There was also a kid on board named Eric, 10 or 11 years old, bright and eager, asking a lot of questions and declaring his intention to play in the big leagues. Wills asked him, "You going to leave me tickets?" Eric said he would. His whole life ahead of him. I didn't talk to him at all.
•Two, a cruise problem. I had never been on a cruise before, but I believe that most of the people around me (many of whom wore T-shirts that said things like I'VE GOT IT, BUT NOBODY WANTS TO SEE IT and SHUT UP AND SKI) had.
The Norway can accommodate more than 2,000 passengers, and on this cruise they all seemed to be present and looking for each other: "We haven't seen Steve and Laurie all day." Or talking about each other: "Every number that was called in Bingo, every new song the combo swung into, every time anybody ordered a drink, every time anything happened, he would sing out, 'Yes!' "
Many passengers had signed up without realizing that this was a baseball cruise, and to be sure, there were many, many nonbaseball-related activities scheduled at all times: Calypso Sail Away Music with Our Calypso Band, "Caribbean Melody"; Casino Opens for Live Gambling; Last Chance for Future Cruise Discounts with Our Cruise Consultant, Robin; Enjoy the Piano Sounds of Phil Conti While Sipping a Cocktail; Scarf-Tying and Ice-Carving Demonstrations; Renewal of Marriage Vows (Interdenominational); Grandparents Party, Bring Your Pictures and Brag!
Every day there was a different drink of the day—for instance, the Virgin Kiss (apricot brandy and Galliano). Never Old Jesus MacFarland's drink, I'll wager. Frequently there were announcements: "Due to high winds, trapshooting on the Olympic Deck is canceled." On Country and Western Night, country and western garb was required throughout the evening; I considered this nonbinding.
Everybody asks about the food. The food was up and down. Which is better, on a ship, than down and up.
In short, I was confirmed in my prejudice that cruises are for people who don't like to travel. However, the great majority of my fellow cruisers seemed to be having a fine time. And even when so many programmed things are going on, surprises can happen. For instance, Cameron McNeil, a toddler whose father was on board to demonstrate his company's pitching machine, toddled into one of the lounges once while exploring the ship with his mother, and an aerobics session was going on, and the instructor's suddenly outthrust foot caught Cameron and flipped him straight up in the air.
At dinner the last night of the voyage, when the waiters and busboys were supposed to get their tips for the week, they all lined up along the spiral staircase and sang We Are the World.
•Three, a couples problem. This cruise was pretty thoroughly a couples scene. Each baseball guy, in return for taking part in one of several question-and-answer sessions and signing free autographs, got a free cruise for two. Juan Samuel brought his agent, but generally it was wives or girlfriends. Don't get me wrong, I like couples. I enjoy observing couples—for instance, the elderly one I kept seeing: the woman steaming purposefully into some shop or another, muttering, "I'm going to tell them...," and the man following behind, crying, "Viv! Viv!"
Incidentally, I read something recently about what to say at awkward moments. When someone proudly shows you a picture of a grandchild, and the baby is ugly, you should focus on something else in the picture. For instance, if the picture is a beach scene, say, "Oh, what a nice sand bucket." I didn't go to the Grandparents Party, but I bet that old couple was there, and she was saying, "Aren't her eyes a little close?" and he was saying, "Viv! Viv!"