Meanwhile, In the Caribbean...
March 27, 2007.
While my young colleague Christopher Truscott continues to gas on about public policy and high tuition fees back home in Minnesota, your correspondent finds himself sailing the Caribbean in search of Osama bin Laden.
I will not name the vessel, because I do not want to be sued. It is a pleasure cruise "dreadnought", about twice the size of the Starship Enterprise, and we are currently headed south-southwest. Destination: Cozumel, with its legendary Hard Rock Cafe and conga lines of fat Canadian tourists.
Upon presenting my credentials to the steward I was assigned to quarters commensurate with my station in life--a converted restroom located deep within the bowels of the ship, wedged between the 24/7 waste pumping station and the ship's furnace. The chamber above mine is apparently devoted to alternating classes in taiko drumming and flamenco dancing for the obese. There is no porthole--indeed no natural light of any kind--but if I turn up the air conditioner real high it sounds like the crashing waves.
This evening I was expelled from the Observation Lounge for smoking a cigar--the first time, to my knowledge that anything like this has ever happened to a white man at sea. My standing among the passengers sank still further after my credit card was declined--publicly, loudly, and repeatedly--by a Rumanian cashier at the ship's duty free shopping station. I drew a bath towel over my face and felt my way through the mocking, pointing crowd, supposing I looked like Lot and his daughters fleeing the cities of the plain. It would have made an admirable subject for a painting.
Right now I am seated just outside the "Razzles Cabaret" where an energetic Filipino cover band named Melanoma or something like that is doing an apocolyptic version of "Shake Your Groove Thing." This entertainment is alternated with karaoke. Why do people from Arkansas think that they can turn in a creditable performance of Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive?"
The ship's hypnotist--yes, hypnotist--entertained a standing room only crowd by mesmerizing a bald man from Connecticut into saying "poop." (The kids loved it.)
Then there was an on-board game show called "Dysfunctional Family Feud", where participants signifed their readiness to give an answer to a survey by throwing a glass of water in the face of the ship's Indonesian steward. I must admit I did find this amusing, since earlier in the day he had been standing by wearing an expression of bemused disdain when my card was turned down. The wheel of fortune turns...
I slept through the tour of the Mayan ruins this morning. The Filipino band has just played "Stayin' Alive" for the fourth time in a row, and the crowd is beginning to turn ugly. But I will find bin Laden.