Thursday, September 24, 2015

Summer vacation, day 4

This morning we headed off to the pier, to catch our cruise ship. Rather than stopping at a restaurant for breakfast I just took the kids to a nearby drug store to grab stuff. Like, you know, hard-boiled eggs:

"Dad, they have weird eggs here."

We also passed this smokin' set of wheels. Because nothing screams "CHICK MAGNET" like a bright orange 80's Oldsmobile with a flared-up hood.

And... we met up with my Mom and headed down to the cruise terminal. You see some interesting license plates, hopefully not an indication of what's in the driver's coffee mug:

"92 bottles of wine on the wall, 92 bottles of wine..."

Standing at check-in, the TSA agent asked Frank for his passport. As he handed it to her his phone said "I show 3 post offices that process passports within 10 miles of here. Would you like directions?"

I also noted this item being checked: a box that, whatever was in it, the owner saw fit to completely mummify with duct tape. I hope they remembered air holes.

"Getting it open is half the fun."

We boarded the ship. It's been 5 years since my last cruise, but every time I board one of these behemoths I'm always amazed at their sheer size. The modern cruise ships dwarf even the biggest ones of yesteryear. At Long Beach you can see them parked next to the Queen Mary, making her look like a boat. And she was one of the biggest of her era (1930's), dwarfing the famous Titanic (1912).

Getting into an elevator as we explored, Frank and I had our first encounter of the trip with Mrs. Bitchy. This is an aging prune who apparently thinks she owns the ship. She was standing in an elevator, by herself, when Frank and I got in. She immediately pressed the “door open” button and asked us to leave because “I was here first, and I don’t like teenagers.” Hell, some days I don’t like them, either, but given how long you typically have to wait for an elevator on board... we weren’t leaving. Besides, it's not like Frank had even done anything. He was quietly texting a friend back home. She flipped me the bird and got off to get another elevator.

In a new twist since I last sailed, the ship now has an app (of sorts). It's really more of a local website. When you switch on your phone's browser, it takes you to the ship's daily schedule (though didn't include the teen club schedule, which would have been nice), and allows you to check menus, make reservations for dinner, and a few other things.

It also has a texting feature. You create an ID, and can then text your friends and family aboard. It only works for others on the ship, and (on paper) beats the usual method of bringing walkie-talkies. It's a good idea, since using regular texting at sea is unreliable (due to crappy signal strength) and costly (since it's roaming)...

Unfortunately, it's pretty fricking WORTHLESS in execution. Why? Because it's not designed to alert you when someone texts you. No chime, no beep, no nothing. I thought maybe I was missing something and went down to the help desk. Nope. That's the way it works. So, if you're trying to ask your wife where to meet for lunch, the only way she'll know is if she's spending every freaking moment of the trip staring at the phone's browser. Who thought this was a useful idea?

We went down to dinner.

The family next to us (about 12 people at one table) ordered 2 bottles of Limoncello as soon as they sat down and sang "Happy Birthday." They then opened the bottles, and began passing them around the table. Each person, including the kids, would take a swig and pass it to the next person. This went on until the bottles were empty. They asked the waiter to have 2 bottles of chilled Limoncello on the table each night.

And I thought our family traditions were different.

Our assigned waiter on the cruise was Peter. He seemed pleasant enough, but was obviously unprepared for our family.

Marie believes that Ranch dressing is THE key food group. Ever since she discovered it at roughly age 3, it’s been a central part of our household. Restaurants and family members that don’t routinely keep Ranch on hand will get chewed out by her, often before my wife and I can hush her up. She has it with everything except dessert.

So, of course, she asked Peter for some Ranch with her 1st course (I don’t remember what it was) and he was horrified. “Ranch does not go with that.” Eventually he brought it, though was clearly reluctant to be contributing to our bad parenting. This got even worse when she ordered it with her main course. Each time he brought out a small thimbleful of the stuff, and couldn’t grasp that, say, a bucket would have been more appropriate.

