The Story of
Rick and Marla's
Chapter One - Courtship
Introduction - Story written by Rick Archer
September 26, 2004, I had the
pleasure of marrying Marla aboard the Rhapsody. However, as my
lovely bride put it afterwards, the crazy things
that happened definitely made this an "Oops
As the pictures show, the good news, is that Marla and I did manage to get married that
day. However, it wasn't easy. You
simply cannot begin to imagine all the things that
went wrong until you read this story.
August 2001 - Marla and Rick Meet
Did you know
that Marla and Rick actually connected on an
SSQQ Cruise? It's true.
Back in August 2001, I organized a cruise trip that took 101 passengers aboard
the Carnival Celebration.
Marla was one of 101 passengers with the SSQQ
Although I barely knew
had been tracking her for several months. Marla had been in several of my dance classes.
Through observation, I could
see she was smart,
pretty, and had a quick wit. I also noticed she had a
smart mouth, but then so did I. We often teased each other in class.
That effortless teasing was an indication to me that
we had a rapport. I thought that she was
interested in me. However, every time I probed
to see if my instincts were correct, I hit a brick
Marla had a long-time boyfriend outside the studio.
She said they had been going together for six years.
I never met the guy for a simple reason - he never came to the studio.
That fact reinforced my hunch that this relationship was shaky.
I was simultaneously annoyed and intrigued.
Marla was always talking double, but acting single. Was she available or wasn't she?
Although I organized and promoted the 2001 Cruise, I let a travel
agency handle the bookings. One day in April
2001, I almost fell off my chair when the travel
agent said someone named 'Marla Gorzynski' had signed up for the cruise
by herself. I must have asked that travel
agent six times.... 'are you sure she signed up
Since then, my curiosity had grown
accordingly. Why would Marla go on a dance
cruise by herself? I continued to watch her
from a respectful distance with the assumption that
I would find the time to talk to her on the cruise.
life is never easy, is it? Two weeks before
the cruise, Marla called me on the phone. Was
I available to give her and her boyfriend a private
dance lesson in Salsa? I was crushed.
That sucked all the oxygen out of my body.
Despite my dismay, I finally collected myself enough
to ask a couple of questions.
Marla explained she was going with her boyfriend to Miami the weekend before
our upcoming cruise. She wanted to go Salsa
dancing in Miami and he had agreed to the lesson.
didn't sound like a dead relationship to me.
Not only was the man completely in the picture, I
could tell from her voice that she had no idea I was
interested in her. On the one hand I was glad
that my probing had been surgical enough to avoid
showing my hand, but that was small consolation for
feeling spurned.... by someone who didn't even know
I was interested.
Heart-broken, I referred Marla to another
instructor. I had no intention of getting my
feelings hurt even more than they already were.
I guess I had been wrong all along. The heart
is a lonely hunter. Sometimes we see hope
where there is none.
My Bad Mood
After the phone call, I wrestled with the bad news about
Marla's boyfriend. I was surprised at just
how disappointed I was. I had not realized my
crush had grown this deep.
For the past
eight months, I had been in a pretty dark mood.
I was fighting depression and anger from a failed
Christmas Eve 2000, my wife had walked out the door
in the middle of an argument. An hour later
she returned and said she wanted a divorce.
And what was this argument about? Earlier
in the day, my wife had
asked me to
reset the lock on the studio door,
but I hadn't
heard her. We had just gotten a phone call
at home that the studio door was unlocked. Now one of
us would have to drive over and lock it. That
started the blame game.
At first glance,
this incident doesn't seem serious enough to cause a
divorce, but I suppose it was a case of the straw
that broke the camel's back. To be honest, I
did not see this moment coming. Nevertheless, I quickly agreed to the
I had only been sticking around because I felt
obligated to keep my marital vows. Now that my
wife had opened this door, I wasn't going to
hesitate. Five months later, our divorce was
In the meantime,
I had developed a scorched earth attitude. I
would date if I felt like it, but I would never get
serious again. I was pretty sure about that.
Considering this was my second failed marriage,
maybe I should read the writing on the wall.
Obviously I wasn't very good husband material, so
why even bother trying?
Strangers in the
On the first night of
the August Cruise, I read in the
ship's schedule of activities that there was a
"Singles Dance" in the Disco. For lack of
anything better to do, I decided to go.
Unbeknownst to me, Marla's roommate Sherry had seen
the same notice and wanted to go as well. Sherry
begged Marla to go along with her for company.
showed up for the “Singles Dance”
in the Disco. I stopped in
the doorway to scan for people I knew. To my
surprise, in the other entrance across the room, there
was Marla. It
looked to me like she had taken one look at the
place and was ready to turn around.
My eyes lit up. This was my chance. Maybe there was hope after
The moment I realized Marla was beginning to edge away,
I acted swiftly. I moved
directly across the room to ask her to dance.
