Cassandra Graziano ‘Finally,’ I thought, removing the stiff, white lifejacket and handing it to one of the cruise employees. I glanced up at my Dad noticing, from his pained grimace, the same signs of hunger that I was currently feeling. The safety run-through was complete and we could finally head to the restaurant for a much needed dinner.
My Mom waved to us from one of the lobbies as we passed. I could see she had my little brother and sister already rounded up. ‘Now, we should take about twenty minutes to go get dressed for dinner, and then — ‘ she started.
‘We’ll be fine,’ my Dad blurted before she could finish. A mutual sigh of relief erupted from my siblings and I. But with every step closer to the restaurant I felt more and more out of place.
How fancy could dinner be? Apparently pretty fancy. The line to get into the restaurant was full of ties, dresses and flashy jewelry. At least we would be the only ones at our table and hopefully the other vacationers would be focusing on the delectable food in front on them.
Wrong. As we were brought to our table by the host, two other adults as well as three teenage girls were patiently awaiting our arrival. The girls looked roughly my age and adequately dressed with skirts and enough makeup to make Tammy Fae Baker look all-natural.They gave me a quick glimpse but then returned to their apparently urgent conversation, since they failed to greet my family.
However, the husband and wife couple welcomed us, eager to make conversation with my parents. I looked to my right at my little brother who was now completely engaged in devouring as much bread as possible which relentlessly teased me as it sat squarely in the center of the table. I turned to my sister giving her a look of hopelessness.The first course of Caesar salad came and went without any words exchanged between the teenage girls and I.
Forced to listen to my parent’s conversation, I learned that one of the girls was the daughter of the nice couple and the other two girls were her ‘bestest’ friends.’So,’ the daughter of the couple said as she turned to my little brother, ‘we’ve decided that your shirt is definitely totally cute.”Thanks,’ he said while chewing, looking up long enough from his plate to shoot a small piece of bread in their direction. Each of the girls flinched simultaneously, jerking their hands backward in shock of the deadly carbohydrate that had ejected from my brother’s mouth. I looked away and giggled feeling the soda carbonation in my mouth burn my nose.’And that was ‘definitely totally’ hilarious,’ I whispered to my sister.I looked back to see that the girls had literally isolated us from their conversation by blocking their exchange of dialogue with their hands.
This continued for the rest of dinner and through desert, when the only conversation in which I was privileged enough to participate was centered on their love of Gucci handbags. However ‘consumed’ I was with their discussion about material printed with a brand name and marked up eight thousand percent, I asked to be excused. At this point, a good book in the comfort of our room was sounding like heaven.’Wait,’ stated the blonde, ‘aren’t you coming to karaoke with us tonight?’ I wasn’t aware that karaoke was offered as an activity on the cruise, however I decided to decline.
Almost instantaneously, my Mom interjected, ‘Of course she’ll join you girls,’ while giving me a harsh glare that would not let me object. I rolled my eyes and agreed to join the bubble-headed trio.Upon arriving at the karaoke room, the girls and I took a seat on one of the purple couches which I sank into, but was immediately torn out of, being dragged by my wrists toward the DJ. Apparently we were going to sing a little ditty originally performed by none other than the Spice Girls. I shook my head violently. ‘No way’ I said, as I motioned back to my seat. I was forcibly restrained, however, and remained on the stage. For young girls, they were incredibly strong.
I looked at the screen which would soon be streaming lyrics. Of course I knew the words, I was in first grade when the Spice Girls were popular and I too had obsessed over them, but those days were long gone.As the song started up, the girls belted out each note of Wannabe, but I remained silent, staring at the families and couples scattered throughout the room. I could see a younger man with a full beard in the back laughing and poking fun at the girls. They were simply trying to have a good time and didn’t deserve to be laughed at. It took guts to sing in front of strangers. With each note, the girls belted louder and louder, I knew I had a good voice that would help them harmonize, so I took the chance.
With the next line I was yelling out ‘Taking is too easy, but that’s the way it is!’ I continued to sing with the girls and the crowd laughter died down. As the crowd began to loosen up and enjoy themselves, oddly enough, so did I. When the last note had been sung, the four of us bowed and walked off stage laughing and discussing the next song we would request. My time with the three girls ended that night, and so too did the cruise a few days later, but I will always remember the three girls that helped me sing my way to a little laughter and a lot of fun.
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