As he was processing this, my Mom spilled her water. The assistant waiter dove head first into the table to mop it up before it could spread too far. Peter ignored this and (I assume trying to educate her on food etiquette) asked "do you know what kind of foods ranch dressing normally goes with?" Before Marie could answer, Frank's phone said "I don't see any grocery stores that sell ranch dressing within 5 miles of you" (no shit, we're at sea). Not being used to having Siri argue answer him, Peter slunk off.

The evening closed with me, Mom, and Mrs. Grumpy playing trivia in the lounge. This is always interesting, as most people by this time of night have had a few drinks.

On day 1 they emphasize, repeatedly, that if you hear the alarm you should get your life jacket and go to the muster station. Then they have the evacuation drill. The muster station (you hear little kids wondering if there’s ketchup, too) is where, in the event of the ship sinking, you hang out while waiting to board a lifeboat. You also practice putting the jackets on.

So at trivia one of the first questions was “what do you do if you hear the alarm?” All the teams got it right except for the one next to us, who wrote “stop, drop, and roll.”

The guy running the game said “wrong emergency” and shook his head.


jimbo26 said...

Lol , wow each post is getting better . Does Marie use Ranch to disguise moms cooking ? ( Apologies Mrs Grumpy ;-) ) .

Heidi said...

Your blog is the best way to start the day. And I feel pretty much the same as Marie does about Ranch. Hidden Valley, the mother of all Ranch dressings, goes with almost everything.

Mockingbird said...

Ranch dressing contributes to climate change and can affect your nervous system!

Anonymous said...

Have fun on the Good Ship Listeria!

Anonymous said...

Just wait until your daughter becomes calorie or fat content conscious - the love affair with ranch dressing will come to a bittersweet end.

As for Mrs. Bitchy, you should have countermanded her open door command and then whispered to your son to fart loudly and copiously. Teenage boys seem to have an unlimited supply of flatus with which they seemingly can discharge at will. I realize that you too would have been exposed to the toxic fumes within the closed confines of the elevator compartment, but it would have been a small price to pay to see Mrs. Bitchy wilt.

Mari-Ann said...

Oh, I am so excited to hear all the details of the vacay. Almost makes The Great Grumpy Blackout worth it!

Moose said...

Um. About Marie... You need to head this off quickly before she grows up to be another Springs1.

And if you don't know about the Internet-famous Ranch Dressing Queen, Springs1, just Google for "Springs1 ranch dressing".

If you don't stop this soon she'll be freaking out at waiters for topping off her iced tea without asking first, and not bringing her buckets of ranch dressing.

Anonymous said...

Tell Marie she needs to try Parmesan Peppercorn Ranch. Now that one is my favorite! I put that on everything. I even dip crackers in it!

Anonymous said...

I worked my way through a number of schools by waiting on tables, and I learned at my first job - you never, EVER question a person's food preferences, no matter how wrong or gross you think they are. The proper reply would have been: "Of course. How MUCH Ranch dressing would you like for your chicken noodle soup?" Peter was no better than the woman in the elevator.

Anonymous said...

"Uh, what kinda car do you got?"

Anonymous said...

"I was here first, and I don't like teenagers. Do you mind getting out of this lifeboat and swimming?"

HeroHog said...

I want to buy the boy's cell phone! That thing is a hoot!

OldRPh said...

Just added to my bucket list - Go on a Grumpy family vacation.

Deb said...

Mrs Bitchy? Utterly rude!

The correct response would be "Madam, we all have times when we must endure the unpleasentness of those around us."

Anonymous said...

I asked a waiter for some pepper once...I wanted a bit of pepper on my fish. He was appalled and refused.

Anonymous said...

In our house, Siri is Gigi, and she has a lot of comments, too. I can see that Peter is going to have to acclimate. This Ms. B with the bird is like a bee in a bonnet. I can't wait to see if you get rid of her by the end of the trip, or she somehow redeems herself.

HeroHog said...

I'm afraid I would take great delight and make it my life's work to annoy Ms B as much as I possibly could!

BendySadness said...

Ugh, I always had this with tomato ketchup. You want to drown your steak in "Diane sauce" or "Blue cheese sauce/dressing", it's fine. You want a little bit of tomato sauce on the side, you're "ruining a good steak".
If I'm paying for food, I'll eat it how best works for my taste buds, including having it well done.

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