I won't say I sprinted, but I
didn't waste any time either.
Marla smiled when she saw me. To my delight,
she accepted my offer to dance. However,
before we danced, Marla had a favor to ask.
Would I mind keeping her room key for her? She didn't have a purse or a
pocket, so she asked me to put it in my pocket
I smiled and said sure.
Although I realized the gesture had no deeper
meaning, at least she trusted me. That was a
other hand, you might say that giving me that key
did have some very powerful symbolism.
never had to
bother giving her back that key. That was the
night we fell in love.
Marla and I
have never been apart since.
After dancing for
a while, I asked if I
could buy her a margarita. She smiled and said
sure. At the bar in the Disco, we
talked for a quite a while.
roommate Sherry came over to check on us. I
danced with Sherry for one song, but I could barely
wait to make a beeline back to Marla. Thank
goodness she was waiting for me patiently.
Unbeknownst to me, Marla was enjoying our
conversation, but at the same time she felt guilty
about monopolizing my attention since she knew I
belonged to "The Group". Marla is used to
putting other people's needs ahead of her own.
However, Marla had decided it was her turn.
After all, she had learned something two very
interesting things about me.
discovered she was enjoying talking to me.
Two, for the first time, she had learned that I was
single. This was news to her. She
thought I was married. Tonight Marla was
seeing me in a completely different way.
returned to Marla, I asked her to dance again.
danced, it was time for our second round of
conversation. This time I was ready to get
down to business.
And what do you suppose we talked
about? Take a guess.
talked about Marla's boyfriend. I had been
speculating about him for six months. It was
time to figure out why my instincts had been so
strong about Marla even though she never gave me the
not at all surprised to discover the relationship
was on the rocks. Marla admitted she had been
going through the motions for a long time. I
simply nodded as I listened, but inside waves of
relief came over me.
After a while, the Disco began to clear out and her
roommate had gone off somewhere. I asked Marla
if she wanted another margarita. She nodded
yes. When we received our drinks, I asked her
if we could go out on the deck where it would be
easier to talk.
smiled and said yes. So we took our margaritas
and found two
lounge chairs to sit in. It
was about 2 am.
tell you something. Moonlight and Margaritas
are a strong recipe for romance. However, when
you throw in a distant hurricane, now you have a
really potent mix.
was indeed a hurricane in the distance. The ship was
far enough away to avoid any danger, but the
storm was close enough to create a
strong ocean breeze.
The waves were high and we could hear them splashing
against the ship. Up in the sky we could see
ominous storm clouds. Thanks to the
powerful breeze, they moved swiftly across the sky,
allowing the moon to dart in and out of the clouds.
That distant storm added a marvelous intensity to
the evening. All night long we watched the
moon play hide and seek. There was magic in the air.
Be it the South Pacific or the Caribbean, this was
definitely some enchanted evening.
Marla and I literally talked about everything under the stars till
sunrise. This was the night we fell in love. We
have never been apart since.
Getting Married Aboard the
and I took a slow but steady path to the altar.
We spent the first year in our separate homes, but
practically never apart. In
September 2002, one year after we met, Marla and I moved in together.
We got engaged in May 2003.
One month after that, in June 2003, Marla sold
her house. Now it
was time to make it official.
Originally we thought we would get married in Rocky Mountain National Park
at the remarkable Stanley
Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. The
Stanley Hotel held significance for both of us
because it is the place where I first made the
decision to ask Marla to marry me.
Unbeknownst to me, at the
wishing well, Marla had made the same wish.
I was ridiculously clumsy, two days later I popped
the question. Fortunately I did not need to be
eloquent. I found out we had been thinking the
same thing. It was time.
The Stanley Hotel would have been a great place for
a wedding. This place is so awesome and so
creepy. Did you know the Stanley is the place that gave Stephen King got
his idea to write "The Shining"?!
Plus who can resist a wedding with the Rocky
Mountains as a backdrop?
However, a scouting trip
to the Stanley Hotel one year later in May 2004
showed us just how impractical the idea
was. Uh oh. Now what?
Disappointed that the Stanley
Hotel idea wasn't going to work, we went back to the
drawing board. It was time to think of another
That’s when we decided to get married on our
2004 SSQQ Rhapsody
Cruise. What a great idea!
Why didn't we think of that first? Getting
married on a cruise ship seemed like the
perfect way to complete the Circle of our
was one big problem. That cruise was just four months down the
road! We better move
fast. Marla checked with the Cruise Line.
Fortunately, there was space available for a wedding
on board. All we
had to do was have our guests come to the ship about four hours before
the cruise started.
We would get married in the afternoon and start our trip
Wedding Day! September 26, 2004
Marissa is Marla's daughter. Sam is Rick's
Today they became sisters!
