Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Supposedly Fun Thing


Even before I read David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, I was never tempted by the thought of going on a cruise. But this was before I found out that it was one of the few vacations that includes free daycare (with the exception of the grandparent “vacation,” but the easy grandparents were unavailable, and the exhausting ones, well, we did that last year).

Free daycare is great—if your child consents to participate. It can even be great if your child does not consent, provided that the daycare workers do not page you fifteen minutes into your idyll telling you that no, he has not “settled down,” and please come get him NOW, before he contaminates all the happy toddlers.

So, a cruise with a two and half year old stuck to one’s leg is probably different from a childfree cruise. But the ships still seem kind of hideous, I’ll bet. I don’t think my dislike of the artwork would have been any less keen, for instance. I would also wager that having the main shore stop cancelled due to high winds would not have been any less annoying. Perhaps more so: I know for a fact that the couple who had planned to be wed on shore—and had waiting guests and attendants who had traveled by air—were more upset about missing their own wedding than we were about getting on an actual, not perceptibly moving beach.

But there were some good moments. Sitting on the balcony reading the first novel I’ve finished in months while TrophyHusband was in the pool with HellBoy (who had a fabulous time, once he was sprung from the horrors of ship daycare); running on the track some thirteen stories above the blue ocean, uphill as the ship tilted one way, then downhill as it lurched back; sitting at the bar sipping a drink while HB stood transfixed by the string quartet for a full half hour. And I actually didn’t think much about work at all.

But I just found out that my assistant is getting an extra two weeks of maternity leave. I keep reminding myself that her baby probably needs her more than I do, but it doesn’t feel like he possibly could.

And yes, I am a bit compulsive about sun exposure, why do you ask?

17 comments:

Emmanuelle said...

mmm...maybe NOW you'll consider dog-sledding next year...

I'm sorry it sucked so bad.
But I'm glad you're back!

Shawnee said...

Just think it could have been a lot worse. Sorry you had such a bad time though.

KC said...

Prior to having our daughter, we went on a ton of cruises. Mainly because my parents are big fans and they'd take us. You can't argue with a free cruise.

I have to say, though, that since her birth, all I can think about is the vastness of the water and about going overboard by accident. That and explosive Norwalk outbreaks.

Maybe one day again...I kind of miss the intricate butter sculptures and the midnight buffets.

thumbscre.ws said...

That painting is eyeball-meltingly awful. It's like... it's like... I don't know. Hieronymous Bosch crossed with "The Joy of Sex"? Which would be The Joy of Sex For Which You Will Be Punished With An Eternity of Agonizing Torment?

Maybe they're trying to dissuade quick, sleazy nautical hookups.

And kudos for still wringing some enjoyment out of the trip despite the unexpected constant Hellish presence.

Orange said...

I have an overweight friend who recently went on a cruise with his overweight partner. Alas, they did not resist the siren song of free restaurant meals available 24 hours a day. They ate a lot.

I'm not drawn to cruises, though I've never tried one. I suppose being surrounded by the sea means more reflected UV rays and hence nonstop UV double-whammy exposure? Meh.

I hope that extra two weeks of maternity leave means two more weeks with that entertaining substitute.

FishyGirl said...

Delurking to say ick, that "artwork" is just....leaves me speechless. Criminy. So sorry you had such a rough time. And compulsivity about sun exposure is GOOD (from someone from a synchronized swimming family who spends a ton of time in the sun and who has family members who've had melanoma and the lesser skin cancers). I love your hat.

E. said...

I am so compulsive about sun exposure. Then again, I'm a redhead.

A cruise does sound like hell to me. I love that David Foster Wallace book, though. My favorite is the essay on the Illinois State Fair, particularly the passage on the clogging competition. It made me really want to see cloggers. (And then I got to, at the Grand Ole Opry!)

Snickollet said...

I confess that I love cruises. I have a very high tolerance for the cheesy (although that artwork, well, that's not cheesy it's just awful). Also, I suffer from a compulsion to DO EVERYTHING that is tamed by being on a boat. Somehow it's the ultimate in relaxation to me, although I've never taken a cruise with kids.

MJ said...

Ahh, c'mon. That artwork is...bad.

I've heard of others who had similar experiences with "free" childcare. Even when their children were much older. It seems that children just know that their paretns are trying to have fun. Which reminds me, I must call the babysitter.

bryan torre said...

My $.02:
Cruises w/o children: good-to-excellent.
Cruises with children: no idea, not motivated to find out.

