This week I received a mailer promoting the RSVP transcontinental gay cruise on the Queen Mary 2 and my mind immediately flashed back to my first RSVP travel experience.
A couple of Christmases back, my friends John and KJ (hereto known as the Ubercouple) created a very memorable Holiday- they invited six of their friends to accompany them on an RSVP Cruise of the Mexican Riviera.
We were all tremendously touched and excited, and eagerly planned what would be a most memorable voyage. As it would be my first cruise aboard this particular line, I had lunch with a friend who had more cruise experience. "It's a great trip, you'll love it", Blair reassured me over sushi. "Too bad it's so hard to get a drink on that ship." I just about fell into my miso soup.
Okay, talk about a deal breaker. I immediately telephoned John and told him of my dire warning. Given how we collectively viewed Vodka as a food group, this would require a plan.
"I'll talk to KJ and call you back", he said, trying not to show too much concern. I imagined a Vodka ambulance meeting us at the docks. KJ thinks of everything. The next day, John called back very calm. "It'll be fine", he reassured." We'll just all bring two liters of Ketel in our luggage. That way, we can have a relaxing drink before dinner". Or before breakfast, if needed.
Soon we were on board and sailing away with a Bon Voyage party. We immediately noticed that others had probably made the same observation as Blair, because the cruise line had apparently stopped off in Singapore and filled the ship with Asian love slaves, young girls positioned every thirty feet or so who were taught to say "drinky, drinky". While this was very reassuring, it soon occurred to us that we were awash in booze. That night over dinner, we hatched a plan. We decided to have a massive private cocktail party the last night at sea and use it all up. That would give us a week to see how many people we could meet and invite.
I was all in favor of the party, but I reasoned, that if we were going to have a private cocktail party with smuggled booze aboard an Ocean Liner, the only civilized way to serve drinks was in stemware stolen from the ship itself. So that evening, after our round of Martinis, John had us fill the stems with water so they would not be cleared away. We stepped smartly out of the dining room with our Martini stems in our hands, and this began to amass glassware. My cabin was deemed the official stemware repository, because I had the least luggage, and my roommate, a drag queen from San Francisco, spent the entire week stoned on hashish brownies and so was unlikely to notice.
Our plan worked smartly although it did probably increase our vodka consumption somewhat. "Have another Martini", KJ would say. "We need the glassware". By midweek, my cabin clinked when people walked by in the hall. The nightclub chanteuse in the show lounge complained that all the big Martini stems had vanished. We looked sheepish in the front row and laughed about it later. We absolved our guilt by inviting her to the party.
The last night at sea, all was in readiness. I had spent the entire afternoon washing stemware, which was the price one pays for glamour. The party had grown way too large for John and KJ's suite, so KJ booked one of the lounges. For a private party. On board a gay cruise. And found a passenger whom he hired to play piano. Throw in a few trays of appetizers, a topless girl from Scotland, and a hundred newfound friends, and our little use-up-the-booze party probably ended up costing about the same as a base Hyundai. But we couldn't think of anyone off hand who would be seen in one anyway.
We abandoned the stems at the party, along with the remaining vodka. All that was missing was returned. When people asked about the cruise, we told that what a wonderful time we all had. "And the private parties were just the best- the Martinis were free!"