July 07, 2009

Boredom

I found myself standing at the edge of the ship with my hands clasped to the railing tightly. I drew in a deep breath of the cold night air and let out a scream. Behind me, passengers on their after dinner walks just ignored me and continued on and lights in the staterooms behind also lit up in confusion. No one talked to be for a good five minutes before an official looking person came up to me. I explained to him nothing was the matter and that I just needed to get a scream out was all. He hesitantly understood and walked off. The cool, dark air seemed to envelope me in a comfortable yet chilling blanket. The stars stood out and each one seemed to want to call my name but sat there in the sky, motionless. I plunked down onto an empty steamer chair, reclined and sighed. The varnished teak creaked under my weight as I shifted about endlessly. I stood again, and then untied my bowtie and loosened the vest underneath my jacket. Tweed isn't exactly a handsome look for the steamer Queen Alexandra.

My stateroom was near the front of B deck, right beneath the bridge, but behind the Samba room. In the evenings, I could hear the band playing, the gayeity, the couples laughing and the tigers on the prowl for mates. I dont think I came here to mate. Certainly not on a ship for now... It was later towards the night when I heard an odd thing from outside the cabin. It was a long howl, almost yelling. I switched on my lamp, pulled over a dressing gown and stepped outside. There it was again, that yell. I closed the door behind me, locking it and putting the key in my pocket. I climbed the staircase and found that same officer that looked at me when I was howling, he was now howling. I stood halfway between B and A decks watching, and trying in a sense, to be inconspicious. He looked at me and nodded.

"Does a body good you know."
"Yeah, I do." I responded.
"Sorry for giving you funny looks earlier, but you know how it is. Gotta keep up appearances."
"No no, by all means."

I retreated back to the B deck promenade when I hear a yell again. I looked at one of the clocks that stuck out from the wall. 103AM. Goodness, what a lark.

The next morning, I found myself again at the table that seemed to be unofficially and unceremoniously christened the single gentleman's table. I sat, cherrily with a white china plate piled with sliced pineapples, cooked ham, roasted king edward potatos and corned beef hash. I sat and ate in silence with my newspaper. Around me, there was the buzz of families and conversations in the dining room. Some of the other passengers were dressed in bathing suits and caps and had robes on. As if after eating, they would take a swim in the plunge room. I could imagine a few of them getting cramps half way through a lap of front crawl and then the lifeguard would drag them out and then they'd complain about having their lap interrupted by some underpaid lackey.

On board, things were boring and dull. One could only play so many frames of shuffleboard with Colonel Lysander, or so many rubbers of whist with the ladies who defiantly hung around the men's smoking lounge. Life at sea was like living in the country. This trip would mark the second time i've journeyed from New York to Southampton. Neither trip was as entertaining as the martini girl in the samba room at 8pm. She would walk in wearking only a dress made of balloons with a martini in each hand. Whatever lucky bloke paid enough for one of these martinis would get five seconds with a pin to pop as many balloons as possible. That's ship entertainment for you. The arcade was no better. The stores were mostly botiques for ladies and the one store that did appeal to mens was the ship's barbers. But inside, the usuals frequented their seats, waiting for juicy gossip to spread. In reality, the only thing they talked about was the last baseball game and the scores of college football games of colleges I never went to.

I stepped into the barbershop and the air of hair and musk hit me instantly. I sat in the deep, swinigng, moroccan leather chair and asked for a short back and sides. The barber began to cut my hair, slowly humming a dirge-like tune. His arms had more hair than his head did which was rather discerning, but the cut turned out fine. I paid him, and he handed me a pocket comb as a souviner. I examined the little piece of plastic in my hand carefully. There was a silhouette of the ship imprinted on the side in gold foil with the letters: R.M.S. Queen Alexandra. I thanked him and left.

I came back to my room, and the samba music started up. I walked out, yelled, then fell asleep.

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