STUPID THING TO SAY
Have you ever said something that had an
innocent meaning, but taken
out of context doesn't sound very good?
It was Magic and Music's night off in the
Atrium. So Jim and Denise Duncan joined Marla and I in a
ship wide search for another dance venue. The four of
us finally settled down in Alfred's Lounge.
Here we began listening to a six piece jazz band.
They didn't provide any vocals, but they
proved to be good musicians. I liked what I heard.
advertised as a "Swing Band",
so Marla and I got up and tried Swing dancing. That is
when I learned the
hard way that they played
their music too fast and too long. They
also liked to do solos where one person played and the other five
sat in quiet admiration. That really stretched out the
songs! Other than that, their music had a good
beat. If you had a marathoner's
endurance, you could even dance to
Marla and I tried one more song. The problem
with dancing to fast music is you wear out
reached the four minute mark to this
second song and it seemed like
there was still no end in sight. I asked Marla if she minded if we
sat down. Not at all. I guess Jim and Denise came to the
same conclusion because they sat down just after we did.
The next two songs were also very long. Then came a song
that was a bit slower. I immediately asked Denise to
dance. Not wishing to be committed to dancing all the way
through what might turn out to be another eight minute song, I
remarked aloud, "C'mon, Denise, let's
go have some fun. I think
I am good for three minutes." It never quite dawned
on me how that statement might sound to other people, say
Jim, Marla, and Denise for example.
Little did I know they were saving this nugget for later.
It wasn't until dinner the next night that I got teased
about it. I had just excused myself to go
speak to another table when the three of them spoke at once,
"Oh, do you have another 3 minutes of fun planned?"
I was amazed at the ambush. I immediately blushed and stuttered, "You knew
what I meant, didn't you?" Gleeful to see me so flustered,
the three of them kept it going for a while. They had quite
a bit of fun at my expense.
Jim and Marla
George Sargent is an SSQQ Hall of Fame
Cruiser. This year's trip was his sixth SSQQ Dance
Cruise in a row. George first came to my attention on the 2004 trip
to Mardi Gras. He had so much fun on that trip that he
signed up for the 2004 Summer Dance Cruise as well.
Using hot tub skills he had developed during the Mardi Gras
Trip, George became the life of the party on the 2004 Summer
Dance Cruise. In fact, George was a very bad boy on that trip.
That is the trip when George first teamed up with his
counterpart in crime Phyllis
"Trouble" Porter. Phyllis helped George get into more
trouble than any normal person can ever comprehend.
George packed more misbehavior into
that one trip than any other single person in the history of
our Cruise Trips. I can't write any further.
Without the pictures, anything I say is fairly meaningless.
Therefore, in order to truly understand the complexities of
Being George, you should definitely should read that story
before you continue here.
The Final Chapter: The Incredible Tale of Mr. Handsome
Last year (2008) George staged his greatest hot-tub stuffing events
ever, but I was so preoccupied with the headaches that I
didn't even notice.
That was then; this is now. Things were kind of quiet
this year, so I hoped for another human highlight reel of
mischief. This way I could have something fun to write
about and my trip wouldn't seem 'boring'.
soon discovered George is nowhere near as much fun as he
used to be. George once had sizzle, now he is mostly fizzle.
He didn't want to get into any trouble at all!
Let's face it; this year George had a
As the Founding Father of
the Hot Tub Olympics and the holder of the Guinness Record for
most people in a hot tub (45), George was totally unable to
organize any serious hot tub stuffing on this year's trip.
When Phyllis Porter learned of his difficulties, our
erstwhile Troublemaker immediately pointed out that George
was helpless on this trip without her. She said this proves that all the
credit for George's hot tub stuffing glories should go to
her instead. Ouch!
George didn't show a whole lot of
interest in dancing either. Our first group dance lesson
involved learning Foxtrot. From past experience, I assumed
the ship's orchestra would be playing Big Band music at the
evening event known as The Captain's Reception.
George showed up for the lesson and dutifully
went through the motions to a dance he wasn't remotely interested in.
