Updated: Feb 13, 2020
**adult topics discussed**
Cabin fever is a very real and powerful force, and no one is entirely immune. Sure, we had our production shows to perform, our original shows to produce, and a handful of scheduled duties or social obligations – but we were never occupied with a duty for more than two hours at a time. Our beautiful ship would sail on, stopping only briefly in ports, and we were confined to the entertainments we managed to provide for ourselves on board. Things got old, and quickly.
In anticipation of putting together new shows, Cassandra had planned ahead with her packing, and stuffed a pair of tutus in her suitcase. She was delighted to be able to use one in our Christmas show, and perhaps as a result, felt inspired to find more excuses to wear them. This urge, when combined with cabin fever, gave birth to the Tutu Gram. There is no other possible explanation for otherwise sane and rational adults to be skipping around a floating mansion in tutus.
Cassandra shared a cabin consensually with Roy. Incidentally, he had consented to it too. They had become fast friends during the very first day of land rehearsals, and remained inseparable for the entire contract. And when Cassie decided to wear a tutu, Roy decided he would like to wear one too. But now what?
What would two adults be doing in tutus, they wondered? They allegedly surmised that it would be an excellent way to spread cheer to our colleagues in other departments – or at least break the monotony of sea days. They decided to carry around Cassie’s MacBook and ambush unsuspecting officers at their desks by blasting some Spice Girls.
So on the tutus would go, and at random times (so long as it wasn’t during the sacred afternoon nap time) Roy and Cassie would sneak around the back corridors of crew areas and pop up into the office of their chosen victim, press play on iTunes, and booty hump each other silly while belting, So tell me what you want, what you really really want…
Tutu Grams got mixed reviews. Some loved it and would jump into the middle of the bump and grind, living it up. Some reacted with covert anger. Others wondered if perhaps Roy and Cassie should get written up for not being in proper uniform, as sometimes their ambush path took them through guest areas. Nevertheless, Roy and Cassie were bored, and the rest of the officers and crew were overworked, so Tutu Grams persisted, unregulated.
We were island hopping around New Zealand in January of 2014, and the weather had been consistently damp and grey. Even when in port, people rushed to get back indoors, away from the chilly air, so cabin fever was seldom relieved.
But I didn’t mind as much as I normally would – my concert pianist was back on board for a 10-day guest entertainer contract, and this time, we found ourselves swept up in the ship romance of the century. It was intense, and transcendental, to use his words. Rain never once wrecked a honeymoon, as they say – we were perfectly content to remain confined to his cabin, which was of guest quality: a king-sized bed, a porthole, a desk, a couch, a bath tub…luxuries that I’d all but forgotten how to enjoy. I spent that voyage living like a queen. We never hung in my cabin, mainly because he had guest status and I’d get fired for bringing him into restricted areas – but my cabin wasn’t as blessed as his. No one wanted to stay in there for long if they didn’t have to.
I still had my responsibilities as Cast Supervisor to tend to, along with the basic duties of holding an entertainer position, so on this drizzly afternoon, I had taken a break from my pianist’s capable embrace to catch up with my obligations. I spent no more than an hour in the office, but that was enough to make me pine over his company, and once I was done, I collected some clean laundry at my cabin, then hustled back to Cabin 407.
I had to knock since I didn’t have a key – technically I wasn’t allowed in his cabin, but since he was a guest entertainer and not a full-fare guest, the rules were a bit fuzzy. The officers all knew I practically lived in there and had no problem with it, but if any of the housekeeping staff were to catch me red handed, they’d potentially report it, then the officers would be forced to stop ignoring it. Neither of us wanted to take that risk.
Slowly my boy-toy answered the knock. He recognized me through the peephole, and cracked the door to squeeze me through. But just at that instant, Roy and Cassie passed by in the hallway, greeting me happily. As my closest friends on board, they knew of our romance, and kept the rule-breaking details on the down-low for me.
I noticed through the cracking door that my man was naked, as many men are known to choose to be when nothing is required of them but lounging and relaxing. I strategically blocked the view from Roy and Cassie with a sheepish grin, and when they were clear, he opened the door wide so I could fit through with all my luggage.
“Hello darling, I missed you,” he said, pulling me in for a kiss. I loved his accent. A few vowels were obviously Australian, but his articulation was so frequently straight with English influences that it was exotic to my American ears, and told the story of a man who spent his life working on the international circuit. He was highly educated, and on the surface, supremely dignified.
He followed me into the cabin as I set my stuff down, and pulled out my MacBook. He stretched beside me on the bed, deeply invested in solving his latest Cryptic Crossword. We lounged languidly, still experiencing the afterglow of a steamy night well spent. I found amusement in his choice to relax in his birthday suit, while I would always choose to chill while fully clothed in fleecy pajamas – the differences between the sexes never cease to entertain.
