It’s that time of year. I listen dreamily to the beautiful cruises our friends are taking. Fabulous ports of call, elegant staterooms, exquisite food, warm climates.
Now go back a few years in time and envision a giant grey freighter, named The Keystone State. On board were a large steel and metal working crew, three passengers and not a single lounge chair.
My college roommate and I watched as our parents took their appropriately concerned last looks of us as we descended into a dinghy from the New York harbor, puttered out to the freighter, climbed up a steep rope ladder and were off to the other side of the Atlantic.
I don’t remember our sleeping quarters but staterooms they weren’t. The crew, as it turned out, could not have been nicer. They introduced us to Cuba Libras which we drank on a somewhat regular basis, in spite of our tender age. We had, actually, a lovely crossing.
We had planned to return on the same freighter with the same crew at the end of the summer so upon disembarking we asked if we could buy something for them to give to their wives, girlfriends, whatever. Perhaps a lovely scarf, some French perfume. No thank you they said but as long as we were going to be in Paris for a few days, could we pick up some pornography for them. Oh my….not what we had in mind. It wasn’t difficult to find. We just felt a little awkward buying it.
And then we felt even more awkward when we read it. That stuff made Fifty Shades of Grey look like Blueberries for Sal.
We had a lovely summer, working in London. Then the time came to return. At that point we had no money, a satchel full of pornography, two cricket bats,(that’s worth a thought or two), a pint of rum, a firm date to be back in school and we missed the boat! And there was nothing on the horizon that appeared even remotely accessible to get us home.
But my roommate’s father came to the rescue and got us space on another freighter, The Steel Fabricator, out of Bremerhaven, Germany. By that time, I was covered in hives and we reluctantly used the rum to ease the itching. We were also dead-heading…..think bar of Ivory soap tossed into the rough Atlantic Ocean.
We made it to Greenland and picked up fire trucks. Ballast is good and relieves that bouncy sea-sick-making thing. We were unaware of the Air Force Base when we got off the ship for a couple of hours. We met men who had not seen a female in way-too-long. Sue got five marriage proposals; I only got two.
College seemed a bit parochial when we returned. But the memories are good and that’s what matters.