If you haven’t yet read “Cinderella’s Wedding 1”, I suggest you read that first. This will make more sense if you do.
There was a deep, rumbling vibration, the kind that is felt more than heard, and the sound of water gurgling under the floor. My mind tried to fit those noises into the dream I was having and failed, and I struggled into consciousness. I poked my head out from under the covers and looked around. Every detail that slowly came into focus only added to the disorientation. The room was triangular and the walls were thickly-painted steel. There were two windows, but they were round.
The tumblers finally clicked into place. Oh, yeah, I’m on a boat.
The ride was very smooth. The noises, now identified, became comforting. Through a porthole, I watched the mansions on Balboa Island slip by. Soon I burrowed back down into bed and fell back asleep.
The second time, things were quite different. The bed I was on suddenly dropped from under me and I woke up weightless and falling. A second later the bed rose up under me, caught and pushed me back up a foot or two, then dropped away again. I swung my feet out and onto the floor. Holding onto anything that presented itself, I lurched my way across the pitching and rolling funhouse floor to the far door. Turning left, I fell into a bathroom. caught myself by grabbing a sink with both hands, and threw up into it.
I found out later that after we had gotten underway, it took about 45 minutes to traverse an inland waterway that was glass-smooth. But once out past the breakwater, the boat was suddenly in open ocean. That day there was a gentle 10-12 mile-per-hour Westerly breeze which was barely enough to create whitecaps on the waves it instigated. But these waves were enough to not only cause the boat to rock in the water back-to-front, but also, because the waves were hitting the boat at an angle, roll the craft side-to-side. To the average landlubber, this can be disconcerting. Suddenly the surface you are standing on is rising and falling, tilting and rocking.
I cleaned up the sink, washed my face, brushed my hair, threw up again, and shaved. I managed to get myself dressed and presentable with only one more dash to the “head” (I remembered the term from an old submarine movie). I picked up my camera, made sure it had a fresh roll of film, and headed back to the main cabin or “saloon”.
The night before I had mentioned to Cinderella that I had brought my little 35mm camera. She was thrilled. Evidently, Tony (“Don’t worry, Babe, I’ll take care of everything.”) had forgotten to hire a camera guy and suddenly I was The Wedding Photographer. I was charged to get pictures of everyone in attendance and the ceremony itself. Luckily for me, along with such wedding tropes as white dresses, Cinderella didn’t really believe in posed “pictures of the happy couple.” Candids would be fine. Wishing I had an official canvas vest with lots of little pockets to put things in, I set off to fulfill my responsibility.
The Saloon, which was in the middle of the yacht and the aft deck, one flight up, were where I found most of the passengers. Nearly everyone was seasick, despite the fact that the middle and rear of the boat were a lot more stable than my little room up front had been. I soon realized that I was comparatively lucky. Most of the people were ashen-faced and either clinging to the rail or suddenly pushing themselves out over it to heave. I was among a smaller group of folks who’d suddenly get nauseous, run to the rail, let fly, and then feel fine afterward. I mistimed one of these when the ship was swaying the wrong direction, and my breakfast splattered on the handrail next to a crewman. I shouted down that I’d be right down to clean it up, but he told me not to worry about it. I guessed that clean-up detail was part of their duties.
There were a few people on board that the motion of the ship didn’t affect in the least. One of these was Victoria whose natural perkiness had been turned up to 10 by the sun and the sea breeze.
“Hey Billy! Howareya doing?” she grinned, ruffling Bill’s red hair, “I heard there were some dolphins out there earlier. Did you see them?”
Bill pulled his chin off the rail, turned his pallid face and bloodshot eyes to her, and told her he would gladly throw her overboard if he only had the strength.
“You’re so funny!” she said, unfazed, and went to spread some cheer elsewhere. As long as Bill had his face up, I said, “smile!” and took his picture.
Cinderella had asked me to get pictures of as many of the wedding guests as I could. Although most of my subjects were not feeling, or looking, quite their best, I kept snapping away. At one point, I went looking for Nancy and Evie, Cindy’s mother and sister, and I was finally told that they had taken over the bathroom next to the saloon and hadn’t been seen for quite some time. On the pretext of needing to ask Nancy a question, I got her to open the door and was able to get a couple of pictures before they threw me out. I thought it would make a homey scene. A mother and her daughter, sitting on the floor on either side of the toilet, taking turns at the bowl.
In a deck chair near the rail, Ian sat stolidly. His face had a gray tinge, and his eyes were sunken and hollow. When I asked how he was doing, he replied, “I’m not going to get sick. I refuse.” Ian was and always has been one of the most competitive people I know. He had reduced his state to a battle of wills between himself and Nausea. My recommendation that he just let it go and see if he felt better afterward was met with a stony silence. So I went off to take some more pictures and have fun with Tricia and Vicky.
At about ten-thirty that morning, the boat entered Avalon Harbor and dropped anchor.
There is one small city on Santa Catalina. It is called Avalon and for sheer loveliness it can give the Italian cities on the Amalfi Coast a run for their money. Little brightly-colored houses and small hotels climb up the hills that surround a circular harbor. At anchor, while we waited our turn in the little water taxi to go ashore, I watched the people who had just been terribly ill laughing and talking to each other. It was, especially in Bill and Ian’s case, like watching the dead come back to life.
We spent several hours walking around the little town, eating sandwiches in a small cafe, and going out to one arm of the harbor to see the Avalon Ballroom. In the Big Band era, pleasure boats would put ashore hundreds of dressed-to-the-nines couples to dance there into the wee hours with Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.
We did see Tony and his friends around an outdoor table at one of the local bars. While we had changed to shorts and casual shirts, the Lounge Lizards’ only concession to the weather was taking off their sport jackets and loosening their ties. They returned our waves with a “who the hell are those geeks?” look and went back to hammering hard liquor.
As the end of the day neared, we were back aboard the boat which was chugging it’s way around the island to a secluded bay on the North side. As we were staying close to shore, the water was calm and everyone was healthy and excited about the upcoming ceremony. Being the semi-official Wedding Photographer, I was allowed to penetrate the largest of the cabins where Cinderella and Victoria, her Maid of Honor, were getting ready. One of Tony’s friends, a tall, dark, nervous-looking fellow who was holding a trumpet, was trying to convince Cinderella to let him play a song on it as she approached the groom during the ceremony.
“I used to play this horn professionally, honey. I can play anything – you name it.”
“I haven’t thought about a song. Tony and I don’t have a song.”
“I can think of something. It’ll be perfect.”
“All right,” Cinderella relented. “Play what you want. Just as long as it isn’t the God-damned Wedding March or something like that, okay?”
“You got it, babe,” he said as he left the cabin fingering the valves on his trumpet.
Forty-five minutes later the boat was anchored, the sun was setting, and everyone was up on the aft deck to watch the ceremony. I noticed that Tony’s friend, the trumpet player, had climbed a short mast and scrambled into a small crow’s nest. There he stood, instrument in hand, waiting for the bride to appear.
At one end of the deck stood the ship’s captain in his dress whites. Standing next to him were Tony and one of his friends, wearing tuxes that would have made Sinatra proud. There was a sudden hush, and the people at the other end of the deck stepped back. Cinderella, in her beautiful purple gown, was standing there. Victoria, wearing a simple, yellow gown was beside her.
Cindy has always been a lovely woman, but in that dress, in the warm, end-of-day light, she was dazzling.
With a happy smile, the Bride began walking slowly toward her Groom at the other end of the deck. From the crow’s nest, a solo trumpet began to play. The song he had chosen? “The Impossible Dream.”