Family Vacation and Fate

Robert Flournoy

Copyright 2023 by Robert Flournoy   

Photo courtesy of the author.
                                       Photo courtesy of the author.

In 2010 my daughter was a senior in college, my son having graduated two years earlier.  To celebrate we booked a cruise for adults only out of Ft Lauderdale, with an itinerary that took us to various islands in the Eastern Caribbean.  I coughed up the extra money to get us balcony suites, side by side, my wife and I in one and my children next to us. 

The balcony made all the difference we first time cruisers were to find out.  This might have been the most relaxing thing I have ever done, a few steps out our sliding door (which we slept with open) as the sun rose, a quick call to our cabin attendant, and coffee with breakfast was at our side within minutes, sea gulls soaring beside us, looking for a morsel.  The family time was immeasurably precious, but a couple of events during out time on board would make the trip memorable.

When we boarded, our luggage delivered to our rooms, my daughter insisted we take the welcome orientation where we were pitched on the various activities available to us during our week on the ocean, all which came with a stiff price. High on the list of ship priorities to make extra money, was the spa, an elegant floor of steam rooms, saunas, hot tubs, and massage services (staggeringly expensive). But, to entice everyone to use the spa's services, a raffle was held at the end of the presentation. Given away was a facial, a full body massage, and a mani/ pedicure. 

There were about forty people in the drawing, all expectant flat landers who would probably not be partaking of this pricy offering.  My daughter dutifully wrote each of our names on slips of paper and they went into the bowl along with everyone else's.  The first slip drawn, for the massage, was my daughter's name. She was jubilant and we were excited for her. The looks of disappointment on the faces of our fellow cruisers was palpable.  When my name was drawn next, there were groans and catcalls of "rigged", "only one to a family", etc. 

When my son's name was drawn for the third and final prize, I was actually embarrassed as the heckling grew, and some in the crowd were visibly upset.  We smiled graciously, and withdrew to our rooms under the hostile glares of all those present. They smelled a rat that wasn't there.  Back on deck we couldn't stop laughing. It was a wonderful way to start the voyage, but that night in the dining room we were subjected to some glares, as many understood the improbable odds that we had overcome.

The next day I was doing a power walk around the track on the 8th story of that magnificent ship when I passed a crowd of about fifty people seated under a canopy.  A demonstration of glass blowing was underway, and my timing was in synch for a drawing to give away the beautiful bowl that had been created. As the drawing was about to take place, I heard, "Daddy, come put your name in the hat". 

As I did this, I heard mutterings on "why don't you just give it to him", "oh look, it is the anointed family", and some other comments that came from those in the crowd that were still sore at our fortune the day before. Well, defying all odds of statistical probability, guess whose name was drawn? There were boos and minor curse words thrown my way as I accepted the bowl. I handed it to my daughter, and not being able to resist it, I turned to the crowd, did a Rocky on the steps dance, and said, "my work here is done" before  resuming my walk.  Fearing for the safety of my family, I glanced back, but they had high tailed it down the stairs. I think I saw a wadded up paper cup bounce off of my son's head as he laughingly walked away. 

Heads turned every single night at dinner for the rest of the cruise. Our most memorable dinner was, at his invite, at the table of an affable Texas "oilman" who stayed up late each night during the trip playing poker for high stakes in the game room. He said, "I want to touch each of you to change my luck at cards".  He bought us drinks and we had a merry old time in a sea of disgruntled fellow dinners.

I have always thought that being lucky was more desirable than being good :)  So far, it has held ;)

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