The Cruise

A Brooks Tale


‘Order another appetizer if you want one, they will bring you as many as you like,’ Jack said as he lustily consumed his second order of escargot.

When Jack had completed his appetizers and began his lobster, dipped in drawn butter, he periodically reached over to his wife, Jill’s, escargot plate and helped himself.

Mary Jane told Jack and Jill that we had visited the Vatican and had experienced a private tour.


Jack responded that he had been in both St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel…when they were completely empty…right after the war.



‘I toured the Colosseum, alone,’ said Jack.

‘During my first marriage…we went out to eat every night, in Manhattan, and attended Broadway shows, weekly,’ Jack informed me.

‘Would you care for more wine,’ asked the dinner steward?

‘I would, indeed,’ I solemnly intoned.

‘Where are you from,’ asked the former Disney artist, wife?

‘We are from Carbondale, Illinois…in the Southern part of the state, nearer St. Louis than Chicago,’ Mary Jane answered.

The artist’s wife…enthusiastically spoke of her family and her children and that she had home schooled…as we had.

As we all enjoyed the complimentary wine…the artist looked our way often and smiled approvingly.

The artist had been the lead person at Disney, for many years, in drawing all of the background scenes for the animation…prior to digital.

His paintings were beautiful.

Two women from North Carolina sat with us.  One was friendly…and the other was drunk.

They had been good friends for years, and could not have been more different.  The friendly one was shy and retiring and quiet.  The boisterous one was, loud and drunk and flirted with the art auctioneer.

At another dinner we were accompanied by two, seemingly, very religious people.  The woman began the conversation by announcing what art that they had purchased and then commanded that each couple do the same.

The wife then proceeded to tell us that she and her, devout, husband had not attended two thirds or more of the art events but rather had chosen to take in the evening theatre performances and to pursue their own interests…although their cruise had been paid for by the art company.

Their piety…proceeded them.

‘I was with two protestant soldiers that were from rural areas…probably like where you are from…Jay,’ said Jack.

‘I think that they may have been Presbyterian…or one of the protestant sects,, Jack continued.

‘They had no experience with sex…while I, being from Manhattan, was well versed in the subject,’ Jack went on to say.

‘I arranged for a prostitute to initiate one them into the club, and my buddy was so taken with the experience…that he soon married her, laughed Jack!

The Russian artist came over and knelt down by Mary Jane and I and spoke to us for several minutes.

He told us of the deprivation and suffering and hunger that he had known in Russia as he was attempting to paint and become a successful artist.

‘More red wine, sir,’ asked the sommelier?

‘Yes, please…fill it up…fill it up,’ I implored much as the uncle who was flying to Paris, along with the parents and siblings of  Macaulay Culkin’s character…who they left home alone,  in the movie ‘Home Alone’.

The financial planner was taking computer courses during the cruise to obtain his college degree.  He reflected that someone had remarked that they had a series of ‘old masters’ etchings in their home but that they drove a 1990 Chevy.  He said, ‘I like driving my Jaguar.’

‘This if food to die for,’ my buddy said.

On the first evening of our journey the steward had offered us a wine package of three bottles of fine wine, for $150.00.  These luscious and extravagant wines were to be distributed, one per evening to our dinner table.

My buddy was enjoying the ‘food to die for’ and the plush ambiance and the excitement of a journey…just beginning…and he said, I want to purchase one of those offers, as well!’

Now we knew…at this early point…that the cruise was going to be a success for our first time cruise mate!


Note: Some Sistine Chapel and Colosseum photos are courtesy of Google Search.





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