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I found Brooklyn in the Caribbean (Part 2): “On Watch”

19 Jun

June 19, 2015

So there I was, eating breakfast in the cruise ship buffet dining room. What did I have for breakfast? What didn’t I have for breakfast! Cruise ship + buffet = passengers too fat to get into a lifeboat in case of an emergency. Seriously, if the boat did go down, there would be a significant number of people clinging to the omelet station in rough seas.

So the four of us were sitting at a table next to the floor-to ceiling windows. We were in the back of the ship and I had an amazing view of the sea.

DSCF0141

I had to take this without the flash. My first attempt with the flash blinded half the dining room when it reflected off all that glass. The Captain thought we were torpedoed.

Somehow the conversation came around to watches. There was a watch sale onboard, and the prices really were good- 75% off Invictus watches, for example, and no tax. My brother was showing off the expensive watch he was wearing (NOTE TO WOULD-BE THIEVES: He keeps the watch locked in a safe, so back off!) and I showed off the classy watch I picked up a couple of days before at the $10 sale. OK, it was no Invictus, but the painted-on day and date dials saved the trouble of actually having to set the day and date. And I think Cruise Club is a pretty swanky name because hey, it tells people “I bought this $10 piece of junk on a cruise!”

There was a lull in the conversation as we all took in the majesty of the sea, Neptune’s Kingdom, Poseidon’s Paradise, the place my Uncle Lou peed, when from the next table came an unfamiliar voice in a very familiar Brooklyn accent saying “so you like watches, huh?”

This was directed at my brother, not me. Or maybe it was directed at me, I don’t know. My plan (and I implemented it beautifully) was to ignore people I didn’t want to talk to, which was anyone who was not handing me a dry towel as I got out of the pool.

It turned out the Brooklyn accent came from a woman sitting at the next table, another very senior senior citizen. She was there with her companion, who turned out to also have a very thick Brooklyn accent. Their names were Lorena and Robyn, and I know this because Lorena went around the table third-grade style and made us introduce ourselves, herself and Robyn included. And guess what? She was a former third-grade teacher. (Ever “see” a word in your mind’s eye? Even though Robyn never spelled out her name, I saw it spelled with a “y” as soon as she said it, hanging there in midair in front of her.)

The conversation was actually kind of not unpleasant. We talked for a few minutes and of course the talk turned to where everyone came from. And not only did Lorena and Robyn come from Brooklyn, and not only the same part of Brooklyn (Bensonhurst), but from 2 damn blocks away from me. Two blocks! We talked about stores in the neighborhood, schools, all kinds of stuff that I talk about at home, not a thousand miles away from home.

I traveled to the Caribbean to talk to a pair of people who live 2 blocks away from me.

I haven’t seen them since I’ve been home. I’ve been spending a lot of time in my apartment just in case they walk past my door.

 

TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 3: My Review of Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, at Sea.

You can find Part 1 right here! Click! You know you want to.

 

I found Brooklyn in the Caribbean (Part 1)

18 Jun

June 18, 2015

Last week I was on a Caribbean cruise. It was amazing. A totally different world, in fact. Unless you are from my part of Brooklyn. I found that Brooklyn exists down in the islands too.

The first day on the ship there was a photo op with some DreamWorks characters. I was in line with my family to have my picture taken with some sort of giant hippo creature when the two senior citizens in front of us turned around and asked us a question. At least I think that’s what they did.

They were two women, approximately 670 years old (combined) and were wearing outfits that I still see in fevered dreams when no amount of rum will wash away the memories. Leopard spandex stretched over their obese, 4-foot frames. Tight, tight animal print sleeveless tops, with their batwing flabby arms whacking into their sides with meaty thwaps. Enough gold jewelry around their necks and jammed on their sausage fingers to pay off my mortgage. And don’t ask about the makeup. Please. I’m trying to block it all out. And of course they wanted to have a conversation with us. In Russian.

They kind of looked like this, but stockier.

They kind of looked like this, but stockier.

After I got over my shock and revulsion and recovered my poise, I said something eloquent and pithy like “uh, I don’t understand…” They switched to heavily accented English.

“Vayre you from?”

I had no idea then and no idea now why they picked us out, but I do tend to get picked out by odd strangers for their delusional conversations from time to time. I must have that kind of face, which is why I need grow a thick beard.

“Uh, I’m from Brooklyn.”

“Brooklyn! Brooklyn! Brighton Beach!” They got very excited, jabbered to each other, and kept pointing at me. And since I was only a couple of feet away they were nearly jabbing me in the belly. “Brighton Beach! Brighton Beach!”

“Yeah, I don’t live there.” And even if I did, I’d still tell them I didn’t live there for fear they’d decide to look me up and jab me some more back on dry land.

“You shood go! Good! Very good! Call it Little Russia!”

I’ve been there. Very good it is not. Brighton Beach is where I encountered The World’s Largest Pile of Garbage, among other things. And while it also has a beach, the comparison to any Caribbean beach begins and ends there.  And if Little Russia is anything like Big Russia, then it’s no wonder that Putin spends so much time wrestling bears.

“Yeah,” I said through a smile that was queasy from reasons other than the sea. “Lots of Russians,” I helpfully confirmed.

Then, mercifully, it was the women’s turn to get their pictures taken, and they moved on.

After I had my pictures taken with a person in a hippo costume that looked very normal compared to the specimens I was just speaking with, I made sure to go in the opposite direction.

 

TO BE CONTINUED in Part 2, in which I travel 700 miles just to meet some people who live 2 blocks away from me.

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