Monday, January 14, 2008

How to go on a gay cruise

Step 1. Sell a kidney
Seriously. Taking an Atlantis cruise is about as expensive as buying your own boat. Fortunately, the fiancé and I still had one good kidney between us, and we booked the cruise early enough that we got one of those cheaper inner staterooms that have curtains where you'd expect a window to be but when you pull back the curtains there's just a wall there. Or maybe a painting of an ocean. Or—if you're lucky—a pass-through window from the pastry kitchen.

Step 2: Buy costumes
Gay men can't throw a party without a theme. (True story: My friend Bill once threw a party to celebrate his new custom closets.) And if the theme is fun enough, even the gay men who call themselves "straight acting" (a term used wholly without irony by gay guys who see nothing ridiculous about Larry Craig) will deign to play along. True to form, Atlantis has planned parties for every day of the cruise with themes as goofy as "Under the Sea," as subject to creative interpretation as "Tribü" and as simple as "White Party." Many men on our cruise will attend these parties in elaborate, custom-designed costumes that will require extra luggage charges just to get them on the ship. Many more of us will simply use our god-given talents at accessorizing and employ small packables like hats and color-coordinated tank tops to maintain thematic compliance. And even though the fiancé and I have known about these parties since we booked the cruise a year ago, we waited until this weekend to start shopping. Which means we won't be attending the White Party as Olympic decathlon champions because nobody sells white track pants in January. At least not in tall sizes. But we have some day-glo jeans and beads for the Mardi Gras party and Australian bushman hats and camo shorts for Tribü and some even less creative ideas for the other parties. And everything will fit nicely in our regular luggage and no individual piece cost more than $12. And nothing says party hearty like cheap accessories!

Step 3: Moisturize!
In less than a week, we'll be baring our pasty-white skin on a ship in the Caribbean. The ship will be filled with gay men. Gay men who do not understand clogged pores. Or wrinkles. Or hangnails. So I had a bit of a spa day on Saturday. Since people will be seeing my toes for the first time since the marathon, I figured I at least owed everyone the courtesy of having my callouses removed. Unfortunately, my pedicurist was what we will euphemistically call too stupid to notice me sitting all alone in the waiting room. So by the time she "finally found" me after her exhaustive search of Siberia or wherever she thought I was "hiding," we'd lost half an hour. So I had an abbreviated foot scrub. A mini-pedi, if you will. But she still managed to make my feet look so soft and pretty I want to write a song about them.

While I was there, I also had the old-man hairs ripped out of my back—a procedure I subject myself to about once a year, even though it always gives me unsightly bumps and a lingering pile of why-do-I-always-forget-how-much-this-hurts. I also had my first facial, which I was under the impression would be a nice, relaxing experience. But then I also thought Bush couldn't possibly be as big a moron as he sounds like when he talks, so what do I know? Facials, for the uninitiated, do indeed include layers of moisturizers and soothing temple rubs and warm, steamy towels. But if you suffer from the heartbreak of blackheads, they also include belt sanders and jackhammers and possibly waterboarding if that's what it takes to get the gunk out of your pores. HOW COME NOBODY TOLD ME THIS? Apparently I had acres of gunk-filled pores on my nose alone. The aesthetician even grunted a few times as she struggled to dislodge my shameful buildup. But once the swelling went down and the redness cleared up and the pain-induced temporary blindness corrected itself, my face looked almost as pretty as my feet. And that's all anyone can really ask for.

I just hope I stay this beautiful until Friday, when we pack up our cheap hats and board our plane and start enjoying our theme-filled vacation. Then as long as I can maintain my facade and hold in my stomach non-stop for one full week, it should be the most relaxing vacation ever.

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