After Annie retired from her nursing career, Jack decided to take her on a cruise to the Caribbean. She had always wanted to go and expressed the desire to do so over and over again. In her usual fashion, she had begun her campaign long before she retired. Now he was always a little slow on the uptake, but he finally got it. Their good friends, Bess and Lou, decided they would like to go along as soon as they heard about their plans. Upon boarding, they made sure that they let them know that this ship of all the 41 cruises they had been on, was definitely the worst and the most expensive. Annie and Jack were well pleased with the accommodations and the service. Bess and Lou were great fun to be around if you could just overlook their one tiny little fault. They had a lot and liked to brag about it. Jack said to Annie, “I am slow on the uptake,but I hadn’t given this one enough thought. Maybe we shouldn’t have told them we were going on a cruise.” Once they boarded the ship, Bess and Lou had a brand new audience. They were a handsome, charismatic couple unlike them, who preferred to be in the background. They soon realized that the first five minutes of Bess and Lou’s conversation would contain three facts about themselves.
They owned a store
They owned a yacht which got bigger by the minute. However, no one had ever seen them take it out of its slip at the dock.
They drove a Jaguar.
It became annoying as all get up as the cruise went on. They would have a whole ten days to hear this over and over again. By the evening of the Captain’s Dinner, Annie had enough and pretended she had a headache and ate in her cabin. She had heard just about all she could take and this was only the second night.
That was probably when Jack decided to make a game out it. The next day, as soon as they would meet a new couple if they were with them, he would look at his watch and start to time them. Annie had no idea what he was up to until he confessed later that night when they were alone in their cabin.
“I am grateful for that stopwatch feature. I could look down, look at you, and start the stop clock feature on my watch. I sho’ was glad that I had gotten that feature. Once on a short elevator ride, they got it all out in less than thirty-seconds. I can’t even talk that fast.” That stop watch saved their cruise. They had so much fun, playing the game that they almost hated to see the cruise end. Jack would start his stop watch and it was all Annie could do not to break out in her loud obnoxious laugh (Jack called it her contagious laugh, but more often than enough others probably found it irritating).
The cruise was over and the ship came into port in Miami. They got on the bus and headed to the airport, alone at last. While they waited to depart, they looked out the bus window and saw Bess and Lou going toward the auto pick up. Their Jaguar was in the parking lot. She was talking to another couple who was waiting with them. Annie started to wave them down when she heard Bess say, “We are picking up our Jaguar, how about you? Are you on vacation? We are. We own a store in Pennsylvania. We were going to sail our yacht down here, but our friends had never been on a cruise so we took them. This is our 42nd cruise,” she added.
Annie was furious. “Jack, did you hear that? They took us on a cruise. I think I will send them a bill. How dare them. Jack, did you hear that? “ she clicked her tongue in great aggravation, “Of all the unmitigated gall.”
“I was way too busy timing Bess and Lou’s spiel and wasn’t paying much attention to what they were saying.”
They had a good time on the cruise but Annie never asked to go on another one, and they never traveled again with Bess and Lou. They did remain friends with them and tried not to judge their one tiny little fault, but it depends on what the meaning of tiny really is.
Annie decided after the Cruise that she had been to Europe and Peru and traveled a lot of places in the good old USA, but she would much prefer to spend her time at a beach cottage near Charleston. It was the best place in the world as far as she was concerned and Jack agreed with her. If she wanted to see some other places, she would watch it on the Travel channel.
“Annie, did you have a good time?” Jack asked.
“Well, yes I did.”
“Isn’t that all that matters? Those two need to show people how rich and smart they are. They need to feel important. You know, they are really fun folks when they drop all that facade. The odd thing is that people would really like them for who they are. They just haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe they never will.”
“Jack, how did you get so smart?”
“I found this amazing woman when I was at The Citadel and she taught me a few things. Her name was Rhetta.“’’
“Jack,” her voice trailed. She reached over and gave him a little punch on his arm and a big kiss. For one second, they forgot that they were on the bus as they kissed again. Some things never change.
A song started to play on the intercom. It had been tuned to the Oldies station for all the retired folk on the bus.
“Maybe, I’ll say maybe,” Perry Como crooned.
“Jack, they are playing our song.”
Had they been at home he would have danced with her as he always did when they heard their song playing. He would have rested his chin on the top of her head just as they had the first time they danced together.
“Jack, “ she whispered, “I love you.”
“How much?” he asked.
She held up her thumb and forefinger together and said, “Just about this much.”
“That much, huh. That is about the same amount you loved me when you were eighteen.”
“I know,” she said, “some things never change do they?”
He put his arm around her and gave her another great big smooch.
“How did I get so lucky?”
She smiled, “I was just thinking the same thing.”
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.