Tom Easley and Mike Fagan, my Best
Men. I was "Best Man"
their weddings too. All three of us have something in
we each met our lovely wives at the legendary SSQQ wedding
brother Larry and Neil flew in for the wedding.
Mary and Lynn, my favorite aunt in the world!
As you can
see, I passed inspection.
I liked Marla's brothers from the very moment I met
We had an immediate rapport that has never wavered
married on the ship turned out to be
the "perfect touch" for a great wedding!
The Infamous Bachelorette Party
Four months didn't give us a
lot of time to put a wedding together. Everyone flew into action.
Marla’s best friend Mara Rivas quickly
suggested a Girl’s Night Out Bachelorette Party for Marla.
Mara is a born hostess. Putting this party
together was right down her alley.
Mara is a lovely woman, very graceful and outgoing.
I like Mara a lot. I would like Mara even more if she would just
do one simple thing: get a new first name!!
Mara Marla. Mara Marla.
Say them both. Unfortunately, 'Mara' is easier for me to say. I
have to add an extra flip of the tongue to get that "L" sound in there.
when I talk too fast, I slur my words.
I am ashamed to admit
that on several occasions I romantically told my fiancée, “I love you
so much, Mara!”
Marla tried to be
understanding, but I don't blame her for letting it bug her.
It didn't help any that
I am not the only one who gets it
wrong! I can't tell you how many people thought I was marrying 'Mara',
not 'Marla'. Ask Mara sometime how many times
congratulated at the studio for the
"Engagement" by well-meaning people who
got Mara and Marla confused.
Truth be told, a good sitcom writer would have a field day
writing an episode on the
never-ending series of innocent flubs caused by the similarity of the two
names. Fortunately for everyone, both ladies were patient with the tongue-twisting mistakes.
However, I quickly learned it was not okay for me to make the same
mistake over and over again. Marla made it clear that she held Rick to a much higher
standard. Every time I called Marla "Mara", Marla would smile and say, “Add the L or go to hell.”
Trust me, that little ditty did the trick. I learned that was one mistake
that would land me in hot water fast.
Marla Gets Drunk
Due to Mara’s exquisite organizational skills, she lined
up a veritable army of well-wishers for the evening including Marla’s
beautiful 21-year old daughter Marissa. Are you
starting to notice all the names
That was the standing joke. If your name didn’t start with
'M', you were the exception. Along for the ride that evening was an
entire galaxy of
‘M’s: Marlies, Martha, Mara, Marla, Marissa, Marta, Melanie,
plus 16 more women
whose name started with some other letter.
After dinner at Mara’s house, this army of hot-blooded
women hit La Bare's, home to Houston's
hottest male strippers. Their main objective was to knock Marla
for a loop.
They succeeded royally.
Marla was hit with one tequila shot after another.
Marla resisted for a while, but at some point gave in. Slam Bam, Marla was
drunk as a skunk. Then came the obligatory lap
dance. Marla cleverly didn't bother to tell me this part of the story
until AFTER the wedding. As a result Marla got off easy.
Frankly, I was jealous. My own
Bachelor Party was a bit tamer - breakfast at 59 Diner with my
basketball friends. No lap dance from the waitress, that I can assure
After an hour of drunken excess and titillating lewdness, the girls left the
male strip club and headed over to Wild West with one
final objective in mind: get Marla even drunker.
At this point, you might
enjoy scanning the pictures. The pictures at the top feature Marla
with a polite smile. As the evening wore on, Marla is laughing
hysterically. Mara and Company succeeded royally.
Once they got to Wild West,
Marla was startled to see men swarming around her daughter
Marissa like mosquitoes in a swamp. Men were everywhere. Forgetting her
daughter was old enough to take care of herself, Marla acted like a mother
bear and shushed each potential suitor away. “I’m her mother and she’s too
young for you!”
Marissa embarrasses easily anyway, so you can assume she
was in constant pain all evening long with her over-protective mother’s
At Wild West, Marla danced, Marla drank, Marla talked, Marla chased men
away from her daughter, fielded a few passes directed her way as well, and
generally teetered just barely on the edge of
losing control completely. Finally it was time for
Designated Driver Marissa to take her mom home and put her to bed.
Fortunately there was time for one more
embarrassment. As Marissa guided Marla to the car, Marla spotted a
policeman eying her suspiciously. Marla blurted out, “You can’t arrest me,
Officer, my daughter’s driving!!”
Noticing the policeman didn’t look at all
hushed her up, “Mom, he can still get you for public intoxication! Now be quiet and
Marissa dropped her mother off around 1 am. Marla
immediately came and got me to look at all her presents. I gasped. The
entire living room looked like an advertisement for Victoria’s Secret.
have never seen so much lingerie in my entire life.
My favorite was the tiger
woman outfit (see picture on the right). I immediately suggested
to Marla to try it on.
