---- — After spending a week in the Caribbean on a cruise ship, I wondered if Sue had been intentionally starving me all these years. We never have mid-morning pastries at home. She never serves a dessert with lunch. And where is our late afternoon slice of pizza? Where is our before-dinner margarita and bar nuts? Where are our four-course meals nightly with wine? We don’t need a vacation; we need a chef.
I’m now wondering if it is possible for a human to go without food for three or even four hours. What will happen if we have to go five entire hours without something to eat? Surely that is just as deadly as eating the wrong part of the pufferfish.
It wasn’t until I saw how the other half ate that I realized how deprived I was. Why do I have to get up every morning and walk to the kitchen to have breakfast, when on the ship they brought it right to my room? I had the feeling they would cut it up and feed it to me if I had only thought to ask. Next time I will. Why waste my precious energy lifting a fork and a knife?
For years I’ve been trying to lose weight, watching what I eat, staying away from sweets, exercising, avoiding beer and liquor, always asking our hostess for “just a half a slice, please” when someone invited us out to dinner. Then when I get on board this ship, I realize that I’m the only person on the planet who’s doing that. Everyone else is having two of everything, snacking between meals, drinking liquor and beer, then doing it all over again the next day. And not only are they still alive, they’re wearing Speedos.
“I didn’t know Speedos came in that size,” I told Sue.
She responded, “Obviously, they don’t.”
It is clear to me now that I have been doing this eating thing all wrong. When my doctor said I should be eating a Mediterranean diet, I thought he meant eat the way they do in southern Europe: more fish and vegetables, less meat; more olive oil, less butter. Clearly what he really meant was, “Eat like you’re on a cruise in the Mediterranean.”
And it wasn’t as if I was getting no exercise. I can’t tell you how many times that week I had to reach out and hit the elevator button to get to the dining room. Often I would wait for another passenger to do it, but most of them were cruise veterans and knew how to wait me out. I also had to turn the pages of my own book between meals. Sheesh! I might as well have been at home.
When I told my friends I’d been on a cruise, the first thing most of them asked was “Did you get sick?” which is an odd question coming from my friends. They seem to forget that I’ve been in their kitchens and bathrooms, and if that doesn’t make me sick, nothing will. Bob told me once that his kitchen floor “was so clean you could eat off it.” And it certainly looks like he does. Besides, I wonder if some of the stomach flu we hear about on cruises really starts the plane ride to the port city. Every time I get on a plane, the moment the cabin door closes, the guy behind me starts blowing his nose and coughing deep, wet-sounding coughs. So three days later, if I got sick on the boat, would it be the cruise line’s fault?
Actually, I was kind of hoping I would catch something. It’s only way I will ever lose all the weight I gained.
Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life,” “Baby’s First Tattoo” and “Now in Paperback.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.