The Old Coot gets a workout

By Merlin Lessler —

I was recently on a cruise in the Southern Caribbean. It wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been on a ship or two or three over the last 30 years, but I was a youngster when I started, in my early 50’s. A lot has changed over those 30 years, but this isn’t a documentary about the evolution of cruising. I don’t know what it is. 

Anyhow, I’m usually off my leash in the early morning hours. I’m at breakfast as I write this. It’s a cafeteria deal, with islands of food items, not one long line. You scramble from place to place. Cereals here – custom cooked eggs there – meats at another station- toast and bread off to the side. 

You weave through a mass of people like an NFL running back, trying to avoid tacklers. No small feat for an octogenarian with balance issues. 

On this day I actually remembered to grab a silverware pack (knife and fork wrapped in a cloth napkin) and shoved it in my pocket. Unlike the day before, or several days before, when I located an empty seat, sat down to eat, and realized – NO UTENSILS!

This day, with a knife and fork in my pocket, I headed to the toast station where you wait while the bread you select runs through a car wash like a toaster conveyor. I decided to come back in a few minutes and moved on, grabbed a juice at the beverage corral, found a table and plopped down my stuff, marking my turf. End of trip #1. 

Then I grabbed a large plate and a bowl and put the bowl on the plate. Did I mention that there are no trays to purvey your selections? Not anymore. 

I went to the cereal station and deposited a splash of Cheerios into the bowl; then to the fruit island to add watermelon, cantaloupe, and two strawberries to the plate the bowl sat on. My solution to the no tray situation. I put the goods on my table. End of trip #2.  

Trip #3 – back to the beverage corral to snag a coffee and said, “Sorry,” to the nice little old lady I nearly knocked over when my balance issue hurled me into her. I sat down and breathed a sigh of relief, opened my napkin and discovered just a knife and fork, no spoon. 

This started trip #4. I went back to the cereal island and grabbed a spoon, thinking, “This is it; I can finally eat my breakfast.” Oops! Not to be, I had forgotten to pour milk on my cereal; grabbed the bowl of Cheerios and went back to the cereal station where there were pitchers of milk and cream. Trip #5.

I‘d forgotten to pick up the toast, but decided I’d had enough exercise for one morning. Maybe tomorrow. I hadn’t tripped or bruised too many passengers in the process. 

Someone is sure to ask what I did on my cruise. I’ll simply say, “Had a good breakfast. And, I got a lot of exercise.” 

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