Unfortunately, that night the band didn't play a single
Foxtrot. They just stayed with Swing and Slow Dance
The next morning I asked George if he would participate in
my "Barn Dance" class. Barn Dance
is my term for the six group dances we use at parties like
the Honky Tonk Waltz, the Virginia Reel, and the San Antonio
Stroll. I told George we needed every available
man to help balance the boy-girl ratio. George
looked at me like I was crazy. He said, "Why
should I show up? You can't trick me twice. When am I ever going to use those
dances? You promised
me that Foxtrot would be useful and they didn't play one
single Foxtrot. Besides, I'm not available. I
have a girlfriend along. I'll tell you what; if my girlfriend
tells me to be there, then I will show up."
In the old days, George had a mind of his own. That
was then; this was now.
George did actually show up... with an invisible leash
around the neck held by the girlfriend. There's
your explanation for his appearance right there. Unfortunately George did
not participate. We were having loads of fun out
there, but all George did was cross his arms & watch. Mr.
George's trip wasn't all bad. I suppose I should admit that
my sand volleyball team got soundly licked by George's
volleyball team in Cozumel this year.
We didn't just get beat, we got sand
kicked in our faces.
Last year was a different story.
On last year's cruise, my team which included Gary Catalan
and Jim Duncan won a very narrow victory. Unfortunately,
neither guy wanted to play this year and
defend the honor of our team. I took this as a bad
omen. At the same time, several players from George's team,
in particular John Hall and Joel Konkel, were spoiling for a
rematch. They had a very determined look on their face from
The first game was pretty even right up
until the end.
My team (including me) suddenly had trouble getting our
serves in. Consequently
George's team pulled away to eke out
a narrow win 15-12.
In the second game, both sides added players.
However, it was the addition of Veronica Sauceda that proved
to be the turning point. I am not sure Veronica is an
experienced volleyball. In fact, judging by her serve, I
as a complete Beginner.
I therefore assumed Veronica wasn't going
to be a major threat to our success. Stupid me.
The moment Veronica stepped on the court, her team ran off 13 points
in a row. Considering the game only goes
to 15, this match was quite a rout!
Veronica entered the game as the server. Her first
serve went over the nearby cabana. I said give her
another try. The score was tied 2-2 at that point so I
felt magnanimous. Her next serve went in the ocean.
Give her another try. Her third try went awry as well.
So we gave her permission to move closer to the net on her
next serve. To our shock and dismay, not only did her
next serve go over the net, we didn't even lay a hand on it!
The ball hit the sand untouched. Point Veronica. That was
the beginning of the end.
From that point on, we fell apart. Later on, as I analyzed our humiliating collapse, I couldn't figure
out how Veronica had made such a difference.
The moment she showed up, suddenly we
couldn't do anything right. It was
ridiculous how badly my team fell apart (including me).
Veronica made a couple solid plays, but that was hardly
enough to explain 13 straight points. I
decided Veronica's contributions were more intangible
than anything athletic. Now it was
true Veronica was kind of distracting (in a
good way of course). Veronica was
cheerful, giggling, hoppin' and boppin'
and bouncing around from the very start.
She made everyone laugh. I
have to admit with her on the court, there were a couple
times when I wasn't concentrating as hard as I should have.
The fact is, Veronica gave
her team a real lift. But not 13 points
Then it dawned on me. I
suddenly realized there
might be a secret reason we lost so badly. You see,
George's team had seven players. In order to get Veronica in
the game, George had to rotate out. And
that was the
Without George in the lineup, his team became invincible.
What a tough break for us that George wasn't playing any
Afterwards George told me it was his
coaching from the sidelines that made the big difference.
Oh, sure, George.
As for volleyball, there's always next year. George and I
have been squaring off for these matches now six years in
row. And you know what? I don't have a clue what
the overall record is. I just know that anytime George
looks at me for the next year, he will have that little
smile on his face. My team won, yours didn't.
I suppose I should confess I missed George on this trip. He
used to be my favorite sparring partner, but this year he
didn't want to argue with me about anything. He said
he wanted to chill. And that he did.
