It’s New Years Eve and I’m on a cruise ship and I’m sitting in my cabin watching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on mute. My two friends are with me. We’re all nursing tall gin and tonics and waiting for the pirate party to start on the top deck. Cruise director Jimmy claimed there would be fireworks at the party but in the two days we’ve been on board the ship Jimmy has proven to be a filthy liar.
“Mrrrraaaaaawwww,” I moan, imitating the actor who looks like a toad in a house fire. Water washes through the submarine and a giant squid waves its fleshy tentacles menacingly at Kirk Douglas. He laughs like a man making love and hurls a spear through the squid’s soft beak. We’re all pretty taken with him.
Fireworks beckon. The deck party is pirate themed in that various crew members have donned pirate garb while DJ Wendell spins all the hottest tracks of 2011. Carly Rae Jepsen bleeds from the vast speaker array and we scream all the words. Blackbeard must be somersaulting in his watery grave. Fireworks explode overhead even though it’s only 10 o’clock. The younger guests need to go to bed, I guess, so the parents can really cut loose for the actual New Year’s. God forbid little Timmy see Martha give George a New Year’s handy in the deck four men’s room! Guess that’s for our eyes only.
The pirate party degrades into some kind of Australian children’s TV show with DJ Wendell dancing through the tightly packed four-year-olds yelling hype words into the starry sky. “Yeah!” “Dance!” “All right!” For a 6’4 black man in a pirate costume he is suspiciously unselfconscious. Maybe he just doesn’t care anymore. We’re all pretty taken with him. Some of the girls we met the night before dance by us, gleefully saying HI HI HI before blushing and shuffling four feet away. One of them is named Seattle and told us her New Year’s resolution is to “get fit and get rich.” She’s wearing the kind of shorts that aren’t really there at all. I grip the railing and shout Katy Perry lyrics to the wind.
Suddenly, we’re back in the cabin, pouring more drinks more drinks and cranking up the tunes. Fuck those kids in bed, baby, I gotta sing “I”m On a Boat” because, damn it, I’m on a boat motherfucker don’t you ever forget.
Down to the lobby, a four story atrium filled with dressed up adults and ship monkeys serving flutes of champagne and prosecco. We grab glasses by the fistful, downing a flute in the time it takes to snatch another. This is free wine, damn it, the only free alcohol on board. We edge our way to the atrium railing, trying to get a view of the stage below. It looks like Goofy is dressed up as Father Time, which is unsettling on many levels. Mickey shouts something and the crowd cheers. Oh, it’s the countdown. Cruise director Jimmy is counting now, that fucker, as if he could even count.
Happy New Year’s! Some kid pours me more champagne, as if I really need it. I’ve had more flutes than all the symphony orchestras in the world.
We stream downstairs to the adults-only section of the cruise ship. It’s not blocked off or anything, and no one cards us when we order drinks, but it’s for adults. You can tell because they’re playing music with swears. The dance club is called Fathoms and it glows blue like the underside of an enormous jellyfish. Unlike the previous night, when the DJ spun to a dance floor so empty we thought we were attending a nerd bar mitzvah, people are actually drinking and dancing. To our well-lubricated minds it is paradise. I slide in like a sleek sloth on meth.
Seattle’s there, dancing with the other young things. Too young, I think, but I’m dancing with them anyways because it’s fun HAHA so fun. Some creepy guy keeps spinning through the dance floor, filming us all with a tiny camera, a great big grin on his face. Do you work for the cruise, guy? Is this going to be on the promo vids next year? I straighten my tie and do my best JT impression, slipping from shoe to shoe with a shoulder roll and a chin tuck.
An Asian girl enters my nexus and asks how old I am. Me? I’m 25. She laughs, surprised. How old do you think I am? she asks. I guess 22. She laughs again and announces she’s 19. Then she’s gone. Ominous.
I can’t dance right with this water bottle full of gin so I slam it and toss the bottle into the chairs. Fuel for the fire.
I’m really hitting my groove when a pair of girls break into the circle, asking the names of my friend and I. “I’m Dakota,” I say, and smile.
“Dakota?!” the girl shrieks, “That’s my sister’s name.”
The second girl looks at me and says her name, which is also my own. She’s hot, I think. Our eyes still locked, she steps forward, right onto my thigh. Oh, I exclaim quietly and we are dancing. No, no, this isn’t dancing, this is driving a Ferrari. No, no, this isn’t driving a Ferrari, this is being the passenger in a Ferrari while a stoned Stevie Wonder drives through a quarry full of hens.
It’s been a minute or an hour and our foreheads touch and it’s like, whoa that’s kinda sweaty. The camera guy swings by and gives me a thumbs up. I almost hurtle into him. I might leave the Earth’s orbit in a second. Where are my friends? They need to tie me down or something.
Then Dakota’s mouth is on my mouth and her tongue is snaking my intestines and I realize I just completed my New Year’s resolution.