“Nope, too tired,
going to bed.” She was asleep the moment her
head hit the pillow. So much for my Tarzan and Jane fantasy.
When Marla had come that night,
she had dropped over a dozen boxes full of lingerie right in the middle of
the living room floor.
Although she later stacked them neatly, those boxes
stayed in the same spot. Much to my dismay, Marla never even glanced
at them. Every night as
I would walk through the living room, I imagined that one
nightgown after another was laughing at me. Each
box would whisper, "Don't you wish Marla would try us on?" I would
frown and walk faster.
For the next four months, Marla barely had time to eat, much less try on
all that exciting lingerie.
Sure enough, on the day of the wedding, it was all still there in the boxes.
For that matter, none of it came with us on the cruise
either. Imagine my disappointment.
And when we returned from our
honeymoon, guess what was the first thing I saw when I came home? Yup,
still there and still laughing at me. I suppose there are women out
there who like to wear lingerie, but my wife is not one of them. I
learned this the hard way.
The Three M's: Mara, Marla, Marlies
Girl's Night Out
More of the Merry Troublemakers
Marta is loading Marla up
Judging by her expression, I would say Marla was long gone before
left Mara's house... and she still had La Bares and Wild West on
One Damn Problem After Another
Marla and I were excited by our
decision to get married on board
the ship. We soon discovered we weren’t the only ones who liked the idea;
everyone complimented us on our great idea!
Unfortunately, we soon
discovered the popularity of our decision had inadvertently created a real problem - the ship would only
allow us 30 guests! Ten of those spots would
go to our immediate family. But we had 120 people who wanted
to come on the trip! How do you tactfully
explain to 100 guests that they can come on our honeymoon cruise,
but they aren't invited to the wedding?
Marla immediately began
to agonize how to deal with the limited invitation list. This
would turn out to be the least of our headaches.
After the infamous Bachelorette Party,
our lives heated up to a blistering pace. The Girl’s Night Out was probably the only moment of comic relief in the
four months leading up to the cruise and the wedding day.
From the point, our story reads like “Alice in Wonderland” for its absurdity.
We had not originally planned on
sailing on the Rhapsody in September 2004. In the previous year, Marla and I
had taken 150
people on a July 4th Cruise aboard the Carnival Jubilee. That
was a big trip! It held the record for most passengers for seven
years until the Bahamas 2010 trip broke the barrier.
naturally when it came time to plan a summer cruise for 2004, Marla and
I went with Carnival
again. To our dismay, there was a universal rebellion among the passengers
from the year before. No one was signing up for our 2004 Carnival
As with many embarrassing situations, no one wanted to
explain to our faces what the problem was. Marla and I were absolutely
perplexed. 150 one year, nobody the next. What gives?
Finally we figured it
out - last year's ship had been the worst ship anyone had ever been on.
After that trip aboard the pathetic Carnival Jubilee the year before, everyone
had decided they liked our cruise trips, but not enough to get back on that Carnival
They didn't care if they
had to spend more money. They wanted to go back to the
Royal Caribbean Rhapsody we had sailed on in 2002. No
more crummy ships.
Once it became obvious that our July 4th Cruise
scheduled aboard Carnival had no chance of making, there
was not enough time to schedule another summer cruise. So
Marla decided to
switch gears and book the September Rhapsody Cruise instead. We
were amazed by the instant success of this trip. Good move.
By May, it quickly became obvious
that this cruise would be extremely successful. Now
at least that problem was solved.
Romance - a Royal Pain in the Butt
After returning from the disappointing May 2004 trip to scout the Stanley Hotel in
Estes Park, Colorado, as a potential wedding site, we decided that a wedding on the cruise trip was exactly what we wanted.
In an odd twist, the bad luck of having the 2004 summer cruise
pushed back into September had actually worked in our favor.
So Marla got
in touch with Royal Romance, an affiliate of Royal Caribbean that handles
weddings aboard the ship.
This is when Marla got her first hint that this would not
be a smooth ride. Marla was told that another wedding had already been
scheduled aboard the Rhapsody for the same trip! This group of 80 people
would be using the main dance venue aboard the ship known as the “Shall We
We were out of luck.
Marla was sick with disappointment.
I asked Marla why they couldn’t have two weddings the
same day. Heck, it's a big ship. Why not put us in the Disco? So Marla asked again and discovered
that this was a possibility. There was one catch. Since the venue was so
much smaller, we could only have 30 guests.
30 guests! Are
you kidding me?? We agonized over this.
This meant I had friends on the SSQQ Staff I
could not invite. Marla
had girl friends who had stayed with her through thick and thin that she
could not invite. I had many friends among the students at the studio past
and present I could not invite. Marla had close friends at her job she could
not invite. We could have easily had a guest list of 100 people. We could
only have one-third that total.