I'm curious about the artwork. The reaction here has been universally "bleh" -- but not just "bleh" as in "I don't like it", it's "bleh" as in "it can't possibly be liked by anyone with even a smidgen of taste".
So, to anyone who cares, what is it about that painting that is so eyeball-meltingly awful that we have assigned it a value on a universal scale of goodness/badness rather than just saying we don't care for it...?

ozma said...

Oh my, that artwork!

I think it is supposed to inspire you to--I'm not sure. Stab our your eyes, perhaps?

Jess said...

Having seen your swimsuit-clad backside, I'm officially going to start running.

Jess

DoctorMama said...

Emmanuelle—I will reveal that you also said in an email: “as far as dogsledding is concerned, I'd like to point out that in the Great White North, we don't post signs with half-naked dogs making out!!!” And as I said to you, I wouldn’t be so sure that there are no signs featuring humping dogs in Quebec.

Shawnee—honestly, I didn’t have a BAD time. It just didn’t live up to some of my fantasies.

KC—it’s funny, a couple of people mentioned having the overboard fear with small children. Since we can’t really let him out of our sight—or grasp—anyplace, this didn’t worry me much. Most places on board he’d have had to work really hard at going over the edge. I think the fact that they try to make these ships safe for really wasted idiots makes them also pretty safe for toddlers. He would have been even safer if he’d stayed in the daycare center there, though: they have the place netted up like a huge birdcage. As for the Norwalk outbreak—well, that can happen in his daycare at home. In fact, it has. And you got butter sculptures? We were robbed!

thumbscre.ws—I confess that TH spent more time with HB than I. I managed to get in reading, a pedicure, and at least one nap—although that was coincident with HB’s, so maybe it doesn’t count.

Orange—I am glad that someone derives pleasure from the substitute. Yesterday I found out that she does not know how to “close” a Word document. She quits the whole program every time, apparently. She has also not learned how to successfully transfer phone calls to me.

FishyGirl—I know, isn’t the hat good? It’s North Face, bought on sale at EMS for $9.

E.—I actually tan easily despite purported Northern European heritage and blue eyes, and come from a long line of cancer-free sun worshippers, but I can’t stand getting even the slightest burn.

I forgot the clogging competition part. I have to pull that book out again. There is something surreal about clogging.

Snickollet—we too suffer from the compulsion to do everything on vacation, which is exactly one of the reasons we went on a cruise. And that was a good aspect of it. (There was a family with toddler twins on the cruise. THEY stayed at daycare perfectly happily, maybe because they had each other?)

MJ—I have to say, the daycare workers there did seem to be giving it a good try, so I think the blame for this does lie in HB’s knowing what we were up to.

bryan torre—“what is it about that painting that is so eyeball-meltingly awful that we have assigned it a value on a universal scale of goodness/badness rather than just saying we don't care for it...?” I think I’ll put this in another post rather than go on and on here. I wouldn’t go into this guy’s art opening and scream “YUCK!”, but if you aren’t allowed to say that you find a piece of artwork awful, I think the world would become rather bland. I don’t think that the folks agreeing with me here on the ugliness of this are necessarily passing judgment on those who might like it.

ozma—one thing they were hoping it would inspire us to is buy it: note the auction label on the corner. (No one snapped it up this cruise.)

Jess—though I would never discourage anyone from running, my backside came to me courtesy of my father, and I cannot guarantee any particular shape change due to running. But thanks. I think I look pretty dorky in this picture (who am I kidding? I know I look dorky), so it’s nice to have the positives pointed out.

Dr. Wannabe said...

How old is this substitute that she doesn't know how to do anything?!

PS - do you by any chance like the color orange?

Crystal said...

nice butt, doctormama.

anyhow, i am starting to think something's wrong with me because i DON'T think the art is horrible. i know it is cheesy. i know it looks like an unlikely position. however, i could never draw/paint/whatever-the-hell-that-is anything near that. maybe i have terrible taste in art.

or maybe i just need to get laid.

Lisa said...

I would rather eat dirt than go on a cruise -- I was in the caymans a few months ago and when seven -- SEVEN -- cruise ships pulled into the harbor and expelled their fleet of sunburned waddling masses; it was a dreadful sight.

You do, however, inspire me to work out a little bit more.

ethanbsmommy said...

Not that I don't love the sun top, but last years vacation picture was much hotter!
My sister leaves today on a cruise with two kids under 5 and a teenager with attitude. I'm going to wait to tell her about your experience.