In Which I Write A Guest Post For Someone Else

A couple of weeks ago, I told you that I would link to a blog post I wrote for Martie, my sister. I didn’t do that because she didn’t post my blog right away, and then when she did, I had written up a bunch of stuff for you about my cruise. I’m not done talking about that yet – everybody knows that there is food galore on one of those ships and I MUST tell you about it – but in the interim, I thought you’d like to read about makeup. Boys, I know you cannot wait.

Anywho, below is the link to Martie’s blog but my writing. And while you are checking that out, Martie has an Etsy shop with some super nice stuff so check that out as well.

Martie’s Blog

Martie’s Shop

I’ll write at you again soon. SPOILER ALERT: I talk about chocolate!

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Tropical Cruise Part Three: Furfur

Y’all, it looks like I’m getting married. I have been proposed to. A few people told me before I left on this cruise that they either met their husband on a cruise or they know someone who met their husband on a cruise, and so I was expectant. I had high hopes for this trip and they came true!

Before I ever even got out of Nashville, I met a man who I could tell had an interest in me. You know how you just know sometimes? Our eyes met across a crowded airport and he began a slow lumber over towards me, making a beeline (turtleline?) for the available seat next to me.

“I’m going to pick up a rig,” he said by way of introduction. “My boss is sending me to Kansas to drive it back. I do this for a living and I almost never have to fly but this here is a special deal, a real emergency, so I’ll be driving back just as soon as I pick it up.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” I said, and then turned back to my book.

“I make a real good living doing this,” he continued. “I make $77,000 a year before expenses, about $55,000 a year after which is real good. You shoulda known me when I was working for the Opryland hotel, though. Over there I’d get $2 a bag ever time I drove somebody somewhere. That really adds up. I made a lot of money.”

“Really,” I said, and then turned back to my book.

“Yeah, my boss, he trusts me to do the driving. I’m his best driver. He’s having an emergency at home right now or he’d be the one picking up this rig but I’m going out there. I just hate having to spend money on food in these places. I mean, a sandwich here is so much money. I wisht I could have brought some McDonald’s in here. Security is tough.” And then he kicked his Coca-Cola lunch box.

“Right, yes. Actually, I do need to get something to eat before I leave, though, so have a safe trip.” And I was off like a shot.

So that wasn’t the guy. Also, remind me to stop making eye contact with strangers.

Remember Kevin and George, our driver and tour guide in Honduras? Kevin didn’t speak much English beyond “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” and George really had a monologue going, mmm hmmm, so all in all, we didn’t get to know each other very well. After spending the better part of a day with them and arriving back to the ship alive, though, we felt connected. As we were driving back to port, George started hinting that Kevin had a little crush on one of us. He didn’t spill all the details at first because Kevin was still driving and I could see his cheeks getting pink.

All of us in Big Pimpin’ immediately guessed who Kevin was digging on and started the singsong “Squash has got a boyfriend, Squash has got a boyfriend” in our heads, just waiting until we could get her alone to tease her. She’s kind of the resident hottie. We pulled into the parking lot, opened the doors and handed our bags and hands out the doors so that George and Kevin could help us get out. Just as Kevin was grasping my hand, I heard Woney and Nurse Bananahammock from the other side of Big Pimpin’, “Oh, Jimmie! George says he likes the one in white shorts!”

“Sure,” I said, then realized that I was the only one of us wearing white shorts. You shouldn’t feel bad for Squash, though, as she already has a lovely husband. She can’t win them all.

Suddenly Kevin and I were both red-faced. He let go of my hand and jumped into Big Pimpin’ and sped off, his cheeks rosy and his teeth shining in a huge grin.

As we walked with George to the local watering hole, George resumed his running monologue by saying, “Kevin, he kept talking about the girl in the white shorts. He said he would leave his girlfriend RIGHT NOW and marry her. He said she was so pretty. So, what do you think? You like Kevin?”

Y’all, what could I say? I mean, Kevin owns Big Pimpin’, or at least drives it like he owns it. We didn’t die in Honduras in a van so I conclude that he is a good driver. He and George did come back to pick us up from the touristy beach. He’s reliable. This is good information about Kevin. This could work. I have no idea what my new last name is going to be or how, exactly, I am going to get my car over there, but I feel good about it. Should I wait for a ring, do you think?

