures taken with us in the lobbies. We
felt just like celebrities and basked in our groovyness.
Our "White Night" was aided immensely by
our Fun Group having
participated in a Disco Dance
class in the main showroom during the day. Our Fun
Group of course was the center of attention throughout the
class as we should be.
When we showed up
for the SSQQ private party that
evening, it was totally unplanned that Steve Gabino would
play a couple of 70's disco songs. I believe our Fun Table
consciousness had linked us with him on a higher plane and Steve was now one with
the Fun Consciousness that permeated the spirit of
When Steve played the Bee Gees, it was a signal from the
we were meant to dance our routine to the music and to share
our inspiration with the Sisters, Lovers, and Water Brothers
who joined us in the Disco that night.
From the inspired applause that we received, I gather that we were wonderful. That doesn't
surprise me in the least.
the way, since our appearance was totally unplanned, none of
us were able to foresee the need to bring along a video
Therefore, if anyone in the audience was able to record
footage of our magnificent performance, I would be so
thrilled if they would share it with us.
pictures would be appreciated as well. If you can
help, just contact our publicist Rick Archer and he will get
you in touch with us. In return, we promise to give
you a "Fun Table" pin and award you honorary status as
last thing - if any of you wish to join our Fun Table Fan Club, be
sure to let Rick know. I am hoping he will set up a
web site for us soon.
Thank you all so much, your friend in world unity, Keith Patterson
Keith and Penny
Patterson, Betty and Keith Baker, Bette and Tom
Here is a 2009 picture of Keith before his transformation. Now
that I see this picture again, yes, I can tell the potential was always
this the Look of Love? No, not really.
This look reminds me of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The one in pink was the mastermind.
That woman is a Genius.
Rick Archer's Note:
guess in retrospect I am more jealous than anything else
that these six people would so unabashedly seek attention
and behave outrageously for the sheer pleasure of it.
always like to think I am a bit of a character myself, but I am
ashamed to admit I can't begin to hold a
candle to these guys.
Good job, Fun Table! No
one can misbehave like you can! I salute your inspired
lunacy and your shameless attempts to seek glory at every
opportunity. You have set the
standard for SSQQ Cruise Insanity. This might be a record that
will never be broken.
One last thing.
Before I conclude this story, I would like to draw a comparison
between last year's dynamic Rowdy Table Winners and this year's
Rowdy Table Winners.
You have to understand
that the Fun Table completely broke the mold. To understand
what I am getting at, we have to explore the dynamic of Single
Versus Double one more time.
Check out the 2009
picture of Keith Baker above. In that picture, he is behaving
like a typical Boring Double Guy. Now compare 2009 Keith to
the picture of 2010 Keith. Here Keith is behaving like a
bizarre Wild and Crazy Single guy. Totally different person!
Check out the dynamic 2009 What
the Hell Gang back in their prime.
This picture was taken before they all turned into a
bunch of soft, comfy and contented
They lost their edge.
I have always assumed
that the Coveted Rowdiest Table Award would automatically go to a
Wild and Crazy Singles Table. Indeed, before the
cruise started, I would have put my money on a repeat performance
from the proven What the Hell Gang or a dark horse like Smarty Marty Life
of the Party and his Cork and Screw Table.
What the Fun Table has
done is rewrite the rules. They have proved BEYOND THE SHADOW OF A
DOUBT that a bunch of old fat lazy moldy married people can still
kick ass. In the process they taught the Wild and Crazy Singles a lesson in how to
misbehave on a cruise trip.
They did it through inspiration and team effort. No "All About
Me" with these guys. It was All for One and One for All.
Indeed, if I were a Single Person on this Trip,
I would be ashamed of myself for letting some old fat married people
steal a honor which should rightfully permanently belong to the
Domain of the Wild Singles.
As an old fat lazy moldy married man myself, I am grateful to
Fun Table. They may be escapees from the loony bin, but
my kind of people.
At first I couldn't
believe they were such desperate attention seekers, but after I saw
what they were up to was a coordinated effort, I changed my mind.
