Taking a slow boat to …
“Harry, my home-bound honey,” said a familiar voice from inside a haystack of shopping bags. “I’ve bought you a surprise for …” The rustling of Dearest Duck emerging from inside the pook smothered the end of the line.
Setting aside my mug of Tension Tamer, I cranked myself up from my Lay-Z-Boy like a bear venturing out after a long hibernation and, like that same bear surveying distant mountainous vistas, stretched my neck to … well, to see what I could see.
Shedding shopping bags like tufts of grass, Dearest Duck walked towards me, her arms outstretched displaying what appeared to be a small, but vividly colourful, sail.
“Don’t you just love it?” said Dearest Duck.
By the sound of it, the sail was for me, so I eyed it more closely.
The sail was mostly blue, like a Jamaican sky. The way Dearest Duck brandished it caused the fronds of its painted palm trees to sway as if a gentle trade wind tickled their bellies. A patch high on its left-hand side resembled a kangaroo’s pouch.
“It’ ll look lovely on you,” said Dearest Duck. Oh my. The sail was an outrageously gaudy shirt.
“It’s for our trip,” said Dearest Duck.
“Trip?” I croaked as if my vocal chords were caught in a winch.
Mentioning the names of neighbours I would never again call friends, Dearest Duck said, “Max and Maxie had to cancel, so I’ve made all the arrangements to fill their berths on the cruise.” Oh my. “Come try it on,” said Dearest Duck, flapping the shirt as if waving a toreador’s cape.
Obediently, like a bull after the picadors have placed their lances, I staggered off to drape my portly frame with my brand new holiday shirt. Truly. Some of you know — as does Dearest Duck, but she pays no heed — I hate to travel. Some of you may even recall the events of my last coerced trip to foreign lands. We had so much difficulty getting past Customs back into the Land of the Maple Leaf that I swore I would never again travel outside the borders of the True North Strong and Free.
Determined never no more to roam, I even shredded my passport. I shredded my passport! “Sure, I don’t have a passport,” I reminded Dearest Duck, striving for disappointed sincerity. She grinned, not lovingly. “Don’t ask how,” she said, “but, yes, you do.”
I was discovering shadowy new depths in Dearest Duck that caused me to fear she’d dabbled in far murkier waters than I would have supposed. Had she sold her soul — or worse, mine — to Beelzebub to get me on a cruise ship?
Shortly, I stood on display. The shirt’s tail hung down over my arse to the backs of my knees. I felt as if I was rigged out in the collapsed folds of a tent, a humongous tent of tropical blue.
“You look lovely,” said Dearest Duck. I felt otherwise. My troubled sense of manliness smoldered. I refused to be a complete milquetoast. I thought of Walter Mitty but unlike Walt, I brought my fantasies to life — kinda.
For several evenings, while Dearest Duck rocked and dealt travel brochures onto her lap like playing cards, I sat in my Lay-Z-Boy reading an old copy of The Poseidon Adventure I’d found in a box.
“My Duck,” said I. “There are a couple of movies based on this book. Bet they’re on DVD somewhere.”
Dearest Duck glanced at the title. “Humm,” she said, browsing the brochures and pointedly ignoring me.
Tapping the picture of the capsized cruise ship on the novel’s cover, I said, “Sure, it’s only a bit over a hundred years since the Titanic sank off our coast.” “Humm.” Before I had a chance to mention rogue waves, Dearest Duck forced a brochure between the Poseidon’s pages.
“This is the boat we’re going on,” she said, indicating a monstrous white cruise ship big enough to hold … oh, I don’t know… a couple of thousand easily-drowned mortals.
“Reminds me of a bloody big iceberg,” I said, and huffed.
“Stop pouting and knock off your foolishness,” said Dearest Duck. “We’re going to have a lovely time.” Life went on apace. Daily, it seemed, Dearest Duck added to my travel wardrobe. Several pairs of short pants, garishly match- ing a couple of more shirts sporting tropical themes appeared on my side of the closet. Sandals and a floppy hat to protect my naked noggin joined the ranks. Swim trunks with extra-long draw strings. Sunblock lotions. Weird rubber slippers to guard tootsies from stingrays — I s’pose — if we went ashore and walked on beaches.
“No, no, no,” I protested each new addition.
Dearest Duck ignored me. She refused to acknowledge the book about tidal waves I was reading and the books about shipwrecks piled on an end table. Life went on another pace. And guess what. We’re sailing away in the morning.
Thank you for reading.