My father likes to remind me I was likely conceived in either San Juan or St. Thomas. I endeavor not to think about this for the two days we are in these ports. Instead I focus on pirates and mountains. St. Thomas is a wee bit crowded for my taste, not just at the god-awful cruise port but pretty much everywhere. The poverty would get to me if I stayed. More precisely, the lack of a middle class would start to work on my nerves.
Despite that, the people are friendly, the vistas are stunning, and Blackbeard’s “castle” is a delight. It’s a stone tower with molasses used as mortar. My summiting the three-story spiral metal staircase is a personal triumph of sorts: in addition to my fear of dying in a fiery plane crash, I also have a strange paranoia about metal stairways giving way. I am, as you may imagine, tons of fun at lighthouses. And by “tons of fun” I mean “not fun at all.”
Nevertheless, I summited Blackbeard’s Castle and saw what he saw, with a small addition: our cruise ship. I mean, if Blackbeard ever saw a ship of this size in his harbor, he would have freaked the hell out. Now, they lick their lips in greedy anticipation. I don’t blame them, but still, it makes you think… have pirates changed all that much, or have we just legalized the practice?
|One man’s stone and molasses tower is another man’s castle.
Back on the boat, we meet our midwestern table mates, Mike and Sandy. I manage to put my foot in my mouth more than once, which I know shocks all of you. One: they live in Michigan. I ask if they hunt. Apparently they not only do not hunt, it’s something Sandy hates passionately. I shut up, except to babble on about gators and hog hunting in Florida, seemingly not realizing that this is, I am certain now, no different than deer hunting to her, and my rhapsodizing about the taste of wild hog is not winning me any points. Thank god I’m not playing for points. Also, responding to her comments about how horrible hunting is with comments about it being more humane than the cattle raised in stockyards? Another reason I was really glad not to playing for points. I am officially the worst liberal ever.
Mike and Sandy, trying to be good midwesterners, gamely plow on. They ask if I have children, and I respond with my usual “none that I know of” which is usually good to stop the conversation. I realize too late that El Cap is sitting next to me, I’m wearing my grandmother’s gold ring, and since my right hand is swollen, I’ve moved it to my left hand. My left ring finger, to be precise. I gather from their masked expressions of bewildered shock they thing that I’m speaking for El Cap and myself as a couple, which makes a feeble attempt at humor a kind of bitchy statement. He hurries in with, “no, no children” and we leave it at that. I am now also the worst girlfriend ever.
At this point, I have the good sense to shut up. Honestly, there was more tasting of the foot, but I think I’ve blocked it out. They really are very nice people. El Cap and I head to the comedy club, then to a great piano bar – Irish Seas, and appropriately named judging by the amount of booze flowing – where I am the only person who can correctly identify strains of “Sweet Home Alabama” when our odd little piano man plucks it out.
We stay there until about midnight, mostly because the piano man rocks, even if he has one of those half-mustache things where he shaves the top half of his upper lip only. Also, I’m 97% certain the guy in the Stetson hat two bar stools down is Wade from “Hart of Dixie.”