We thought about it for a while and decided we could still
make this work. Since many of our friends were going on the cruise, we
decided we could have an intimate (i.e. small) wedding and reception for our
relatives and land-based friends early in the day. This would be followed by
a larger dance reception later that night for the 120 people on the cruise.
In other words, we would have
not one, but two Receptions. We would
explain our dilemma to the people we could not invite and ask them to
Besides, this meant our courtship
really would come full circle.
“Met in the Disco, Married in the Disco”. Considering how much Disco has
meant to my career, it all seemed fitting. This was actually the deciding
factor. Maybe we could make this work after all.
So we agreed to the
wedding using the smaller venue. It looked good on paper, but little did we know what we
were getting ourselves into. Nothing was easy from here
Marla’s relationship with the Royal Romance agency was
cordial but very frustrating. Getting the details straight was a
painstaking process because no particular person at Royal Romance was
assigned to her project. In other words, no one person was responsible for
its “success” and “completion”, no "wedding planner".
Each time Marla called she got any one of six different
people. Whoever answered the phone was now in charge. Did she get the same
answer from each person? Of course not. Was anyone bound to honor an
agreement made by the previous agent? Of course not.
And there were more difficulties. It turned out that Royal Romance is a
private firm contracted to handle wedding details. They had great
difficulty coordinating the activities since they in essence were an
“outside organization” that had no control over the what
the ship would say.
I don't wish to sound critical, but even the smallest decisions seemed
to take forever.... and we only had four months. Marla would ask
Royal Romance something,
then RR would ask someone at the
Royal Caribbean (RCCL)
office. The Royal
Caribbean office would contact someone on board the Rhapsody.
Rhapsody would get back to RCCL. RCCL would get back to Royal
Romance. RR would then relay the answer back
to Marla. Three days might pass. Since the Rhapsody was undergoing some personnel changes at this
exact time plus dodging hurricanes, there were days when no one had even
filled the post to give an answer!!Ever try to bargain this way? Glaciers
move more quickly.
For example, Marla asked if she could have the flowers at
her first reception moved to her second reception. A question of this
magnitude took a month to answer. Finally the word came down.
Yes, Marla could
have her flowers at both venues. This incident should paint the picture quickly.
I rolled my eyes.
I told Marla that sometimes it might be easier to simply not ask
permission. All we had to do was take the flowers and move
them ourselves. Marla preferred to get permission. It
was a Mars-Venus thing that created tension between us.
Another time we learned we
were to be charged $600 for a DJ. We
patiently explained we would be bringing our own music aboard. A week later
we were told this meant we would have to pay $300 for a sound technician to
set our equipment up. We said we could set it up ourselves. They said we
had no choice. We protested again.
After another week of haggling, they finally backed down and
let us take care of our own music. This was a good
thing too. As it turned out, we
ended up playing at most 3 songs at the wedding!
Marty and Adele Raber
Neil and Ellen Weinstein
Larry and Rosalind
Every time I think of
this story, my blood starts to boil again.
Our most serious communication snafu had nothing
to do with Royal Romance. The biggest headache
involved the fabled “Shall
We Dance Lounge” aboard the Rhapsody.
This gorgeous room has a beautiful
circular dance floor in the very center. There is a stage in front of the
dance floor with seats surrounding it on three sides. You have two large
windows with a panoramic view of the ocean plus beautiful murals of Fred
Astaire/Ginger Rogers-era dancers on two walls. Someone with exquisite
taste designed this eye-catching Ballroom. Of course Marla and I wanted our
second reception here!
Royal Romance was in charge of the first reception, but
they informed Marla they had nothing to do with the second reception.
Marla was told this feature needed to be handled by
the Travel Agent coordinating with an RCCL travel representative.
Marla assumed this would
not be a problem. After all, Marla was the not only the bride,
she was also the Travel Agent.
This gave her the advantage of dealing directly
with an RCCL internal sales representative.
Unfortunately, Marla had trouble finding someone
to talk to.
Back when Marla
had first set up the group account with Royal
Caribbean for this trip, she was supposed to be assigned a Specialist to
handle our account. Unfortunately no one had been assigned
to date. This made things tough since our SSQQ people were
signing up quickly. So Marla had to deal with whoever answered the phone to take
the newest registration. Marla quickly
became frustrated because she was new to this and kept getting different
answers and different advice.Whatever one agent said, the
next agent contradicted. This was the same problem she had with
Marla had been bounced through four different agents
one day she got a young man named Courtne Smith on the line (yes, that is
how he spells his name). Courtne seemed bright and
he was definitely very willing
to help. Courtne patiently coached her through several areas she was uncertain
about. He also answered her newcomer questions without the sarcasm Marla had
experienced with the four previous agents.
Marla was in love. She had accomplished more in
this 30 minute call than she had in three weeks of dealing with the
other agents. On the
spur of the moment, Marla suddenly asked Courtne to be her “Specialist”.
replied, “Sure. I will help you in any way I can.” Marla let out a huge
sigh of relief. She had made a friend.
