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    “When all else fails, there is music. When that fails you, there is beer.”
    (James Hauenstein.)

    After landing in Seattle, my friend Paula and I tried to find where the airline folks had hidden our luggage. The airport directions were a mystery, and the only sign we understood was, “escalator out of order.” Then began the adventure of riding several elevators up and down until we discovered our luggage. Schlepping four suitcases across a bridge, we took another elevator up and then one more down until we finally found the taxi stand. We arrived at our hotel just in time to enjoy dinner in their obscenely expensive but delicious French restaurant.

    The next day, we took a tour of the Emerald City with a stop at Pike’s Place Market, where we watched the famous fish mongers toss fish over the heads of tourists. Then it was time to go from shore to ship for our cruise to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. I could go on and on about how pleased we were with the cabin, the food, the tours, the service and most of our eighty fellow passengers, but it is always more fun to write about the less than perfect part of a trip—-which in this case was marketed as “evening entertainment.”

    In all fairness, a small ship sailing to little historical villages has a choice of local musicians, and some have little ear appeal. For instance, the first night, after a welcoming cocktail party and delicious dinner, we were submitted to a barbershop quartet. The only time I ever enjoyed a barbershop quartet was when I saw, THE MUSIC MAN, and the quartet sang, “Lida Rose.” And, as far as I know, “quartet,” means “four.” This group had 20 enthusiastic men, who I assume had 20 enthusiastic wives who were overjoyed to get them out of the house. They were followed by a “swing group” who started playing together, ended up together, but managed to get lost somewhere in between.

    Paula and I learned to sit in the back of the room in order to sneak out inconspicuously. The next night we were led in “Geographical Trivia.” It is an indisputable fact that Americans know little about the geography of our own Country let alone the geography of lower Mongolia, so the affable host of the game had to give us all of the answers as well as tossing prizes to those sitting closest to the front of the room.

    Then, after a beautiful day in the seaside town of Friday Harbor, and a visit to an alpaca farm, where we were greeted by fifty very sweet alpaca females (two, that the owner claimed had become pregnant through immaculate conception.) We then returned to the ship, and were once again treated to cocktails and a delicious meal followed by brain numbing BINGO!

    On the fourth night, after a visit to the breathtakingly beautiful Olympic National Park, we were treated to a “night full of music and laughter.” The taped music was good, but when the old guy with the ponytail started to impersonate the greatest singers of the past, the laughter unfortunately began. It reminded me of what Andy Rooney said, “We don’t need a lot of bad musicians filling the air with unnecessary sounds. Some of the professionals are bad enough.
    The singer was quite taken with his performance, and as he jumped about (microphone in hand) he did not notice that when he had last zipped his fly, his long Donald Trump tie had gotten caught. So every time he jumped Starboard, his tie waved at the Port side audience.
    When he rolled up his sleeves and whipped off his tie, I said to Paula, “Let’s get out of here before he opens his shirt!”

    The next two nights offered a pleasant respite from bad entertainment which is an oxymoron. A highly pregnant professional band singer from Seattle had come home to Port Angeles to deliver her baby, and we were the last gig on her schedule. Her voice was beautiful, but her repartee left something to be desired, when she held her protruding belly, and said, “There’s a diaphragm in there somewhere.  I have no idea where it went.” The Captain of our vessel was thrilled that her water did not break while she was singing the blues. The next night we were treated to a trio who played Zydeco (Cajun) music, and they were really good!

    The last night we left when the lady playing the washboard  handed more washboards out to the audience to accompany both her and the winded tuba player. Paula thought that packing our suitcases would be much more enjoyable.

    Don’t get me wrong!  Other than the entertainment, we really did have fun on our cruise. On my departing questionnaire, I rated everything as excellent, and I never did approach a performer to ask,”So, are you trying to be a musician?”

    Esther Blumenfeld (Sometimes the pause between the notes is the best part of the song) E.B.


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