Fiance Kevin, Bride Jimmie, and Best Man George

Fiance Kevin, Bride Jimmie, and Best Man George

Actually, one of the best nights on the cruise was the night we watched a couple get engaged. We were at the game show knock off thingy and I decided that dancing to the live band beforehand was a great idea. I drug Nurse Bananahammock with me over to the only other person dancing and for two whole minutes we brought the house down with our moves. And then we realized we were alone and were going to remain alone and so the three of us wandered back to our seats to wait for the game show to start.

On the final round of the definition guess, comedian Tim Kaminski stood up to give his definition of the word. He requested audience participation and grabbed a man nearby who had his hand raised. The man grabbed his girlfriend who just happened to be the stranger I was dancing with earlier, and they walked to the stage. Tim was explaining his definition and said as he handed the mic over to the guy he said, “It’s better if you demonstrate it. First you have to get down on one knee and then you have to take the microphone.” I knew. I knew right away. Oh, it was so exciting!

The guy had planned it all in advance, it seems, and the girlfriend had no idea. The next day she probably regretted the fact that she was completely hammered but it was very sweet and she cried and I cried and then realized that the two of us were alone in that, so I stopped. It just made me so happy. I love stuff like that.

Anyway, back to me. I was thinking, should I register at Target? Or Bed, Bath and Beyond? Do they ship internationally, do you think?

With regards to our game, we still have nary a winner. The correct answer is (A), the prancing of a horse. I knew Madre would get it so her answer doesn’t count for a prize. Next question:

Define furfur.

A. The stud mink at the mink breeding farm
B. Dandruff
C. An ivy-like plant used in landscaping

No cheating, leave a comment, yada yada. Please and thank you.

Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . .

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Tropical Cruise Part Two: Tittup

For those of you that think My Girls and I just lolled around sunbathing and being entertained on a boat for a week, I’ll have you know that we did more than that. We also sunbathed and were entertained outside of the boat, although you wouldn’t be able to tell it by looking at my skin. The last day of our vacation, Nurse Bananahammock said, “Why are you still so white? We’ve been in the sun for seven days.” Sigh. This is my lot in life, I suppose.

Our superfun TROPICAL vacation included four port stops, and that was the part I was so fuzzy on before leaving. I knew we were going to Central America/Mexico but where in CA/Mexico I could not have told you. Every day at port, I’d be all surprised and excited having discovered that “today we are in Honduras!” Oh, it was like Christmas. Even more so because I got a lot of loot at every stop, mostly in the form of earrings.

Belize

Belize

Our first stop was Honduras, the island of Roatan. It was my favorite port, and I have a story to tell about that. We also stopped in Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel. The four of us did separate excursions in Cozumel, Woney and I opting for the lazy one which included a beach front, lounge chairs, umbrellas, a buffet and drinks brought to us by a waiter every five minutes, and Squash and Nurse Bananahammock opting for the more active excursion which began with snorkeling. Later they got to lie on the same beach in the same lounge chairs with the same umbrellas but I personally feel like I got the better deal there because Woney and I left the beach first and got to go take a nap. I’m telling you, I was a limp noodle by the end of that vacation. I haven’t napped that much since college.

Honduras

Honduras

While I am a total beach girl and it would make sense that Cozumel was my favorite, the visit in Roatan won my heart because there we got to see real Roatan life, not just the tourist shops and beaches. The four of us wandered around for a bit looking at earrings and crappy t-shirts and then were approached no less than five times by “tour guides” wanting to show us around the island. It sounded like a good, safe idea, no way would we get scammed or robbed, so we opted for salesman Junior in kiosk five and handed over a hundred bucks for a:

–Personal driver
–Personal tour guide
–Private car
–Four hour tour

Junior and Jimmie

Junior and Jimmie

Junior introduced us to Kevin, the driver, and George, the tour guide, and then we walked out to our private car, which y’all? No. Our private car was less of a car and more of a van but a van with a shattered windshield and a collapsing headliner. Nurse Bananahammock and I wiggled our way into the back of the van and prepared to view Roatan through the back tinted windows as the dangling headliner caressed our foreheads at every pothole in the road, of which there were many. Someone at some point had made an attempt to reattach the headliner with thumbtacks that were dotted every six inches or so but that was mostly ineffective. The shattered windshield obviously had some sort of hole in it but we could not see it due to the magazine page that was beautifully taped over the hole. It was a pretty magazine page. So we were stylin’. I christened the van Big Pimpin’, and off we drove for our four hour tour.