Over the next several months, Marla developed a terrific
rapport with Courtne Smith. He went way beyond the call of duty on more
than one occasion to help Marla solve various problems as they occurred.
Being a Travel Agent means handling a million details. Courtne was
incredibly patient and gentle. On more than one occasion, it was Courtne’s
humor and warmth over the phone that kept Marla from losing her sanity.
Courtne quickly became one of Marla’s heroes as he helped
her negotiate the Byzantine corridors of the Travel Industry.
Using the rapport Marla had with Courtne, it was a simple
matter for Marla to ask him to reserve the “Shall We Dance” Lounge for our
second reception. Courtne contacted the Social Director on the Rhapsody and
received permission. In early June, Marla received an email confirmation
from Courtne saying our request had been approved.
We were good to go.
They always say the
Western doesn't really start until the Bad Guy shows up.
On September 1st, Marla got a phone call from a
woman named Karen. Karen introduced herself as the SSQQ Group
Specialist. Marla thought that was odd since at this point she and Courtne
had been working together for over two months and already
had most of the work completed.
Marla was completely grateful to the young
man who had been so instrumental in the success of the trip.
Understandably, Marla had no desire to change horses in midstream.
So Marla replied
that she already had Courtne as her specialist.
To her surprise, Karen harshly contradicted her. In a cold
voice, she said that Marla was wrong. Karen said "Courtne is just an agent
for sales. I am your specialist.”
This made Marla angry. She answered, “I have been asking
for months for who my specialist was. Since RCCL had not gotten around to
assigning one, Courtne was gracious enough to pick up the responsibilities
and make the necessary plans.”
Things were getting ugly. These were two women had not
gotten off on the right foot. Now in no uncertain terms, Karen replied,
“Let me repeat. I am your specialist. I will be the one helping you make the
arrangements for the group activities. Courtne is responsible for nothing
more than booking the passengers. Now, tell me what your group requests are.
I show nothing confirmed.”
Nothing was confirmed?
Did this mean the hours of phone work and emails with Courtne
down the drain? Marla was ready to scream,
but held it together as best she could.
Marla replied, “I have confirmation by email and faxes
our requests have already been approved. In fact I even have an email
showing where I changed the time of our second reception in the Shall We
Dance Lounge at the request of the ship to accommodate their schedule.”
“Send me copies of each document.” In
other words, Karen was demanding that Marla prove that she wasn’t lying.
Fuming and ready to kill, Marla did send
Karen her copies.
A couple days later Karen emailed Marla to explain
that there had been a change in shipboard personnel on the Rhapsody.
There was a new activities director who had made some minor switches.
there was good news. The new Rhapsody personnel had indeed confirmed each of our 3 dance
classes. There was only one small change.
The Sunday reception in the “Shall We Dance” Lounge had
been moved to the Viking Crown Disco to accommodate a children’s orientation
Marla went ballistic!
She turned into a fire-breathing Bridezilla monster!
She screamed so loud the roof of our house briefly lifted from its
Thank goodness this was
email. Had it been the phone, no telling what Marla would have
told this idiot.
Marla was so upset she was
shaking. So I got involved. I
helped Marla craft a heartfelt response.
“Your suggestion is simply not acceptable. The Viking
Crown Disco is not large enough to accommodate 120 dancers. The use
of the Shall We Dance Lounge has already been approved.
And besides, it is
the end of September. Has anyone noticed that school has started? I imagine
the number of children will not be so overwhelming that another venue can’t
be found. However there is not one other venue on your entire ship suitable
for a group as large as ours. Besides, it is not just another dance class.
We need this venue for our wedding reception!!
We expect you to honor your
There was no immediate response. A 1-2-3 punch of
hurricanes soon descended upon RCCL headquarters in
Florida. Communication with RCCL stopped for nearly
a week while they worked their way out of enormous problems. Hurricane
Frances alone was so disruptive in its timing that it is said RCCL lost $15
million over that early September weekend.
Day after day went by without an answer to our
email. Obviously our problems didn't matter
much to them, but back in our home, we were sitting on pins and needles.
Marla pleaded to her
friend Courtne to do something.
Courtne said his hands were tied. Now that
Karen was involved, he was no longer able to do a thing.
And, unfortunately Karen insisted in staying involved. By some coincidence, nothing
got accomplished. Days became a Week. One
week became 10 days. Marla was going out of her mind. As
of September 12, just two weeks before sailing, we still didn’t have an
Finally Marla lost her patience. She had
waited 10 days without any answer. So she went over
Karen’s head and contacted
a woman named
Barbara to complain about the Shall We Dance Lounge problem.
Barbara was Karen's supervisor.
