Day 89 - Crew Talent Show

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
Trip End Dec 25, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Monday, December 3, 2007

We'd been awaiting this day for a long time. The crew's talent show had been advertised with a lot of notice and the whole ship was buzzing for it. I got the impression this was the crew's one chance to be real (or as real as can be achieved in a performance) in the presence of the passengers. My cabin steward, Nina, was sitting near me and I asked if she was doing anything. She just shook her head - rather emphatically - and held up her camera. Cheater. The program was a full A4 page long (and that's longer than 8 by 11, by the way) though, and there was going to be quite a show. Oh, how I wish I could remember everything. But I'll do my best to try.

The night before the talent show we'd been rehearsing for our own final showcase in the Starlight Lounge and the crew came up to practice. The whole crew. We moved into one of the annexes to get out of their way and not spoil the fun, and the next thing we know the blinds to all the windows are coming down and there are crewmen standing in front of each open window. Not only that, but we're locked in and the wooden doors to the annex have been closed over the glass ones. There would be no spoiling THIS surprise. When we finished rehearsing we had to negotiate our being let out of the room and weave our way through the half-uniformed, half-plainclothed crew to get out. That certainly built up the excitement.

Back to the night of the show. There were at least a dozen acts, and I won't remember them all, but there were a few I won't likely forget. Edwin was in a couple (remember my dining hall staff friend who asked me about my boyfriend?) - singing backup for a semi-rock kind-of-punk group that I couldn't really get into because I don't really like that stuff. They did play Santana though which was fun. The guitar player was really good - he's also the pastry chef, apparently, and the infamous fruit-carving artist. Not to mention the fact that he's quite good looking. Anyway Edwin also played a piano solo and sang a bit. His voice is nice but his piano playing is better, and I really enjoyed hearing him. There was also a rather silly little skit to music with a pair of lovers (the woman was actually a man in drag - there were several skits with a man in drag and it was always the same guy) involving wine and an interrupted affair and some thwarted intimacy. Then months went by and the woman got pregnant and gave birth (really awkwardly, it kinda made me squirm actually) to a teddy bear or some such thing. It was really rather ridiculous.

There were several big-group things, mostly either just singing or just dancing, and all of them had their stars and their, well, not stars. In one group all the guys were wearing red Hawaiian shirts. They sang several songs, some of which I knew and some I didn't, but now I can't remember what any of them were. They were good. There was also a group in sailor suits that did some fun choreography to stuff. There were two women in the whole group of performers and they were both probably 6 feet tall or more and really thin and of course were dressed in barely anything. That was kind of fun, since all we ever see them wearing is their uniform. It was really cool to see them all let loose. Karris, one of the people at Reception (he's from Jamaica) was the MC; I think he should have performed although I don't know what. He was really good too, and played along with some of the inside jokes from the voyage and I know he was having a good time.

The thing I remember most about the night was one particular singer - he sang Frank Sinatra of all things and he was fantastic. I can't remember what his crew position is unfortunately; I did a really poor job of getting to know the crew. I do know he's from the Philippines. And that he has an amazing voice. What really hit me though was what he told us before he sang - that his wife had just had a baby. Not two days before we had had another medical evacuation: Dana French, my Intercultural Communications professor. We evacuated him by coast guard boat to the Philippines. We had been that close - close enough to see the lights and the buildings in the middle of the night and close enough to hear the men from the boat yelling hello and welcome to the Philippines. I couldn't help thinking that he should have been on that Coast Guard boat, going home to his family, instead of here with us, singing his heart across the ocean. He sang a song about coming home, about love, and about longing; I can't remember the words or even the name of the song, but I can remember that. And I can remember the tears I know I heard in his voice when he got to the end. Everyone was screaming and whistling and clapping - and I was crying. It broke my heart. I thought of Nina and what she'd told me about hoping to go home after this voyage instead of finishing out her contract for the second as well. I thought of Edwin and something he'd told me about his son being better at using computers than he was. And I thought of my family, and wondered how you know where to be, and how to slake the travel lust and be near the people you love, who need you, at the same time. Writing this that much later, from a lonely room in an nearly empty cottage on a campus with just a few hardworking students left on it, I think of all the things I have missed and will miss before I get home, and I try hard to remember why it's worth it.

But then I think back to the energy in the room - the screams, the signs that said "We Love Our Crew" and "[Residential Community] Loves [Cabin Steward]" and I remember. It was amazing to get to share this with our wonderful, beloved crew, and I know that this is exactly why they did it. I'm sure it's something they do in every voyage, the one big event they plan for and practice for the entire trip, or for many trips, even. I know they didn't have instruments, and they'd have to come up to the Starlight lounge when we weren't using them and practice, or kidnap the guitars and take them downstairs late at night and have them back the next morning. If we'd known, we could have worked something out. Or if they were allowed to come upstairs and play when we're around, that would have made it all so much easier. What crime would it be for us to share space with them? As it is I can't avoid the words that separate us so effectively and completely. It's infuriating. If we were to have a reunion, it would be only right that they should come to, but that could never be thought of. I don't understand.

I should be glad that we had this opportunity to share something. I shouldn't be so melancholy about it but it just brought out all the separations that have been bugging me the whole time. Don't get me wrong it was a lot of fun and I'm really glad they were able to do it for us. It's important that we get to share all of these things and that they got to have the opportunity to perform for us. We had fun and I know they did too. Of course my camera was out of batteries. Of course. But the pictures are around; I saw hundreds of flashes go off that night. I just need to find them. It was a really special event for everybody.
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