Friday, July 6, 2012

Missing the Boat (Or…Wishing You Had.)

Missing the Boat (Or…Wishing You Had.)

It was supposed to have been a romantic moonlight cruise on the Potomac—at least that’s what I envisioned when I read the details of the Living Social deal that popped up in my e-mail.  An evening cruise on a yacht past the Kennedy Center, the National Monument and the Jefferson Memorial on a hot summer night sounded like just the ticket to break up a hum-drum week.  So I bought the deal, and Frank and I headed down to the Georgetown Waterfront on Tuesday night.

            Arriving about an hour and a half before embarkation, we had dinner at a pizzeria on 31st Street, spending the kind of money we’d normally spend for appetizers, entrees and dessert at Olive Garden—but the pizza (real Italian pizza) and Peroni beer was scrumptious.  Afterwards, we headed down to the waterfront for our cruise.  I guess I should’ve been warned by the predominately twenty-somethings in glittery thigh-high dresses and stilettos…but I just remember thinking how the instructions had said to wear “sensible shoes,” and how these young women must’ve missed that. 

            As we waited to board, lightning flickered in the west, and I was more concerned about getting wet and having to spend two hours onboard in soaked clothing than anything else—not to mention, getting stuck by lightning.  But as soon as I stepped onboard the yacht, I got my first clue that I just might’ve picked the wrong boat for our “romantic cruise.” 

            You ready to PAAARRTTTYYYY?” screamed a DJ in a booth to my left. 

            Cheers and whoops rang out from the glitter-stiletto crowd.  And techno music began to pound, drilling into my ears at the decibel of a 747 taking off.  A crowd had already gathered at the small bar where passengers turned in their free drink tickets; I quickly joined them.  If I didn’t get a margarita right now, I’d never survive this two-hour cruise. 

            By the time I got said margarita and joined Frank at one of the white sofas that lined both sides of the yacht, the dance floor was packed with gyrating, bouncing bodies whose attached mouths issued competing noise with the music—none of which I recognized.  Frank and I looked at each other, and although I’m not a mind-reader, I pretty much guessed what he was thinking.  It’s going to be a long two hours.

            I downed my margarita.  Outside, the storm had broken; lightning flashed and thunder boomed.  Rain slashed down, making it impossible to leave the tiny club floor without getting soaked.  Yes…it had finally dawned on me. We were on a floating nightclub. 

            On and on it went.  Music bled from one “song” to another—the only thing remotely recognizable to me was Maroon 5’s “Moves like Jagger.”  And maybe one Michael Jackson song.  The bodies on the dance floor continued to gyrate.  One girl in a skin-tight red dress with strategically cut-out slashes (revealing a lot of skin) caught my eye.  She seemed a bit subdued for such a sexy dress. Well…that didn’t last.  After a half-hour, she’d lost her inhibitions, and was really getting into the dancing…if you know what I mean.

            It was still pouring rain outside, so Frank and I kept our seats on the sofa, sipping our drinks and half-heartedly bopping our heads to the “music.”  (We didn’t want to look like complete morons!)  Suddenly this dread-locked young man came over to us and asked if we’d “pose with the birthday girl.”  Turns out the girl in the gold-sequined dress was celebrating her 21st birthday.  Of course, we agreed, and he took our picture on each side of her.  All the time, I’m imagining her showing the photo to everyone and talking about the “old geezers” on a party boat. 

            Finally—thank the Lord God Almighy—the rain stopped and Frank and I were able to escape the dance hall and get out on deck.  A crewmember thoughtfully dried off seats for us, and for the next hour and a half, we sat out there and watched the planes fly over us (closely over us) to land at National Airport.  The night had turned out to be quite nice—still hot and humid, but pleasant.  A full moon glimmered through the cloud remnants, and even with the sound of the pounding music coming from the open doorways, it almost seemed like the kind of cruise I’d thought I’d booked.  We were even lucky enough to see fireworks set off from National Harbor. 

            Frank looked at his watch.  Ten to 11:00.  The two-hour cruise was almost over.  I’d survived.  And boy, wouldn’t this be a story to tell? 

Little did I know the story wasn’t over.

            After a few minutes, I looked around the dark river, and said, “Why aren’t we moving? Shouldn’t we be docking soon?”

            Frank took out his phone, checked the GPS and said, “Well, we’re about a mile and a half from where our car is parked.”

            And still, we weren’t moving. 

            A crewman stepped outside, and Frank hailed him.  “Isn’t this supposed to be a two-hour cruise?”

            The crewman beamed us a big smile.  “Oh, yes, but tonight we decided to make it a three-hour cruise just for you!”

            “Yay,” I said weakly.

            Of course, he was kidding—not about the three-hour cruise, but about it being in our honor.  He never did give us an explanation as to why our paperwork said two hours, but it was, in fact, a three-hour cruise.

            Nevertheless, it was what it was, and we had another fifty-five minutes to get through.  Honestly, it wasn’t horrible–we just sat outside—thank you, God, that the dry weather held out—and enjoyed the night. 

            Finally, we started heading back down the river toward the Kennedy Center (down, up…whatever) and a crewman asked everyone to step back inside until we docked.  So, back we went, among the bouncing bodies—music still going strong—and it was obvious there had been considerably more liquor consumed since we’d left.  I was standing near the bar, watching the dancers when this young woman approached me with a big smile.

            “Are you okay?” she asked.

            I looked at her blankly, then said.  “Yes.”

             “You sure?”

            By this time, I was starting to get just a bit irritated.  “Yes, I’m fine,” I snapped.  “Why?  Don’t I look fine?”
            She gave me a sympathetic look.  “Well, it just looks like you and your husband got on the wrong boat.  I hope you at least had a not too bad time.” 

            “Well, you’re right,” I said.  “It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.”

            “I guessed that,” she said.  “So, where y’all from?” 

            “Here,” I answered, trying to keep the edge out of my voice.  Her meaning was clear.  Clueless tourists. 

She looked horrified.  “Oh!  That makes it even worse!”

I just gave her a cool smile and turned away.  Okay, maybe she was just trying to be nice, but seriously, I know condescension when I hear it.  I may be old(er) but I’m not stupid. 

After docking a few minutes later, Frank and I stepped off the yacht, eager to get back to our suburban life where the music we listen to actually makes sense. 

Made it home by 1:30, and I fell into bed and slept like a rock.

Maybe next time, I’ll read the fine print of the Living Social deals a little bit more carefully.  Because we sure missed the boat on this one.

Or wish we had.