Now I saw them as brilliant attention seekers. They had
figured out a way to be goofier than anyone else.
Now I consider the Fun
Table group to be an
inspiration to all the Stuck in a Rut Doubles on this Trip.
They have taught us Double People a lesson. We don't have to
be permanently dormant after all. We too can misbehave!
I hope another Double Team wins
the award again next year!! Maybe even my team!!
Thank you, Fun Table, for opening my eyes.
Singing the Doghouse Blues
Yes, in case you are curious, there is a definitely a dog house on
cruise ships too. Just one wrong word behind too much wine and a man might just find
out the real purpose of the Balcony is much different than his
made many trips to the cruise ship doghouse, but I did make one on
this particular trip. Marla and I had a disagreement on how to
handle giving away an extra cabin that had come available. You
might think this is a trivial issue... and yes it is... but when
handled the wrong way, it's back to the balcony.
I have seen
one example after another of cruise trip bad boys one year who take
a trip the following year with a female companion along. These
guys are so tame and boring I swear I can almost see the invisible
leash and dog collar.
Mr. Handsome is the perfect example. When George is single, I
swear the guy is a human highlight film. No one knows how to
get the cameras clicking faster than George. But when George
is double, he disappoints me terribly because he refuses to say or
do anything even remotely interesting. George traveled
"single" this year. Not surprisingly, he was in one picture
after another... and usually with a different lady on his arm.
never quite understood the dynamic, but judging from how docile most
"accompanied" men seem to be on our cruises, women appear to be even
more powerful at sea than back on land.
A rogue wave hits a cruise
ship, flips it over, everyone drowns and goes to heaven.
God says, "I want the men to make two lines. Make one line for
the men that dominated their women at sea and make another other
line for the men that were dominated by their women."
God waited for a moment and then looked at the two lines.
The line of the men that were dominated by their women was miles
long, and in the line of men that dominated their women, there
was only one man.
God became angry and said, "You men should be ashamed of
yourselves. I created you in my own image, but made the mistake
of giving you free will. Now ever since that damn Eve, I see
that every last one of you were all whipped by your mates."
Now God sees a solitary man in the other line and a smile
came over his face. "Behold the one man on that cruise ship who
stood up and made me proud. You guys can learn from him!
Tell them, my son, how did you manage to be the only one in this
The man replied, "I don't know, God, my wife didn't
understand your directions and told me to stand here."
particular, men who cruise with a significant other quickly to learn
to keep their mouth shut at all times and keep their hands to
themselves in the hot tub... or else they soon learn where the dog
house is located in the cabin.
the balcony or the couch, but after one especially bitter argument,
one man said he got to sleep on the bathroom floor. He said he
had to sleep like a pretzel. He was so sore the next day he
had to relearn how to walk. No, it wasn't me, but for $5 I'll
tell you who it was. Another man reported sleeping on the
floor in a different cabin with two of his buddies after a
existence of the dog house at sea is the single main reason that tables
with lots of "couples" never win the Rowdiest Table Award.
The risks involved with behaving like the Life of the Party being
what they are, most men tend to be overly cautious on board.
After all, with hundreds of eyes everywhere, it is almost impossible
to do anything naughty and go unnoticed.
Now that I
have explained why a Table full of couples has virtually no chance
of winning "Rowdiest Table", this year's Fun Table opened my eyes
with a slam dunk victory. Suddenly three men who I thought
were in permanent Married Zombie status rose up and misbehaved like
they were Mr. Handsome in his heyday. Shocked, I began to ask
myself, "How did a bunch of Double Guys get away with behaving like
this on a cruise trip?"
So I went
back and reviewed my article on the Fun Table once more. My
eyes stopped when I read this sentence.
"We figured if we were
going to be on the Fun Ship, then we should have
a "Fun Table", complete with our very own Fun
Table Buttons (Bette's idea)."
my answer. The men misbehaved because the women told them to.
Check out the cruise
ship dog house.
George is always so much
more fun when he comes on these trips alone...
Apparently the phenomenon
of men dominated by their women
extends to the King of Beasts as well.