And now for your viewing pleasure, I have laid out a
pictorial recap of George's 2009 cruise. Alas, sorry
to say, I had to omit the pictures of George dancing on this
trip. Maybe 'omit' is the wrong word. It turns out there weren't any pictures of George
Obviously George wasn't quite himself this year.
Here's hoping he gets his mojo back for the next trip. I
miss good old George a lot. By the way, I still think George
is the best-looking guy on the planet since Cary Grant.
We are the
Champions of the World!
Joel Konkel, Richard Greason, Sam Lathrum, Kevin Macleod, MVP
Veronica, John Hall and Mr. Handsome. Don Taylor is
By the way, Richard, weren't you and your son Scott on my
another visit to Senor Frog in Cozumel.
Or was it Carlos and Charlie's this year?
We had a last-minute addition to our group - Robin Reel. She
was the winner of the $100 cruise trip
When you are single, the problem with booking a cruise well
in advance is that your love life could change at any
moment. We had one lady signed up who met a man
shortly before the cruise and didn't want to go without him.
I know the cynical among you are rolling your eyes, but you
might be surprised to know this same thing happened last
year as well.
Five days before the trip, the lady cancelled.
Now Marla had a paid-for cabin on her hands.
didn't see any point in seeing it go to waste, so she
offered the room for $100 to the first
person who emailed her with a registration and a credit card
number. Even though Robin was only
person to get her email in, she won because she was the
first one to follow Marla's directions.
Although I am usually a bit cynical about good deeds
- "no good deed goes unpunished" - in
this case Marla's extra effort was rewarded.
I think Robin had as much fun
or even more than anyone on our trip. Robin was bubbling
over with enthusiasm!
After the trip, Robin wrote a very sweet note.
"Hi Rick and Marla!
Just wanted to let you guys know how wonderful a time I had
on my FIRST cruise with the group from SSQQ. (First of many,
I hope!) I still can't believe my luck in getting this
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to the islands of
Jamaica/Cayman/Cozumel with such an incredible group of
people, and at such a great price too! ;->
I have to admit that I was a bit worried at first since I
didn't know a soul that would be going on the trip besides
Rick of course, but from the moment that I set foot on the
boat I felt very comfortable and welcomed as I met all the
friendly folks in the group. I really enjoyed watching the
experienced dancers showing off their moves on the dance
floor - what an incentive to get me back into the Studio for
lots of classes! The workshops you gave were loads of fun
(loved the part where we danced with kleenex between our
legs!), and some of the guys didn't even mind dancing with a
I have some photos that I'd love to share with everyone -
I'm sure you've got a procedure for this already since there
have been so many trips in the past - can you let me know
your preference for sending them? I'll be in the studio for
classes soon, so could just bring a CD if that's best for
Again, many thanks for a fantastic week - this is a trip
that I will remember for many, many years.
p.s. Still not sure how I feel about being forever known as
the "$100 Dollar Special"!! HaHa!"
John Hall and Robin
Robin and Trenton
Champagne Night is a favorite cruise tradition that
dates back to 2004.
champagne perk was new in 2004. On previous cruises, a
woman from a travel agency had booked the trips.
Consequently no champagne. That changed quickly when
Marla took over.
As a reward for organizing large groups
on cruise trips, Marla is given "points". There are
different options that Marla can exercise with these points.
For example, Marla could convert her points into added
commission (which is what her predecessor did).
Marla prefers to do things her own way. She would
rather reward her group for their support. So Marla converts
her points into many small gifts for the passengers.
One of those gifts is a bottle of champagne in every cabin.
In 2004 everyone told Marla how much they appreciated the
bottle of champagne. However, what Marla did not know
was that most of these bottles were sitting back in the
The problem with a bottle in a cabin is that there is only
one bottle. Now if you are a "romantic couple", this
is a real treat. However, half of our cabins don't
fall into this category. In 2004, a lot of these
roommates had just met. Two guys who barely knew each other
weren't as excited about sharing a bottle with each other in
the wee hours as you might think.
