I didn’t mean to lie to my wife. That was not my intention at all when we had this exchange six or seven months ago.
“You’ve got nothing to worry about,” I told her as I put plans in motion for us to take a cruise to the Bahamas in late October or early November.
“Yeah right,” she responded.
“Well, you shouldn’t have much to worry about,” I quickly added, which should prove to anybody paying even remotely close attention that there was no intent to deceive my spouse whatsoever. I’m no idiot. Well, maybe I am, but I’m not stupid enough to try to put something over on Roselee Papandrea Taylor — not no way, not no how..
And hey, I’m in the newspaper racket. I try not to deal in absolutes. Anything can happen. Nothing in this life is a stone-cold lock.
What I was talking about at the time was the possibility of a hurricane. This had been a major topic of conversation ever since we learned that we had won a cruise to the Bahamas in a raffle conducted last year during the Christmas season. For me it was a major first. Up to that point I was among the millions in America who had never won a single solitary thing — no game shows, no car giveaways, no reverse drawings, no lotteries, no punch boards, no scratch and win Mountain Dews from McDonalds … well you get my drift. I do believe, however, that in a game of Monopoly once I did pass something known as Go and received $200 in bogus currency for my trouble. But it’s a fuzzy memory.
This particular raffle was a fund-raiser for a heart transplant survivors group of which my father is a member. So you know, it’s one damned tough club to join. The initiation alone is beyond the scope of what most can imagine. They’re a tough and determined bunch, those heart transplant people. Each year this organization has a Christmas party. Each year my mom buys about 50 tickets and divides them between my brother and me.
So I had the winning number last year. The prize? A cruise to the Bahamas, which included air fare to Miami. It was the deal of a lifetime.
There was a catch. We’d have to take the trip between August and Thanksgiving of this year.
As folks who lived along the coast for the past decade or more we were keenly aware that this period is the core of the Atlantic hurricane season.
“I live in hurricane-prone area,” my wife said in January before we even thought we’d be moving to Burlington. “I don’t want to vacation in one.”
“It’ll be fine,” I told her. “You’ve got nothing to worry about … well you shouldn’t have much to worry about.”
I told the travel agent to book us for something in the first week of November. I knew that even though hurricane season goes on to Nov. 30, the tropical systems become scarcer starting in late October. She said she could offer an extra day at sea at the same price if we wanted to go to Key West Fla. and Cozumel, Mexico instead of the Bahamas.
We took her up on it. That turned out to be a good move.
Anybody who followed the news last week would surely know that Tropical Storm/Hurricane Noel wreaked havoc in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba before heading into the Bahamas at about the point we would’ve been there. As it turned out, we had rough seas — particularly as we made the trip back from Mexico to Miami. People on board the Carnival cruise liner Fascination spent Thursday lurching around upon the decks like somebody on a three-day drinking binge, which of course many were. In this case, however, the sober ones were doing the staggering. The bingers made like Johnny Cash and walked the line. Me? I fell somewhere in between — without actually falling of course.
Up to that point, my wife didn’t know much about Noel because, well, I kept it from her. I tracked the storm before we left RDU on Sunday then studied it more in the Miami Herald on the Monday we set sail. I figured it would only be a potential problem for us upon our return to Miami on Friday, if at all. I deftly folded the newspaper and, well, put it some place where she couldn’t find it.
Why worry her for nothing.
The sea was a little choppy en route to Mexico but nothing too out of the norm, according to some of the veteran cruisers I spoke to. Nobody at all was talking storm and on board the ship the only newspaper was the in-house publication advertising where the free drink specials and Mexican buffets could be found that day. You could search forever and not find a discouraging word in it.
But on Thursday as we headed back to Miami things got decidedly rougher. Seas ranged from 7 to 9 feet. They cancelled one of those shipboard musical revues because the cruise folks were afraid the dancers could harm themselves in what could only be classified as another needless break-dancing maimfest. I contend that a couple of Margaritas and they would have been perfectly fine. Hey nobody asked.
“So there’s a storm,” my wife asked when it was apparent that there was. Luckily I had monitored it through the Pursers Desk over the past couple of days.
“Yeah, but it’s in the Bahamas,” I told her. “It may clear Miami by the time we get back there tomorrow.
“Or it might not.”
“That’s a good answer,” she said.
By Thursday night the most updated info had the storm clear of Miami with only a possibility of lingering showers for our arrival on Friday morning. As it turned out, we were greeted with sunshine and only light winds. Perfect.
Got me off the hook with my wife, too. One thing I’ve learned about hurricanes after riding out about six, you can’t predict what they’ll do or when they’ll come.
“It’s a good thing you didn’t tell me,” she said. “I’d have been worried sick.”
“I’m just glad we didn’t go the Bahamas.”
NOTE TO READERS: I’ll post some observations about our first cruise later in the week.