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My Second Most Embarrassing Moment

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Funny how nobody wants to hear my wisdom gained from years working at sea. No, the biggest response I’ve gotten was from my most embarrassing moment! Being blackmailed into performing a strip-tease was indeed embarrassing, though assuaged by a kiss from a pretty lady. The following moment, however, was embarrassing front-to-back. It involved singing.

I had only been aboard as a manager-in-training a very short time when Legend scored a mighty 98 out of 100 on its USPH health inspection. This was nearly impossible for a ship several years old for, just like driving a new car off the lot slashes value, smashing a champagne bottle on the bow loses an entire, crucial USPH point. Carnival was justifiably proud with the rating and spared no expense on a party rewarding the hard-working crew. Because this was a repositioning cruise with no guests aboard, the party was extra special. Most of the crew attended.

I knew almost nobody of the hundreds in attendance in the dining room. I sat at a table near the front with mostly managers and a waitress-friend named Juci. The biggest man in the room sat across from me: Kevin, the Food & Beverage Manager. The ship’s maitre D’, an Englishman named Ian, took up the wireless microphone to open the party. He spoke a few words into the mic, but it wasn’t working. He tried again, rapping it lightly against the table.

“Duman!” he snapped to his assistant maitre D’. “Your incessant babbling burnt out the batteries!”

Duman grinned mischievously, and laughter filled the dining room. His babbling was legendary. Ian threw him the mic and demanded sarcastically, “You got any double D’s?”

“No, more like Cs, eh Juicy?” Duman answered playfully, giving the petite Juci a squeeze.

“No tit jokes, please,” Ian chided with a strained look.

“I have some batteries in my cabin,” I offered, then rushed off to complete the errand, happy to be of service.

When I returned to the party, people were already drunk. The habit of getting as drunk as possible in as little time as possible at crew parties took its toll. Kevin, to everyone’s astonishment, had brought out a guitar and played a virtuoso Spanish guitar song. Then Ian again tried to address the crowd. Unlike Duman, Ian was a man of few words. With great fanfare he cut his speech short in favor of music. There was an awkward moment, however, when no music followed.

“Duman! You blew out the goddamn speakers, too?” he demanded. “All right, Brian. In for a penny, in for a pound.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You want to be management? How will you handle this situation? There’s no music and this crew deserves some entertainment!”

“What do you want me to do?” I protested. “Recite Shakespearean sonnet?”

“You do that and I guarantee you a full-stripe promotion.”

Fancying myself a well-read lad, I hastily rose to call his bluff. Ian laughed, then clarified, “Kevin played guitar. I gave a speech. Lutfi is charming as a toad, and Duman isn’t touching the mic ever again. That leaves you.”

Reluctantly I took the microphone, not really knowing what to do. I stood up and looked over the crowd of hundreds of strangers.

“Um, all right,” I said. “I want all the Filipinos to stand up.”

There was a pause while everyone tried to figure out if I was serious or not. Finally about two dozen men stood up. “This is your moment of glory! Who wants to prove he is the king of karaoke by singing a capella—that is without music—in front of half the ship?”

“After you!” the crowd howled.

“Just a Gigolo!” Juci shrieked, receiving many cheers. This was not good.

I looked to Ian pleadingly, but he just shrugged.

With great ceremony I downed a beer, then reached over and downed Ian’s to the roaring approval of the audience. With as much over-the-top showmanship as I could muster, I sang my best David Lee Roth. Badly. I strutted during the opening, I pleaded during the refrain, and nearly even ripped my shirt off. The problem was that halfway through the song, I forgot the words. I stopped abruptly, panting, stupid. No music. Only a quiet, waiting crowd. I swear I heard crickets chirp from somewhere.

“Indeed!” Ian said approvingly, slapping me on the back. “If the crew didn’t know you before, they sure as Hell do now!”

Go on, tell us your most embarrassing cruise moments. I dare you!

By Brian David Bruns, author of national best-seller Cruise Confidential.

Pics of the people and places I blog about are on my website and FB pages, join me!



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When my wife and I were married (10 years ago in June) my in-laws happened to have a cruise scheduled one week after our wedding. So they generously purchased a cabin for us for our honeymoon. The embarrassment came when my wife and I landed ourselves on the newlywed game show. From the moment my new wife started planning our audition, I knew that my new in-laws would never look at me the same again. But I figured that if I'm going down it might as well be in a blaze of glory. So the peak of my embarrassment came when the other husbands and I were brought back to the stage to try to match our wives answers and cruise director pressing me for details all the way gets me to explain to the entire ship and my in-laws where the "wildest place my wife and I had ever made whoopee" was. And lets just say it wasn't on the ship during our honeymoon. Worst part is we didn't even win. My embarrassment continued to a lesser degree as I become semi-famous for the rest of the cruise, with people addressing me by nicknames like "hamburger helper" which was how I described my wife's cooking and matched her answer by the way, and "Woody" for "Woody Wood Pecker" the cartoon character she chose to describe me in the morning, we got that one right too. Overall, I embraced it all and had a great time.

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Jerry was entered in the Knobby Knees contest and WON!! They called him Cliff Clavin. All the men on stage had shorts on. Not my husband. He is known for wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts. So, he rolls his pants up to his thighs. Guess it was one of these where you had to be there ...

Then there was the Hawaii cruise where we all learned Hula. The night of our stage performance, we did not know that the men would be dressed in coconut tops, wigs and grass skirts. They came out to do "their number" and ALL of the men had their wigs on backwards. We still laugh about this one.

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I have lost count the number of times my dear husband has made a spectacle of himself. One involved karaoke, but the best - and I believe this is in my blog somewhere - was the time he was voted "Mr. Grand Princess" on the ship of the same name. A big-bellied, middle-aged, bearded and balding man chosen from a selection of buff young and really hot studs, parading with crown and scepter before his newfound - shirtless?? I don't know - I've tried to block out all the specifics. I just know the alcohol was flowing that night.

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