Some perks are
easily divided. For example, anyone with minimal math skills
knows what to do with four chocolate covered strawberries.
But it is very difficult to slice a bottle in two.
Since courtesy dictates that you have to share the bottle
with your roommate somehow, most people solved the solution
by leaving the bottles unopened.
One of the single guys on the trip complained to Mara Rivas
that his champagne was going to waste. Mara realized
her own room had an unopened bottle for the same reason.
Mara smiled. She had an idea. Why not have everyone
pool their resources for a big 6 pm bash on Thursday Formal
Night before our group picture at 7 pm? Such a Smart
Well, Mara's idea worked like a charm. Everyone got
smashed which made the event a smashing success! A tradition was born.
Fast-forward to last year's headache trip. Two women who
were totally new to our trip completely lost control.
Destructo and Oblivion, they thought it was a ton of
fun to open every single bottle and watch the cork explode.
One consequence was that champagne spewed all over the
floor. Not only was the champagne being wasted, but
the nearby floor was becoming a sticky, gooey mess.
Try walking in that stuff with your precious leather-soled
dance shoes and see how you feel about their behavior.
Even worse, these women had no concern where the corks flew.
Patty and Joe, two of my friends, both reported being hit by a
cork. That's how you can lose an eye. Since I
only have one eye, I am especially sensitive to any kind of
stupidity that endangers the safety of other people.
However, it wasn't just our guests who were in danger.
These two women were firing many of their corks into the
metal ceiling. I blanched as I saw the corks were
leaving dents in the ceiling!
I ordered the women to stop, but they were so drunk, they
didn't listen to a word I said. Right then one of the
women aimed a bottle at a TV screen. I lost my temper.
I grabbed the woman's wrist and physically jerked the bottle
out of her hands. She had the nerve to try to grab
another bottle, but I pushed her away. Then I pointed to the
door and told her to get lost.
You live and you learn. This year's Champagne Party
had one major change - I became the bartender. Since
it was now obvious that some people on my trips require
adult supervision, I vowed not to let those bottles out of
my sight. Everything has consequences. This
meant there would be no dancing for Rick at this party. Oh
well. On the bright side, it also meant I had more
time to sip champagne. Witness the smile.
This year I got there early. Out of morbid curiosity,
when no one was looking, I surveyed the ceiling for damage.
Sure enough, I identified four different small dents in the
ceiling. Fortunately they weren't anywhere near as bad
as I thought they were, so I was relieved in that sense.
I thought quietly to myself that no one would even know they
were up there unless someone pointed them out. Just
then, the sweet lady who was the Carnival representative for
our group came up from behind and tapped me on the shoulder.
I turned around to see her and turned white as a ghost.
Busted! I was stunned. Thanks to my guilty conscience, I
assumed she knew all about the dents and was preparing to
read me the riot act.
There's no way someone could have discovered those dents in
the ceiling. How did she find out? Did someone
in our group tip her off? Does she read our web site?
My mind was racing. I was just on the verge of making a
giant confession when she spoke first. The lady asked me
where I wanted the champagne glasses dropped off.
I was so rattled, I couldn't speak! The timing of her
appearance had been so uncanny that I am convinced one of
the Gods on Mount Olympus had deliberately arranged it just
to see me squirm.
Just as I began to regain my voice, one of our guests walked
over to me. He had noticed me looking up in the ceiling and
had just figured out what I was doing. Now he was
curious too. He said, "Hey Rick, did you find any
holes up there?"
The woman's eyes were immediately drawn to him. What
holes? As she
turned her back to me, I silently sent him a panicked "Shut
the youknowwhat up!" signal by pretending to slit my
throat. That's when he realized
who the lady was. Now he turned white as a ghost too!
He instantly bit his tongue. Now the lady turned back
to me with a very confused look on her face. She gave
me the funniest look. She knew something was very odd,
but wasn't sure whether to pursue it or not.
