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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Penguins On Deck

Yesterday, we spent a fabulous day in St Thomas, USVI. Sunny. Hot. Rum Punch.
Last nights dinner and evening on the ship was classified as Formal Night. They don't really call it that any more.  It now is referred to as Casual Elegant night. Oh, yeah. Gotcha. We forgot.  Decide, please.
We are old school.  We have tuxedos for formal night.  We have our things and the attitudes to go with them. We hang on to old virtues and traditions.
Last night as we prepared for dinner, we had to channel the ghosts of Queen Victoria, her hand maidens, court, and dressers to simply get dressed. We had our tuxedos, shirts, and garments cleaned , starched, and pressed to a tee. You could cut diamonds on the sleeves of our tux shirts.  Pink cuff-links, Pink sterling buttons, cumber-buns, hand tied bow ties, and vests shortly followed. That's a lot of fuss....for men.
We looked good.  Damn good.
I have a sweet affinity for my tuxedo.  I feel good in it.  It is the most comfortable piece of clothing I own. Feel good.  Look good.
The ship has three floors in the huge dining room.  We always arrange to have our table on the first floor dining area near the captain's table. Better action. Better service. Each floor has its own entrance on that floor for easy access.  Ha!  We always enter the dining room on the second floor just so we can  slowly cascade down the spiral staircase like Scarlett at Tara, with our tuxedos replacing her green heavy velvet curtains. It is always our  moment on the stairs every night as the stairway and we wind steep and deep into our dining room. Gaze.
Michael: Slow Roasted Aged American Prime Rib with Lobster. Me: Pan-Seared Supreme of Mallard Duck Breast.  Formal Night.  Casual Elegant.
His Prime Rib was beautifully cooked.  Dark-rubbed, seasoned and roasted on the outer flesh opened to a rosy pink well marbled center. It was juicy and shiny with grilled zucchini and pave potatoes to the side.  Tiny sterling silver demi-tasse cups of au jus and horseradish added depth, punch, and elegance.  The lobster, a warm weather Caribbean Spiny Lobster was delicious.  Unlike its Maine cousin, a cold water lobster that allows juicy fat buttery flesh to develop, Carribbean lobster is leaner and fitter.  Tasty.
My pan-seared duck was perfectly cooked to medium rare and topped with  blackberry demi-glace, a deep and rich  sauce with melted tart  sweet blackberries clinging to the crisp fatty flesh. Whipped Yukon Gold potatoes studded with candied onion brittle provided a creamy sweet crunch while Parmesan slender green beans finished the plate.
After dinner, when most on  ship usually take a clothes change break  for ramba lessons or bingo, we always move to the upper most deck of whatever ship we are on.  Last night, we climbed to deck 11.  Tall.  High.  Windy. Dark.
Black sky on black water, save for the pearl moon casting its white shadow on the black water.  Lit by maritime required  aft to stern strands of white light bulbs, we walked the deck alone, quiet, and together.
There is freedom in the warm Caribbean wind. Our pants whipped and slapped in the fierce wind, exposing our bony knees and ankles.  Our coats filled with air like billowed sails held together by tiny silk-covered buttons and our hair was wind swept flat back.  King of the world!
If only one gust of wind would have or could have lifted us up and out over the rails of the ship into the black sky,  the pearl moon, the black water, and into a sea of dreams.


Carpe Diem.

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