Subject: The Love Boat

Date: 19 Dec 1998 00:00:00 GMT

From: tarla@xtra.co.nz

Organization: http://extra.newsguy.com

Newsgroups: alt.foot.fat-free

 

 

You know how it is when you're so desperately in love with someone

that you'll ignore the stupidest shit they do, just so that you can

continue to look at them with loving eyes? I had to do that, Friday,

with my newest love, Ateoroa. So desperate am I for human

companionship (being unfamiliar with both the city and the driving

rules) that I actually convinced myself that I was having fun Friday

night...surprisingly enough, you CAN pull the wool over your own eyes,

but only if it's New Zealand wool.

 

It was, the company Christmas party. The theme was, "The Love Boat."

We got a memo from Brian's office telling us that a) the dinner was

free b) that the dress was "smart casual" and c) that it would have an

open bar. That's all it took...a open bar and a group of people that

sort of speak the same language as me, and I was there with bells on,

or at least, black velvet slacks and a matching top.

 

We walked across the "gangplank" (a set of steps with a few boards

draped in thick ropes to give it a nautical air) and were greeted by

"Captain Stubbing." Say that like it looks instead of like you've

always heard it and you'll get the same sinking feeling that I got. He

introduced himself and welcomed us to the Love Boat, then asked if we

were in love. I responded, "Desperately." For some reason, that

pleased the lad. Fortunately for him, I was unable to correct his

pronounciation of his own name because there was a lovely boy waiting

for me with a glass of champagne. I grabbed it and made my way into

the restaurant with Brian in my wake.

 

I had previously met a few of Brian's workmates when I demanded that

he ask them all out for a beer after work so that I would have someone

to talk to aside from him and Alex. I saw a few that I knew clustered

together drinking, and steered that way avoiding "our cruise director,

Julie," with ease. I know that there are people who are desperate for

work in this country, but the wig she was wearing would only have been

on MY head if it had been an alternative to a prison sentence. And

even then, I would have brushed the damned thing and put it on

straight. Perhaps Julie had been taking her role too seriously and

dipped into the company's stores prior to our arrival. I wouldn't have

blamed her a whit.

 

After mingling and refilling my champagne glass a couple of times, I

was prepared to sit through dinner with five engineers and their

spouses. That part wasn't bad at all. Kiwis are extremely

well-travelled and had interesting stories about different places in

the world that I've only dreamed of visiting. "Julie" came 'round and

dropped off a little brown paper sack to every table and "Captain

Stubbing" told us that we were to choose one poor schmuck (my terms,

not his) and do our best to make hir "sexy." As the only artist at our

table, I felt the mantle of creativity had fallen upon my shoulders. I

did my best, blowing up balloons and taping tiny styrofoam balls to

the ends of them, then attaching these rubber breasts to poor Warren's

shirt. I whipped out the lipstick and gave him some Lucille Ball lips,

then made him a balloon codpiece, complete with lipstick happy face.

The other women in the group draped him with crepe paper and I strung

up the chocolate coins that were scattered on the table through pieces

of pipe cleaner to give him earings and a bracelet. Somehow, when I

wasn't looking, he ended up with pipe cleaner bunny ears as well, but

that wasn't my fault. He would have won, if he hadn't been the first

to display his "sexiness," but he was a good sport nonetheless.

 

I had hoped that the contest would be the worst of it, but no, I

couldn't be that lucky. I moved from champagne to white wine as the

Captain called up six couples and asked them a series of personal

questions that required a quick wit to actually be entertaining.

Unfortunately, most of the contestants only had half the requirements.

Thankfully, after that debacle, dinner was served.

 

It was an excellent buffet, I must admit. There was a tender ham being

carved by the same cute boy that handed me the champagne upon entry, a

pork roast in apricot and pinenuts, a beef dish with baby mushrooms,

chicken, fish, and a series of salads including a delicious cucumber

salad with sesame oil dressing that I would have had seconds on if we

hadn't been among the last tables to be called to the buffet. There

were fresh oysters on the half-shell, rolls, asparagus, potatoes, and

green beans as well. It was, as I said, quite a nice spread. I was

still eating when "Richard Simmons" came out to entertain us. It was

then that I regretted the gun laws of this country. If I'd been back

in Oklahoma, that fucker would have been greeting his maker instead of

attempting to heap abuse upon the crowd. Instead, I shot him down with

the only weapon available to me...my mouth. Every time he'd ask a

rhetorical question, or make a comment, I would follow it with a

smartassed remark. As a result, the rest of the party would chuckle at

his "jokes," and then two seconds later, our table would roar at mine.

I'd love to tell you that I was brilliant, but it really didn't take

much effort on my part. He said something like "You know they say, you

are what you eat," and I said, "Then I must be a dick." etc. It was

actually one of my favorite set ups. I was sorta "on" that night

thanks to a bit of wine and an awareness that although they're

somewhat more open about sex in the media here, they don't actually

seem to be bold about DISCUSSING sexual things. So I was in my

element, trash talk and loving it. Besides, it's easy to entertain

engineers.

 

I was glowing like a horse from the heat of ninety people packed into

a room with no open windows, and desperate to get away from The Love

Boat crew, so I went outside for a breath of air. The restaurant is

right on the beach, and the rain had stopped for the night. It was

beautiful. I said to myself, "Well, you're at another silly ass

party...but you're at a silly assed party in NEW ZEALAND." Somehow

that made things so much better. Allan came out to join me and offered

me a cigarette. I couldn't resist. So we stood outside in the cool

evening air, smoking and talking about the differences in our cultures

and our language. He was a pleasant interesting man even if he did

have proverbially bad British teeth. After about fifteen minutes,

another guy (whose name I didn't catch) came out and joined us, then

Brian found us and dried his sweat with our tiny group of Love Boat

survivors. When we went back in, the dancing had begun, complete with

dry ice fog and disco lights. Need I say more?

 

There was a single solitary beautiful woman there (aside from myself,

of course) and I pointed her out to Brian, "look honey, a really

pretty Kiwi." Then I heard her speak. "Oops, I take it back, she's

Slavic." I went over to her and asked her in Russian if she was

Russian. " She got a huge grin on her face and told me (all of the

conversation was in Russian after this) that she was Bulgarian. I

apologised and told her that I didn't speak Bulgarian, but she assured

me that Russian was fine. Then she asked where I learned the language

and I told her at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey Calif. I

introduced myself, and she did the same, told me how wonderful it was

to hear a language she understood. I grinned at her, and said it was

great to be able to speak it again. I told her how pretty she was and

she smiled and said thanks, then I left. Later I found out that she

was the date of the biggest stockholder in the company.

 

I danced a bit with Brian and a few others at our table and then it

was time to call the taxi to go home. Brian introduced me to the

President of the company and his partner, and I told him to be

prepared to have his ass kicked at the company picnic on Wed.

Get this, they're playing softball and volleyball and most of them

don't even know the RULES much less have actually played. I, on the

other hand am probably one of the most competitive softball players

(at my age) you'll ever meet. I played for a semi-pro team back in my

wild youth and am rabid about the game. I'll report our results on

Thursday.

 

Our cab left Devonport and got on the motorway. Suddenly the lights of

Auckland were displayed before us. Sky Tower was lit up in various

shades of green, blue and purple with flashing lights, the boats were

shining in the harbour and I was once again thrilled with the beauty

of this city. "Isn't that a gorgeous city?" I asked the cabbie. He

agreed that it never failed to thrill him. "You should see it at dawn,

when the sun lights up the water," he remarked. "It's the most

beautiful city in the world." Anyone could tell that we were both

immigrants.