I smiled and said, "Could you have the man put the glasses
here on the counter?" I pointed to a spot to distract
her. She hesitated for a moment. She seemed to
be debating whether to question me or not about my odd
behavior. Finally she said that would be fine, then
left with a big frown.
Meanwhile my nerves were completely shot. Fortunately
someone came to my rescue. Michael Flores (pictured)
was a wonderful help to me. I don't know if Michael
knew about all my problems from last year or not, but he
stayed right at my side for most of the party. Michael
opened a few bottles, put the empty bottles in a safe place,
and poured champagne for our guests. He gave up most
of his own party to help me. Mind you, I didn't ask
him to help. He just volunteered. Well, trust me
when I say I appreciated his help. Michael was the
perfect wingman for the occasion. I literally felt
like he was watching my back. Thank you, Michael.
As a semi-amusing post script, throughout the night people
came over to point and stare at the pockmarks in the
ceiling. The pockmarks had become a major tourist
attraction. Small wonder I feel old for my age.
Natia Peleaz and
newlywed Dina Burton/Catalan
Janis Peccia, her
brother Gordon, Rowena,
plus our newlyweds Chad and Allison
Why is this man
Roberta Burns and
Mark (James Bond) Sellers on the dance floor
Michael Flores and
his lovely wife Cindy
of course was the name of the famous volleyball that served
as Tom Hanks' best friend and constant companion in the
Taylor found a very interesting companion of her own for
this trip. No, I am not talking about that crazy
Veronica who cost me my volleyball title, but rather a huge
lifelike coconut with a monkey face. Wilson
accompanied Linda everywhere she went. Rumors began to
Needless to say, a picture is always worth a thousand words.
Let me add that Wilson immediately became the subject of all
sorts of tasteless humor.
Jane says to Tarzan, "Oh, Tarzan, you're so big and strong.
What large coconuts you must have!" "Just wait
till Jane see Tarzan's big banana!"
As for love
affairs that begin at sea and make it to land, I am pleased
to report that Wilson made it past customs. Wilson has
since been seen here at the studio taking dance classes.
The other night, Linda had her car broken into while she was
at Wild West. I asked her what happened. She
said someone broke the window and stole her purse.
Although Linda lost a lot of money, she smiled bravely and
added, "Well, at least they didn't take Wilson."
I was minding my own business up in
Cezanne's Restaurant one morning when Steve Gabino popped in
to ask me if I wanted him to take a jump picture of Marla
I stared at Steve and his camera for a moment. I had
no idea what a jump picture was. I asked Steve if this
was a trick. No, this was on the level.
I didn't want to tell Steve that I didn't know what a jump
picture was. It gets tiresome revealing my ignorance.
I gave it a little thought. I can jump. I think
Marla can too. Then I had an idea - why not lift
Marla? Wouldn't that count as a jump picture? Sure. Why not?
Marla dutifully followed me outside which surprised me.
Marla is instantly suspicious of anything new.
I am not quite sure Marla knew what a jump picture was
but since there was a camera involved, she cooperated.
Must be a woman thing.
thing she knew, Marla was airborne. I sent Marla so
far in the sky that for a moment she panicked and thought I was throwing her overboard. So Marla did the most
natural thing in the world - she screamed bloody murder!
As always, a
picture is worth a thousand words. As they say,
priceless. That picture is certain to become a family
So where did
jump pictures come from? To be honest, I have no idea
what the story is behind this enlightened lunacy. Now that I
think of it, I have pictures of Steve from previous trips
where he goes airborne, but I just accepted them at face
value. That leads me to suspect Steve has been jumping
for years and I am just now figuring it out. It gets
old being the last to know. I should know.
And now, for
your viewing pleasure, are more jump pictures. That's
Iqbal, Rowena and Charley (probably), plus Joel, the Zipline
Aerialist. By the way, do you have any idea how
irritating it is to see Rowena doing the same picture as
Marla and me? That's like buying an expensive dress
just to see some other hussy wear it to the same party and
look better wearing it.
Believe me when I say it took true professional integrity on
my part to include Rowena's picture here.