I honestly had no intention of posting a recap of Day 5 – because Day 5’s itinerary (here’s where I pause for dramatic effect) was Los Angeles.
I know, I know. I’m sorry for sullying your eyeballs with the very mention of that dreadful excuse for a city – it still horrifies me to think of it. (Just kidding, LA residents who are also my friends. You know I love ya.)
I’ll spare you the LA whining, but suffice it to say that this was not a port of call to which I was particularly looking forward. I strongly considered not getting off the boat at all – because with everyone ashore, wouldn’t this be an opportune time to visit the pool? Have lunch at one of the ship’s reservation-only restaurants? I dunno, sleep?
But I decided, ultimately, that this would be very pouty and rude of me. I wanted to show the vacation gods that I was capable of putting on a good face, even in cities that are less than my favorite (read: least favorite. read: the absolute bowels of society), lest they see me as ungrateful and send more future vacation misfortune my way.
So, I went ashore. I won’t bore you with the specifics because they’re awful. They involve waiting an hour in the sun for a ride to the city, antisemitism, adultery, and mediocre food. The Nutshell Version is that I came, I walked around, I ate, and I left.
But then I got back to the ship and visited my favorite little wine bar – where my favorite waitress, Ann, was waiting for me.
First, a word about Ann: Ann is great. She is 31, from the Philippines, and new to Holland America so she can’t join us ashore yet. She is easily one of my top five favorite things about this trip. Every evening before dinner, I’ve been bringing my laptop up to Ann’s bar to write – and she is always the one who brings me my drink. She calls me “Miss Mary” (Oh, did you not know? My name is actually Mary.) and asks me, “Grapefruit cosmo for you today, Miss Mary?”
The thing is, grapefruit cosmos aren’t even my drink. I just tried it once on the first day and then when I came back she remembered and offered it to me again. I got so excited about being remembered, and being a regular, that I’ve been ordering it ever since. I don’t mind; sipping from a martini glass while writing feels very Hemmingway.
Anyway, one day Ann finally got around to asking me why the heck I was alone and working all the time. I shared with her that I was traveling solo, and not working but writing.
Which is when Ann launched her campaign.
From that moment forward, she would find every opportunity possible to steer me away from my comfortable little corner of the bar and toward people and civilization. “You’re not going to the show tonight, Miss Mary?” She would ask me. “You know I hear the band at BB King’s is very good tonight, Miss Mary!” “Oh Miss Maaaaa-rryyyyyyy, I saw some very cute boys walking to the pool just now!” And so on.
I would usually politely decline her suggestions, saying that I’d seen the show already or I didn’t feel like dancing or I saw those boys too and we obviously have different taste.
But today she was persistent.
“There is a pub crawl on Deck 9 and I think you should go. There will be a lot of young people there.”
“I dunno,” I responded, “I’m already in my pajamas!”
“I’m calling right now and putting you on the list.”
“No wait,” I pleaded, trying to conjure up a better excuse. “I need to… er… write.”
“I’ll be right back.”
And so she put me on the list, and I was supposed to be there in 10 minutes. I had just enough time to drop my laptop off at my room and arrive at Deck 9 sweaty and out of breath.
But I have to hand it to Ann – she was right. The pub crawl consisted of hopping between four different bars on the ship, each of which included a featured drink, games, and dancing. And true to her word, there were people my age there. I drank, I played beer pong, I danced, and I made friends.
I had mixed emotions about Ann in light of my headache the next morning… but with the benefit of perspective (and some ibuprofen), I was prepared to devote a whole post to her.
So, this post goes out to Ann – and in general, thank you to all the Anns of the world for inspiring courage, giving me the kick in the pants I need once in a while, and overcoming the impossible (a trip to LA).