DAY FIVE Woke at four, aware of a horrible imperative. Hello, norovirus.

Maybe. Probably the shrimp. Went back to sleep, and woke in a state of confusion, brain feel as if packed in Vaseline. Went to breakfast, which I handled with no great enthusiasm or relish, but it did not argue with me. Well, the great thing about having the norovirus? You don't have to wash your hands anymore! No more sanitizing! There's no point!

Kidding. Went back to my cabin, and noted with confusion the time on the wall: 8 AM. Huh. I’d şet my alarm for 8:30. My watch now said nine. Asked the steward if we’d reset the clocks; no, we hadn’t.

Checked the time on the internets, and it was eight. What the hell was that all about.

Well, it being nine, let’s do something. Got my bag and books and towel and went to . . . the beach.

It’s the Grand Turkish Carcass today. The ships dock at the end of the island; the main town, which I’m sure is charming, and which I seem to remember having visited at one point, is up the road. The cruise area is a manufactured ersatz town, a shopping area that looks good in the strong Caribbean sun.

I settled in under an umbrella. A local wearing a shirt that said MARINES walked up and said “Twenty five dollars.”

“For the chair?” I said. “No.”

He nodded. “Umbrella.”

The first row of umbrellas on the beach were red and had a cellphone brand name; the rest were green, and had the logo of the cruise terminal.

“Well, no,” I said, starting to pack up.



I went a few rows back and got a chair and umbrella for free.

Thing is, I would have paid five for that spot, if I knew they were selling the spots on the water. Most went unsold. Bad business.

I finished a Martin Beck book with a bad taste in my mouth. I love the series - it’s the proto-Scandia-noir - but this one had too much of the authors’ Marxist misanthropy, and it’s amusing to hear them hate on the Christian Democrat government for being right wing. The authors rail against the state - its unresponsiveness, intrusion into private lives - all the while attempting to make a case for one that would be far more powerful. Only for a little while, of course. Only until the magic moment when it withered away.

Went to the gift shops, looking for a cold can of Coke. There were no cans of Coke to be had. Anywhere. You had to go to a bar and get one for seven dollars or something, and I was not inclined to do that. Each of these trips is the same: I refuse to pay what they are charging for Coke until the fifth or sixth day, and then I break down, and it’s ambrosia.

The rest of the day was spent dozing and writing and reading. The pre-dinner party starts in a half an hour, and I will find the nice people to talk to. Bought a drink for a fellow staff member last night at the bar and she couldn’t put down her phone, and after a few words walked off so looked at her phone. (She’s always looking at her phone.) I thought, well, that’s rude. I mean, no one is obligated to talk to someone because they buy you a drink, but we do work for the same magazine, right? A little “what’s your next piece” banter, or “like that thing you wrote about,” but no: chopped liver. Kids today.

Anyway. At the meet-and-greet-and-drink tonight before dinner, where everyone gathers in the pool area and the din is great and the conversation spry, one of my longtime cruise friend asked about the economics of the show, whether the ships charged the make-believe destinations for the privilege of dropping off a thousand shoppers, or whether it was the other way around and they took a cut - well, I know a guy, so I asked.

Carnival built the destination, and charges the ships. But! Carnival owns HAL. But! They’re structured as separate companies, so HAL pays its parent. The other ship in harbor was another non-Carnival line (I think) so they paid full freight.

Other topics of conversation: over-prescription of anti-depressant medication; modding a Florida golf cart, my tie and how it matched my shirt (“Minnesota Mafia” said one guest) and what I am going to say on tomorrow’s panel.

Yes, the panel! I have to go to work tomorrow.

Oh: pre-event ship walk, less energetic and ecstatic than the previous evening, but still good. Fantastic ruddy sunset:

We’re at the point where all the ship norms are our norms. Everything that comprised our old norms is forgotten. We are all citizens of this vessel, and it will expel us before we are ready to renounce it.












Now I can say I’ve been to the Dominican Republic. I shouldn’t, but I will.

It’s this:


It’s Jurassic Park. Really! They shot some of it around here, we’re told. The cruise port has a collection of shops which offer - brace yourself - duty free alcohol and tanzanite. The stores are very nice. It’s all very nice.

It's quite nice. A nice little Westworld space for people to pretend.

Did I mention Jurassic Park? There's a display of a bug trapped in amber, and if you're inspirited to bring a some movie-magic home, well, head to the gift shops:

I'll bet they sell Diomonds, too.


The view upon leaving was lovely. So while I can’t say as if I’ve been there - although of course I will - I can say I’ve seen it, which is something.

LATER It was the cigar-and-cognac event on the back of the ship, always a raucous time. Stayed up way too late debating old forgotten culture with a whippersnapper who insisted that Monty Python didn’t stand the test of time; he needed to be <bradythecaretakervoice> corrected. </bradythecaretakervoice> But when I just got back to the stateroom I saw a note that said we had to move our clocks back an hour, so huzzah: Time to recover head and voice by the time I’m on stage tomorrow.

What’s the time again? And what’s my topic? Checking . . . Okay, 10:20, TV and movies. Piece of pie.

Hardly wrote anything: sign of a fine day.



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