Nothing could be more middle-class than a cruise ship vacation. The telltale signs are all present: the women for whom decollete ceased to be advisable some years previously, the teenage girls teetering on high heels while chewing gum, the men wearing their caps at table, the "formal" dinner nights (must wear shoes), and, in the casual dining area, the plate piled high from the third trip to the buffet.
Middle-class to the core, I enjoy it. So when Kathleen's parents decided to celebrate their turning eighty with a family cruise to Bermuda, twelve of us altogether, I signed up gladly.
Mind you, I didn't drop so much as a quarter in the casino and bid on none of the appalling art being auctioned.* I resisted the temptations of the duty-free liquor and the tawdry jewelry. I was inveigled into attending only one imitation Las Vegas revue. Instead, I spent the days on deck, reading,** feeling the salty breeze on my face, and staring vacantly at the waves. And the evenings exercising my Twenty-First Amendment rights. For a practitioner of loafing, and I am an adept, a cruise ship is an ideal venue.
(It must be a fine venue for an anthropologist as well, a floating laboratory for observing the middle class attempting to ape the imagined leisure life of the quality.)
Bermuda? It was raining. Found a pub.
*School of Kinkade and that sort of thing. Motel lobby quality or worse.
**Robert Caro's The Years of Lyndon Johnson:The Passage of Power and David Lodge's imagined life of H.G. Wells, A Man of Parts, in case you were interested.
Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times