Please note the headliner

Please note the headliner

As soon as we pulled out of the gate and onto a real Roatan road, George twisted around in his seat and began a running monologue that went something like this:

“Honduras is made up of three islands, Roatan is the biggest, and we don’t have any crime here, mmm hmmm. We don’t have no drinking age, that’s probably why, mmm hmmm.” Pause. “There are about 116,000 people who live here, mmm hmmm,” pause “and our economy is driven by tourism and fishing, mmm hmmm.” Pause. “The kids, they go to school in shifts, mmm hmmm, and that way if you have to go to work you can still go to school at night. Mmm hmmm.” Pause. “I have a daughter and her name is Hailey and I have her name tattooed right here, see? Mmm hmmm.”

Every time he would “mmm hmmm”, and for the record the “mmm hmmm” was akin to Billy Bob Thornton’s “mmm hmmm” in Slingblade, George would pause and nod his head. He was stuffed full of charisma, though, and I’m afraid we learned more about his personal life than we did about Honduras as a whole.

View from a bar

View from a bar

Our four hour tour included a stop at a local tourist trap souvenir store and a tourist trap beach hangout that served overpriced food and beverages. While the girls and I sat under a palm tree eating burritos, George and Kevin drove off to “purchase gasoline.” I’m assuming that was a euphemism for something but I wasn’t very keen to find out. I mean, we had already stopped for fuel once on our four-hour tour, and only 30 minutes of that tour included the drive in Big Pimpin’, so why they needed to go off again in search of it we could not fathom. However, George left his phone with us as collateral to reassure us that he would come back for us.

Let’s recap here. Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney and I paid strangers, only one of which spoke English, $100 to drive us around a foreign island in a van that probably came out of a scrap yard only to be left on a beach with an ineffective waiter and no way of contacting anyone, especially George because he left his phone with us. We then tipped these strangers for not killing us, either in a vehicular manslaughter type accident or with a machete made out of a palm tree and a conch shell. The consensus was that we totally got ripped off, but again, this was my favorite stop. It was fantastic!

Kevin, Jimmie, George

Kevin, Jimmie, George

Truthfully, my favorite part of any venture into a new place is the people I meet. We met a lot of interesting people in Honduras. What a friendly bunch they were. I think the thing that most impressed me about every port, Honduras, Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel, was the pride the citizens took in their home. We didn’t meet a single person who wasn’t ecstatic about where they lived. And the care that they took with each other – anything they could do to benefit another business or another person, they did it. Perhaps it was because we were so festive ourselves, or perhaps they just saw us as walking dollar signs, but there wasn’t a single person I met that wasn’t super jazzed about sharing their lives with us.

My favorite photo

My favorite photo

As for the prize for yesterday’s competition, we didn’t have nary a winner. Madre guessed it but she gets lunch with me all the time, plus she already got two pair of the earrings I brought back with me. I’ll have you know that the rest of the audience all picked the same answer you did, (B), but a lobcock is a dull or boring person. Next up:

What does tittup mean?
A. The prancing of a horse
B. The practice of serving cocktails before dinner
C. A tropical bird, native to Caribbean climates

Same rules apply: no cheating, and please leave your answer in the comments section.

Crab

Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . . every little thing . . . . is gonna be alright . . . . More

TROPICAL CRUISE, Part One: Lobcock

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Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . every little thing . . . . is gonna be alright . . . . .

That song greeted the four of us as we clambered aboard the Norwegian Dawn, ready for our week of vacationing in the tropical sun to commence. Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney and I took to that boat like a fish takes to water (for the most part anyway – there was a slight bit of barfer-ness on my part), and soon found ourselves with two buckets of beer, a rattan table, and a lot of people wearing resort wear to watch.

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Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . .

Yeah, that’s catchy.

For those of you not in the know, cruise ships offer a lot in the entertainment department. Really, what are you going to do with 2796 other strangers on a moving city in the middle of the ocean besides be entertained whilst sipping on a cocktail in the sunshine as you (attempt to) get a suntan? Here I must ask you, though. What exactly does it take to get oneself a gig as a lounge singer on a cruise ship? Because if Joy, the woman shouting out the above song at the top of her lungs into a sound system that surely was designed to project sound in a venue MUCH larger than ours, was any indication, one only needs the ability to smile in a perma grin for seven days straight, have gigantic hair (even too big for me, if you can imagine), the ability to sway back and forth with your arms outstretched to any song the band plays, no matter the tempo or rhythm, and also a plethora of pants that fit you like a second skin from waist to knee and from knee to the floor in a violent flare reminiscent of a fish fin.

