Friday, May 13, 2011

All he could eat

Today's post is inspired by The Red Dress Club prompt: gluttony.

The post is fictional (I don't have three kids!), but if you've ever been on a cruise, you know the "Bobs" do exist!

- - -
The minivan was packed. Two large and two medium-sized suitcases proudly displayed colorized tags. The three kids, ages 3, 6, and 11, chattered happily as we merged into the flow of traffic and ventured down I-95 towards the port. We could barely contain our own excitement; we cranked up some summer tunes and smiled.

This year’s cruise? Was going to be memorable. Thanks to savvy saving and a chunk of inheritance from a dearly departed loved one, we were cruising in style. No cramped, tripping-over-luggage, fighting-for-the-tiny-capsule-shower stateroom this year; we were going to enjoy paradise from a family suite. It was going to be fabulous; we would remember our luxury trip for years to come.

Fast forward a couple years. We are still talking and laughing about that vacation. It was memorable, all right; the suite was perfect, the weather was divine. We took great pleasure in awaking each morning to a new, picturesque island view.

But the most memorable? Not exactly what we expected.

Over seven days of cruising, our dinner companion earned a place in family vacation history.

We were assigned a table for eight in the main dining room, which meant our family was joined with another traveling party of three. The two ladies were nice enough; we chatted briefly at the start of each meal, comparing our adventures from the day. We did not speak much to Bob, the man occupying seat number eight. He was not one for talk - he was one for eating.

His eyes were glued to the menu the instant his large behind spread into the chair. “Gotta get my money’s worth”, he often said. (In fact, that may have been the only thing he ever said.)

Night after night, without fail, Bob selected a soup, two appetizers, an entrĂ©e, and two desserts from the ship’s featured menu. And he ate it ALL. Every drop, every morsel, every crumb found its way into Bob’s seemingly bottomless belly. My children stared in astonishment as plate after plate of food was presented, cleared, and sent away. They stifled giggles when Bob dripped soup down his shirt (often). Thankfully, they held back giggles when, at the end of each epic eating event, Bob pushed back his chair and loosened the button on his pants.

“Gotta get my money’s worth!” he chuckled, making my stomach churn.

I wish we had a photo of Bob. He was the star of our vacation. The kids insist on mimicking him at the dinner table, frequently shoving food in their faces as quickly as possible, laughing together as they remember how much he ate – and with such fervor.

They are already asking when we will go on another cruise.

I think, perhaps, I’ll insist on a private table for five.

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