Marla poured out her
soul to Barbara. This
talk magically broke the logjam.
Barbara said she was confident something could be done. Sure
enough, one week later, we got the Lounge back.
There was another curious development as well. Courtne
was promoted to the Specialist level shortly after Marla spoke to
Barbara. Marla soon received a call from Courtne. “Marla, you have
permission to call whomever you wish and if I am the person you want to talk
to, I have the authority to handle any concern you have.”
In other words, Courtne was now Marla’s “official” Specialist.
was a pretty neat moment for Marla. Obviously Courtne had received
his promotion as the direct result of Marla's conversation with Barbara.
It made Marla feel great to help this young man
receive a promotion that he richly deserved.
Sometimes in corporate
america, the jerks win over the nice guys. It felt good to see
one of the nice guys win for a change.
I am sure our anger with
intransigence had put Courtne in several awkward spots, but rather than
withdraw, he continued to help us the whole time. He was right there till
the very end.
For example, when my friend George Grega had to drop off the
trip just days before departure due to work problems, we
had already passed our deadline
for finding a replacement. Courtne extended our deadline, which allowed us
to add a new passenger at the very last minute. Courtne’s patience saved us $500
in penalties and saved George all his money.
Marla and Courtne
made quite a team! It was never easy, but their
diligence paid off in the end.Thanks to Courtne,
our Wedding Day did actually become a success. Marla and I knew
exactly who deserved the credit. We were both
Marla had to go to war to secure the
Shall We Dance Lounge
for our second Wedding Reception
This facility was able to
handle 120 dancers without a problem
Bill Shaw and Sharon
Bill and Sharon were married one year later
Gay and MG Anseman
Margaret and Tom Easley
George Grega, George
Sargent, and Paul Foltyn
Gary and Betty Richardson
The Pre-nup from Hell
Once the Shall We Dance Lounge hurdle was crossed a mere
10 days before sailing, Marla and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. For
some reason, we figured the coast was clear. Boy, were we wrong!
Part of the problem was that Marla’s nerves were shot. A
worrier by nature, the four-month struggle of planning a complicated
wedding, remodeling the house for her relatives flying in for the wedding,
doing her day-time job as a gift representative, plus handling all the
details as the cruise travel agent had taken its toll. Marla
48-page prenuptial wedding agreement from hell.
Marla did not see the humor in this at all. In fact, she was downright
angry. I didn't blame her. What a mess!
Marla and I had talked
this over ahead of time. There were only two things
that Marla and I wanted in writing. These points were simple - we wanted our
pre-marriage assets to stay our own and we wanted the freedom to spend our
salaries and our pre-marriage assets as we pleased to put our daughters
through college. As far as I was concerned, two or three pages would have
been sufficient to accomplish this.
It didn't make me feel very good
that this 48 page insult to Marla was largely my fault. I opened the door when
my lawyer said there were several clauses
that she thought should be added. I told her to use her judgment and add
whatever she thought was necessary.
I have no doubt my lawyer
felt she was doing her
job to the best of her ability, but quite frankly I was
see a 48 page document! Even worse, I soon
discovered I could not
even understand what it said. This document was so long and so complex in its wording
that Marla couldn't understand it either. She
had no choice but to hire another attorney just to decipher the
thing. This prenuptial agreement infuriated her no
Furthermore, my own lawyer added excruciating stress by arguing with me
when I asked that many of the clauses be deleted. Right up to the final
moment I remained so confused by the document that ultimately I was glad we
had a second attorney. I counted on Marla’s attorney to reassure me what
was written was fair to all parties. Wouldn’t it be nice if lawyers were forced to write their
documents in ‘English’ instead of ‘Lawyer’?
Previous to the Pre-nup confusion, Marla had already been
battle shocked. I was a little stronger than her, but
still very tense from the
always-difficult task of writing my studio’s Newsletters
and running the business right up to the time of the wedding and cruise.
The added burden of
listening to Marla's complaints about this stupid pre-nup, my
inability to decipher what any of it meant, and my own lawyer's
stubbornness made me want to tear out my hair. It took 30
days of back and forth arguing with my own attorney over this document
to make even barely acceptable to Marla.
Marla made her point loud and clear that if she
didn't love me, she would never have signed this document.
Now as we signed the document just four days
before the wedding, I joined Marla at the breaking point. We were both
barely-functioning loony tunes.
Carl and Margaux Mann
Joe Lachner and Patty
The Gods Decide to Smile
It was about this time that we actually caught a break.
Actually we didn’t just catch a little break,
we got unbelievably lucky!
We finished signing that disgusting pre-nup at the law office on
Wednesday, September 22, at 3:30 pm.
As we got in the car, I
asked Marla what was next on the list of things to do. She reminded me we
still needed to get our marriage license. But she thought tomorrow morning
might be better since she thought the office closed at 4:30 pm.