Every little thing . . . . is gonna be alright . . .

Still catchy. Right? WRONG! Seven days of that song, and in those seven days every time a meal was served or a drink was ordered or a kid jumped into the pool, Joy was up on the lido deck stage warbling about “Don’t worry . . .” Day one was great. By day seven we were ready to stab her with a shrimp fork right into her vocal nodes.

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Speaking of entertainment, on our first night we were introduced via a variety show to Jose (pronounced Joe-say) and Patti, a lovely couple from New York who also found themselves in possession of a sweet gig on the Norwegian Dawn, one show every night and free reign to perform whatever they liked.

“By the end of this cruise, you will love Joe-say and Patti,” assured Dan Dan, our cruise director. “They are fabulous!”

Joe-say and Patti made their grand entrance onto the stage and started belting out their first tune. Patti was shimmying all over the stage, hopping around in her sassy, strappy Mary Janes, and whipping her hair all around. Often she would throw up her hands in the rock star gesture, two fingers out and head bang just ever so slightly. What was incongruous, though, is that Joe-say and Patti were singing “I Only Want to be with You,” a song decidedly not meant for the rock star fingers, nor the head banging. Woney looked at me with her eyebrows raised and Nurse Bananahammock snorted. And then Squash said, “You know, Joe-say looks a bit like Stephen King.” We all analyzed him and decided that yes, there was a definite resemblance except where Stephen King has some talent to detract from his admittedly odd appearance, Joe-say does not. Sure, he could holler out some songs with gusto but in a way that people enjoyed them? Not so much.

I am sorry to say that we, most assuredly, did not love Joe-say and Patti by the end of the cruise. Matter of fact, we did our level best to avoid whatever area of the boat in which they were performing. I think we might be in the wrong age bracket, though. Turns out the senior citizens on our ship loved them.

I sound like an old crone here, don’t I? I’m not. Truth is, we saw some really excellent performances during the week. Tim Kaminski did a fantastic comedy show that I Highly Recommend if you want to see a bunch of strangers make fools of themselves – something everyone should strive for on vacation. I have no idea if you can see him outside of the Norwegian ships but try to YouTube him or something. He’s hilarious!

We also watched some kind of Bollywood something or other. It was a bunch of dancing and singing with an Indian flair, and what I took away from that is a lot of people have muscles that I didn’t know existed. One couple who performed in the Bollywood show had their own Cirque de Soleil-type show the next night which Woney and I very much wanted to see. After watching that couple do the splits on top of each other, the husband hanging upside down in some silks with only his feet holding him up, and the wife doing the splits on top of his splits only right side up and both of them swinging around in a circle above the stage, I felt that perhaps the time has arrived for me to incorporate a stretching program into my workout routine. I mean, I can’t cross my legs with any comfort because my hamstrings are so tight and these two are holding themselves parallel to the floor ONLY USING THEIR ABS AND THEIR FEET. I never felt more American in all my life. I have no idea if you can see them but in case you want to look them up, their names are Alexei and Sally. Have mercy, Alexei is probably the most beautiful man I have ever had the fortune to clap my eyes on. His muscles are astonishing.

A final word about the entertainment on our boat. According to Squash’s father, Norwegian has a GREAT library so we sniffed that out, too. Why you need a GREAT library on a cruise ship is a little beyond me, but he was pretty passionate about it so we felt like it was a necessary thing to discover. You know what? When we found it, it was great. Highly Recommend the library. I never thought I’d say that about a cruise ship.

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To end, I’m going to ask you to play a game with me. One night on the cruise we attended a game show knockoff thingy (I cannot help it – I have no television). Three of the “celebrities” on the ship would give a definition to a word and the audience tried to guess which “celebrity” got it right.

Without looking it up (don’t be a cheater, c’mon), what is the answer to the below? Winner gets a prize or lunch with me or something. I’ll figure it out. (Compelling, no?)

What is a lobcock?

A. A device used to make a musical instrument like a trumpet or flute longer to achieve different sounds
B. A boring person
C. The person who serves the birdie in badminton

Give your answer and I’ll announce the winner on the next entry.

Don’t worry . . . . about a thing . . . . every little thing . . . . is gonna be alright . . . .

