Just Bill and the Mister

February 24, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 12:25 pm
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The following night, the final dinner provides one last reenactment of Trimalchio’s banquet in Satyricon.  All the waiters have traded their uniforms for aloha shirts.  They samba through the darkened dining room with flaming dishes.

For the night’s costume party, you again suit up in the only costume you brought, the tux.  If anyone asks, you’re a waiter.

Costumes release otherwise restrained features of personality.  The posse of  four young men have appeared at odd moments during the trip, always together.  Tonight, they come out of their own closet gussied up as a pimp with three hookers.  Lots of garter-snapping and mincing in spiked heels ensues.  Everyone admires their style and costumes.  They receive loud, sustained applause during the judging in the ballroom.  The zoot-suited pimp tells everyone that he and his ladies of the evening are Italian.  During the week, everyone has grown weary of Turinese self-assertion.  Maybe it was their long flight from Europe, maybe they feel cornered.  Regardless, the two hundred Italians have not been simpatico these five days.

As if to confirm all this, for the costume party one Turinese couple has tricked out their two little girls as Playboy bunnies.  After the judging, there they are, six or seven years old and sleeping on a banquette, in a cocktail lounge off the ballroom.  Attached to their glossy heads are the rabbit ears, little tails fixed to their rumps.  Stuffed into each child’s bodice-ripper costume are grotesquely exaggerated falsies.

And so the party, trip and books are finished.  In a condition of cruise bloat and still sleepy the next morning, you say goodbye to people whose last names you never learned.  You pass down the gangplank in Port Everglades, onto a bus, into a plane.  Emerging from Metro Airport three hours later, you choose to think the frostbelt sky seems lighter, the back of winter broken.

At least all evidence of the blizzard is gone.  You drive home to stacks of mail and a scolding from the cat you left in the care of neighbors.

That Monday after work, you drive to your bank.  In the stack of mail was a bill for an overdraft fee.  This is perfectly possible, but you plan to fight it on a technicality.

When the person you are led to looks up, it’s like final closure of the cruise itself.  No, he’s not the same figure of thrusting business assertion you saw yammering into his cell phone two weeks, ago–but he is definitely one of Them.  Has the sharpie’s suit, the suspenders.  But as closure should in a happy story this too-confident bank manager half your age turns out to be rational.  Even tactful.  That is, he concedes your point and agrees to waive the overdraft fee.

A good end.  No apologies, and no regrets.  You and your wife acted on impulse and were right to it.  Now, all you have to do is convince Visa to let a few things slide into the next century.


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