Furthermore, any trip to get the marriage license
might be a waste of time. Marla's Royal Romance ‘How
to Get Married’ checklist said we needed to get a certified copy of a
divorce decree in order to get a marriage license.
In addition, both attorneys agreed.
They told us where to go to get one for me.
I looked at the clock. We had just enough time
get the divorce decree or to get the
marriage license. As I thought about
this dilemma, I had a
very strong feeling this divorce decree wasn’t necessary.
Before I made up my mind, I
first asked Marla when the carpet
cleaner was coming.
‘Tomorrow morning’, she said. I frowned.
the dogs had done
to our carpets, I sure didn’t want to take the chance of missing this
So I told Marla, “Let’s take a gamble. I realize your document from Royal Romance
says we need the certified copy of the divorce decree, but we don’t have
time to get both it and the marriage license today. Let’s just go get the
marriage license. Maybe the decree is not a necessity. Then if I’m
wrong, we can make both trips tomorrow.”
Marla, who is a rule-follower by
nature, looked at me like I was crazy. I stuck to
my guns. Finally she agreed to give it a try.
So we drove from the Galleria to downtown.
At 4:20 pm, we walked into the marriage license department.
Marla had been right about the time. It closed at 4:30. The place was deserted and the clerk
had just gotten up to lock the door. She took one look at us, then
looked at her watch, and
then frowned. I could tell she wanted to go home, but
tough. We were in the office and I was ready to argue if she
crossed us. The woman knew we wouldn’t
stand for it, so finally she said, “I guess we have enough time to do this.”
She asked for our driver’s license and social security
card. The next thing she said was, “Have either of you ever been married
Uh oh. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. But I didn’t
see what good it would do to lie. Marla and I both said “yes”. She checked
a box, but didn’t look up.
Her next question was “Is the address on your driver’s
I could not believe my ears. We were home free!!
We both began to grin. We supplied
the rest of the details as quickly as we could. Then she asked us to raise our right hand and
solemnly swear that everything we had told her was the whole truth blah blah
blah. I raised my right hand and said I had told the whole truth blah blah
Then she asked when we were getting married. We said
Sunday. She said that was good, because if we were getting married on
Saturday, we would have been too late. She reminded us that the certificate
had to be obtained 72 hours in advance of the wedding.
Marla and I turned to stare at each other in stunned
silence. If we had gone to get the divorce decree
today, it would have been too
late to come here. If we had waited till the morning, it would have been
too late. We had just snuck in under the wire.
The lady said, “Well, that’s it for today. That makes you
my last customers!”
Without today's good fortune, there would have been
no wedding on the ship. We had barely dodged an enormous
mistake. Both of us
were completely shaken at our close call.
We barely said a word as we drove home. Marla had
completely overlooked that paragraph. But when she looked again, the
72-hour clause was right there in the very first paragraph of the Royal
Romance. Marla could not understand how she had missed it. Marla
as a sheet. An asteroid missing the earth by one mile would
not have upset
her any more.
You Think Nothing Else Can Go Wrong
Wednesday included both the Pre-Nup signing and the
Marriage License miracle. The
stress was unbearable. We were now both officially complete and total basket cases.
Thursday was errand day. Luggage and
getting a new
shirt for the tux were on the agenda.
We had just handled both errands. Now as we headed home
on Heights Boulevard, a car suddenly swerved
in front of me. That car had just made a sudden illegal
left turn. I could see the light was green for
me, but that was little consolation. There was no way I was going
to avoid an accident. I had no choice but to simply plow
right into the side of the car.
Nevertheless I hit my brakes hard. Since I
wasn’t going particularly fast, I didn't hit the other
car very hard. Still I winced as I saw my car smash the other car’s
passenger doors to smithereens. My front end was badly scraped.
Fortunately both cars
were drivable and no one was hurt. It was just
a typical fender bender.
However there was one more insult to deal with – the driver had no
insurance. How did I guess?
Now it is true Marla had lost her sanity
several days ago. However this accident made us even. I was
officially a completely and total
basket case. What else was going to go
As I grimly endured the Texas heat waiting for the cops to show
up, I nodded to the Universe. In my mind the Universe had done me a favor
the day before, so now a little bad luck had to come my way.
I nodded. This accident had evened the
score. Karma in action.
From that point on Marla and I were so mentally drained by
the pressure that both of us were barely crawling toward the finish line on
hands and feet.
Thankfully Friday and Saturday were fairly tame days.
Now our out-of-town
relatives began to arrive. Seeing our family
gave us a much-needed cheer. Marla and I were hoping the worst was
behind us. No such luck.
Believe it or not, this was only the calm before the storm.
The last few days had just been the warm-up act. Things were about
to get much worse.
Mike and Trish Fagan
Marlies Whitmoyer and Shane Young
"I had an Oops Wedding!!"