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The Story Of Us

From left to right:  Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney, and your favorite, Jimmie

From left to right: Squash, Nurse Bananahammock, Woney, and Jimmie

Did I ever tell you guys how Woney and I met? Doesn’t matter, I’m going to tell you anyway. I’m also going to tell you how I met Squash and Nurse Bananahammock because it’s all related.

You guys ever have one of those days where you think to yourself, “Screw it. A whole giant bag of M&Ms is a great idea and ima eat it, all right now. I don’t care if I’m a porker.” Y’all ever do that? Well I do, and I was having one of those rocky patches where I was passionate about M&Ms on a regular basis and I knew I needed an intervention. I logged onto the Weight Watchers message boards and threw out a request for a diet coach. I wanted a stranger who would not be nice to me and tell me that I deserved that giant bag of M&Ms when I clearly did not need them. I wanted someone stern and willing to listen and someone who understood what I was struggling with. Woney, a complete and total stranger to me, responded with “Hey, why not? I’m in.”

Meeting strangers in person after meeting online is always fun I say, so I flew out to San Diego to meet her not long after our initial email exchange; once we established that neither of us were ax murderers or glitter eyeliner thieves, we began traveling together. We average at least four trips a year although now that she’s in Mississippi we get together more often. Oh, and for the record, we diet-coached each other for approximately three minutes before we gave up all pretenses about those giant bags of M&Ms.

About 18 months ago, Woney invited me to a web page where a group of women gather on social media to list three good things every day. It was a practice started on those Weight Watcher message boards long ago, and it gravitated over into other non-weight-loss-related sites. Through that page I met more strangers, two of which you know as Squash and Nurse Bananahammock.

As an aside here, right before I flew to Tampa to meet strangers, someone asked me, “Aren’t you scared? You don’t know anything about them! I’d be so afraid!”

Y’all, it never occurred to me to be afraid. I think of strangers as friends I have not yet met and that there was a golden opportunity to meet some new friends. Plus, Woney already knew them and she was still alive and in possession of her glitter eyeliner. Plus, Florida. There was no question about my going to meet them. The only question was “how often?”

Tampa was our first visit together. My house for Memorial Day was the next. A trip to Memphis for Woney’s 50th birthday was our third. I missed the fourth one because of my filth-flarn car. The fifth one was this cruise.

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Just so that you fully understand me and My Girls, another story is in order.

When we got together at my house for Memorial Day last year, we all arrived at staggered times. Squash and Woney flew in early while I was still at work. By the time I got home, they had already consumed pineapple mimosas (two apiece) for brunch and rum and Cokes (they lost count) for dinner. Also by the time I got home, they had each signed up for a half marathon (happening next month, y’all). Nurse Bananahammock drove in later that evening. By the time she got there, I had had enough rum and Coke cocktails to make me loopy (one) and had signed up for the same half marathon. Paid for it and everything. When Nurse Bananahammock realized how behind she was, she, too, had some cocktails and signed up for the half marathon. And then we had food and movies and more cocktails. It was a great weekend.

About a month or so after that trip, I realized I had a coffee grinder in my kitchen. I don’t own a coffee pot and so I assumed that Woney brought the grinder along with her coffee pot for use at my house.

I texted her, “I have your coffee grinder.”

She texted back, “I don’t have a coffee grinder. It’s not mine.”

Huh. So a few days later I texted Squash and Nurse Bananahammock. “I have somebody’s coffee grinder. You left it at my house.”

Return texts said, “Nope, not mine.”

Huh. I thought about that for a while, completely perplexed. Why in the world was there a coffee grinder in my house?

About a month later I texted Luke about it. I have no idea why. “Do I have your coffee grinder,” I asked, “and if so, why?”

Instantly he texted back, “You guys needed to grind something. Pretty sure it involved alcohol.”

Y’all, not one of us remembers this. No inkling whatsoever of what we were grinding. We, apparently, were diligent in cleaning the grinder out because it was just as sparkly as the day it was new. We are still utterly dumbfounded, and poor Luke. I do vaguely recall making him watch girl movies with us and asking him to hand over his supply of butter for our corn. Oh, the stories he could tell. Oh, the stories I wish I could remember to tell.

Anyway, I’ll be blogging at you soon about this fabulous, wonderful, gorgeous TROPICAL vacation we had. I’m collecting my thoughts and all our photos and trying to gently explain to you that the sweet innocent person you know as Jimmie tends to disappear when she hangs out with Her Girls. Hang on for me, would ya? I’ll be right back.

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