The ship rocked lazily on her way to our next Kiwi port, and it was gently seducing me to doze. I had found a happy place, and if I’d had my druthers, it never would’ve ended.
But end it did, with a knock at the door.
“Who could that be now?” he grumbled. We’d been getting interrupted constantly – if it wasn’t the cruise director calling to relay requests for his second mainstage solo show, it was the butler seeing if we needed room service trays collected, or the cabin steward seeing if he could turn down the bed. This cruise line made up for the lack of fun activities by smothering you with service.
My bare naked man moved first to answer the door, and just as quickly as he made it to the end of the bed, he leapt back behind the wall, abruptly shouting “WOAH!”
“What is happening…?” I shoved my computer aside, wondering whether I’d have to bolt for hiding. I gingerly poked my head around the corner…
Cassie and Roy stood in the open doorway, each donning a tutu, with the most perplexed smirks of surprise and confusion on their faces, the laptop at the ready with the Spice Girls held limply at Roy’s side. Why was the door already open?
“Oh my GOD…!” I wailed, as I melted to the floor, laughing so hard the tears instantly oozed down my face. My dearest seafaring friends had seen the Full Monty, unsolicited, of my new lover, when all they wanted was to innocently prank us with a Tutu Gram.
“The door was just open…” mumbled Roy.
Oh no – was it me who hadn’t made sure the door was latched? I was the last person to leave Cabin 407 and then return…
I can’t believe I just gave them a full frontal of Australia’s most prestigious concert pianist! The guilt and shame were overwhelming. And so was the hilarity of it all. I was paralyzed on the floor – was I crying for remorse, or just because my stomach hurt that badly from laughing? I can’t believe I did that to him! Wasn’t I supposed to honor his need for privacy? Or at the very least, his dignity? Epic girlfriend fail – not that I’ll ever achieve girlfriend status after this…
My pianist didn’t seem phased, after the initial shock wore off. He picked up a pillow and held it over his naughty bits, then grandly strutted to the doorway like the Host with the Most and cordially insisted they come in. The smirk never left their faces as Roy and Cassie reluctantly shuffled their feet across the threshold.
The pianist turned to lead the way to the couch, and suddenly exclaimed, “Oop!” and bent over to pick something imaginary from the rug. He made sure they also got the Full Moon.
Go big or go home, baby, I laughed even harder as Roy and Cassie moaned their discomfort. I was relieved that our dear pianist was viewing these circumstances with a sense of humor – but honestly, why expect anything less of an Aussie? Only Americans are so uptight about nudity, anyway. One thing that had always caught me off guard about him was how unapologetically confident he was in his body. It was awesome – and now, it was maybe my only saving grace.
Roy and Cassie perched precariously on the couch, and looked back and forth between me cry-laughing on the floor, and the pianist perched on the edge of the bed, nude under his pillow. He was enthusiastically engaging our guests in conversation, basking in their discomfort.
All I could say was, “I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry!” I gasped for air and mopped my face.
“We thought we’d try to Tutu Gram you before the two of you got…too busy,” Roy gulped. “You know, after we passed you in the hall just now…”
The pianist continued blissfully with his awkward conversation starters. Eventually, Cassie interrupted to say timidly, “Well…would you like your Tutu Gram now?”
“Oh, yes please!” the pianist exclaimed.
Roy started the song, and he play-grinded unenthusiastically behind a bewildered Cassie while Scary Spice rapped, Yo, I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want…
Roy stopped the song early and they stood up straight, fists dangling by their sides. The smirk of confusion had never once left their faces.
“That’s it, I hope you guys enjoyed it,” Cassie said sheepishly.
“Bye, guys,” muttered Roy.
They shuffled out the door, doubly making sure that it latched behind them this time.
“How did the door swing open?” my pianist pondered as he helped me, still wheezing, off the floor.
“I don’t know! I guess it was me, ‘cause I came back last, after work. I’m so sorry,” I gushed.
“It’s alright, darling,” he crooned. “You didn’t mean anything by it. I’m just glad it was them and not anybody else.”
“Oh God,” I winced at the thought and hid my flushing face in his shoulder.
“Hey – wait…” a realization hit me. “Remember how I was carrying all those bags, and you held the door open so I could fit inside?”
“So you closed the door, and failed to make it latch!!” I exclaimed. “It wasn’t me!!!”
We shared a laugh. I felt lighter not having that dirt on my conscience after all. And as far as poor (or fortunate?) Cassandra and Roy: we could only hope they were finally able to laugh it off as we were. They might’ve been slightly more traumatized, so perhaps they’d need some time to recover. Although what began as a prank from them on us, ended up completely backfiring, at their expense.