On Dec. 1, my husband Jerry, my brother Jerry, his wife Shirley and I embarked on a cruise to the Caribbean. While sitting on the deck, Jerry watched a number of guests dive bomb down the water slides and he smiled, recalling all the times he loved riding on the Cyclone in Coney Island or the coaster in Fun Fair with his father, his brother Seme, his cousins and friends.
Jerry was a daredevil in all respects when he was younger and he went into overdrive in amusement parks. After hearing the screams and watching the thrilled younger cruise guests plummeting down the slides, he thought: “Well I guess I’m over that hill now,” noting that substantially all of the water slide thrill seekers were under 40 and most commonly between 20 and 30. He sighed and turned back to reading “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fydor Dostoevsky.
The next day as he heard the screams and laughs of the thrill seekers he developed a measure of envy. But before tackling the monster wraparound tube slide, he decide to try a more moderate one. While waiting on line, a young 20-something special needs young man asked Jerry if he’d ridden this slide before. When he heard that this was his first time, he decided to take Jerry under his wing. He instructed him on exactly what to do, and promised to keep his eye on him. They became fast friends and spent the afternoon together having a ball.
While all this was happening I was sitting peacefully reading poolside on the deck. Out of the corner of my eye I looked up and saw Jerry standing with his arm around this young man who introduced himself as Brady — “Brady, as in Tom,” he said. He said that he specifically wanted to meet me so that he can encourage me to go down that slide, just like he encouraged Jerry. Lucky for me, I was about to meet my brother and sister-in-law for lunch — saved by the bell! They did make a sweet pair though. They each needed a friend that day and this worked out perfectly for each of them.
The next day Jerry announced that he was going to climb the Mount Everest water slide and then take the daredevil plunge to the bottom. The monster slide was on top of a high tower that was by far the highest point on the huge ship. He began to climb the tower and waved to us when he reached the top. A young woman in front of him on the short line mentioned that she was very nervous but wanted to prove to herself that she could do it. At the top of the tower there was a cylinder-type capsule that each daredevil would enter, and was instructed to firmly cross their arms and legs before them and focus to keep them crossed no matter what.
The slide had a long vertical drop at breakneck speed and then the person would be thrust through a series of loops at top speed until finally emerging in a pool of water on the bottom. The drop began when the floor was suddenly opened beneath them and the plunge commenced. When the young woman began to plunge downhill Jerry heard a bloodcurdling scream and then other screams emanating from within the ride. “Wow,” thought Jerry, “she sounded bona fide terrified.” He watched the pool below waiting for the young woman to emerge. Nothing happened; she didn’t emerge. Turns out she panicked and began to attempt to slow down her plunge by using her arms and legs to save herself. She got stuck in the tubes and had to be helped out.
A large crowd gathered below after hearing that someone got stuck. Everything was then reset and now it was Jerry’s turn. The crowd noticed that Jerry was a geezer, substantially older than the other thrill seekers. They began to point up at him. Jerry focused, as he used to be an athlete and this would be another step down the ladder of athletic capability if he failed. He got into the cylinder, crossed his arms and legs and waiting for his moment of truth. The floor opened and Jerry felt the thrill of hurtling straight downhill on the vertical tube and then feeling himself being whirled around within the network of tubes sending him in a series of loops up and down until he emerged at the bottom. He stood and heard the cheers of the crowd as the way over-the-hill underdog Jerry waved back in appreciation.
For the briefest of moments Jerry the Lion in Winter thrilled the older folks in the crowd as well as himself. I expected Jerry to return to us after this gold medal run — but no, Jerry morphed into the hyperactive thrill seeking trouble making youngster as he repeatedly raced up the stairs and then hurled to earth with his new young friends.
When it was time to disembark, a chaotic scene ensued. It was like trying to get onto the lifeboats of the Titanic, with groups and lines weaving haphazardly and incoherently around the ship. We finally reached the area where we would hand over our cabin key cards and would proceed to luggage pickup. Our luck, the line was stopped right before us. I noticed that the open area that we would have continued onto was cordoned off with blue tape. An employee came over and said it would be best to just turn around and go back the other way.
“Are you kidding? There are at least 1,000 people behind us,” I responded. “Now we would be last on line. I don’t think so.” So I said, “Let’s go, I’ll lead you out.”
I removed the blue tape and started walking. An employee saw what I was doing and ran over to stop us. He said that we couldn’t go that way. I said, “Watch me.” Here I was, leading a mutiny. We were a renegade group being chased by ship employees, until they realized it was easier to just let us go. When we reached the final checkpoint and handed over our ship key cards, the employee said, “No, you already entered your cards before you got to this point.”
I was going to say, “Oh, you’re right,” keep walking. But what happens when we get to customs and they realize we never checked out. I told him to just put the cards through again, which totally confused him and then Jerry started speaking to him which confused him even more and we were able to sneak by.
All’s well that ends well.
Talking about cruising on the ocean…
Parmesan ‘OCEAN’ Perch
From the Betty Crocker Kitchen
1 lb. ocean perch, cod or haddock fillets
2 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. paprika
Dash of pepper
1 Tbsp. lespoon reduced-calorie margarine, melted (I used butter)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Move oven rack to position slightly above middle of oven. Heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches, with cooking spray.
If fish fillets are large, cut into 4 serving pieces. Mix remaining ingredients except margarine and parsley.
Brush one side of fish with margarine; dip into crumb mixture. Place fish, coated sides up, in pan. Bake uncovered about 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Sprinkle with parsley.