Writing on short time before the cruise

by Brian Clarey

I’ll be honest with you:

I’m not feeling quite myself today. It seems I’ve come down with something – a nasty little bug that kicked in some time yesterday that’s got my head feeling light, my stomach boiling and my thoughts scattered everywhere, it seems, but the page.

I’ll give it a name: short-timer’s disease. And because of my affliction, I’m phoning it in today.

Tomorrow morning early my wife and I will board a plane for Florida, where we will within minutes embark on a seven-day cruise to points south, the first real trip we’ve taken together, just the two of us, since we became parents.

The trip neatly dovetails with our sixth wedding anniversary, and also comes at roughly the same time that the cumulative pressures of the years threaten to drive us absolutely bonkers.

It will be the first cruise I’ve ever taken, the first time, really, I’ve ever left the country unless you count those trips to Canada I took in high school.

I don’t.

Time was when I thought a cruise to be an unbelievably lame vacation choice. Give me Vegas, I thought. Give me Memphis. Give me San Francisco or Chicago or San Diego. Hell, give me New York. Give me some goddam action. But a cruise? Man, all you do is sit around and eat and try to avoid getting caught in conversations with old people.

Now, of course, sitting around and eating all day sounds like a fine old time to me. And I’ve since become one of those boring old loudmouths I used to avoid.

Yes, there’s that.

Excuse me a minute… I’m going to let my mind drift to the sea for a bit, anticipate the scattered sunlight across the surface of the ocean as viewed from the deck of our ship, the sun warming my face and the breeze blowing the care and worry from my soul even as it ruffles my hair and makes my eyes water….

Okay, I’m back.

I stopped by the Converge South barbecue last night at David Hoggard’s crib in the Aycock Historical District, a hundred folks or so milling around the front lawn, putting a hurt on the beer cooler and shoveling down what I declare the best chopped pork I have ever tasted. I’ll drop some names: Ed Cone, Roch Smith, Sue Polinsky, Jay Ovittore, Billy “The Blogging Poet” Jones, YES! Weekly columnist Kirk Ross, Stewart “Lenslinger” Pittman and this burly guy from Jersey with whom I had an extended conversation about the utility of the word “douchebag.”

High point of the evening: watching Rep. Brad Miller, in a starched white shirt and khakis, squirm while Jordan Green grilled him about this week’s cover story concerning the mysterious death of Dr. David Graham in Louisiana and a couple of guys who may have flown a plane into a building a few years ago (see story, page 11).

Crazy business, to be sure, but meticulously researched and vetted.

According to a reader’s poll in the current issue of Radar magazine, people who believe there’s something fishy about 9-11 outnumber Republicans in this country. Too bad they don’t vote.

A few of them snuck into the audience on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” which I watched last night, and disrupted the live broadcast. These folks were of the opinion that the Twin Towers were destroyed deliberately, with explosive charges planted at appropriate points in the architecture like they do when they implode old casinos in Vegas.

This is not the scenario posed by this week’s cover story, so I can’t speak to the validity of this theory, but I did appreciate Maher’s reaction to the obstreperous shouts from the crowd: “Do we have any fucking security in this building or do I have to go down there and kick this guy’s ass myself?” he said.

Maher, incidentally, is also from New Jersey….

Whoops. Drifted away again for a minute there, with visions in my head of shuffleboard, gambling tables, midnight buffets and iridescent cocktails made by a guy who looks like Isaac from “The Love Boat” when he wore that ridiculous swashbuckler’s uniform in the Pirate’s Cove bar.

I’m tellin’ ya – no cell phone reception, no internet access, not even a freakin’ mailbox, and I’m sure I’ll go crazy from information withdrawal in the first 24 hours. But I’m pretty sure I can remember how to relax, and I always know how to have a good time.

All I’ve got to do is file this column and I am out, as they say, like trout. I’m Audi 5000, gone like the last piece of cake, got an egg in my shoe and I’m gonna beat it.

And my word count tells me that this particular phoned-in column is over.

I’m gone, goodbye. And I’ll see you suckas next week.

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