We sat on deck, looking out on a calm sea that shimmered in the moonlight.
We were six, two couples plus a mother and adult son. We had met on a cruise eight years before and we had been travelling together ever since.
We were a compatible lot and conversation never lagged.
This night was the Captain’s welcome reception and dinner. We had all dressed up, joined the line to meet the Captain, drank the champagne and had a very nice dinner.
We sighed in contentment.
We were rehashing the jokes of the entertainer, a comedian, who was quite good when a young man came in sight. Wow!
He was tall, dark, and handsome with full sensuous lips, deep blue eyes, a high forehead from which his hair fell in soft waves to his shoulders. Yes, all the clichéd descriptions of the hero one could find in Mills and Boon and Harlequin romance novels were rolled into one eye-popping package and walking towards us. He was the epitome of male pulchritude.
“Oooh! I would never say no to any request from this one!” Pat remarked sotto voce.
“MOTHER!” exclaimed Francis in such a shocked voice we all burst into laughter.
The young man turned and said: “That must have been a good one.” With uncharacteristic boldness I said: “Come over and join us and we will share it with you.”
“Thanks, I will.” He pulled out a chair came over and said: “Hi, I am Sean.”
We introduced ourselves. Gary, the only smoker in our group had noticed the cigarette case Sean had pocketed before he accepted our invitation. He suggested they have a smoke.
Sean accepted and he and Gary moved closer to the rail and ashtrays. We surmised Sean had come out for air and a smoke before returning to his date/fiancée/wife/partner.
Cigarette done, Penny, Gary’s wife told Sean about our plans to go listen to the Jazz trio in the Piano Bar. She invited him to join us.
There was a slight hesitation before Sean confirmed he was waiting for someone but maybe they would accompany us to the Piano bar also, if we did not mind.
Pat, our master of sotto voce whispered to Penny: “I should have known that someone who looks like that would be not alone.” It was said with such a mixture of regret, desire and a hint of peevishness that Francis uttered a groan.
The conversation flowed and then Sean told us he was waiting for his parents. He explained that they all had early dinner together but his parents liked to go to relax with a cocktail before catching the later show. He was quite happy with that arrangement because then his mother could pretend he did not smoke and he could have a cigarette without her telling him what a nasty habit it was.
“I am with your mother. Gary is the only smoker in our group and he gets the ‘nasty habit’ lecture on a daily basis even from the former smokers here.”
He smiled and said: “Well, then if you tell me not to smoke, I won’t.”
Before I could reply, a door opened and the first people coming from the late show drifted towards our corner. Sean got up, went towards the door and said:”They’re coming.”
He looked downwards, we looked up.
Coming towards us was the most striking couple.
Little people. Very Little People.
Both were resplendent in their formal wear. Both had the biggest smile when they saw Sean. Sean bent down, hugged both and said: “Mum and Dad, I want to introduce you to some people.” They came forward hands held out.
“Hello, I am Mary and this is Hector, my husband. You have met our son Sean. I bet he was out here grabbing a smoke. Nasty habit that.”
How gracious and how adroitly she had put us at ease. Yet, we could not help it; we gaped even as we smiled. I looked up at Sean and looked down at his parents in wonder. I knelt, opened my arms and hugged them. I was immediately embarrassed. I thought I had committed a faux pas that I should not have done that. As usual my Bert came to my rescue as he said: ‘”Don’t mind her. She is a hugger.”
“That she is,” said Penny.
“So are we,” said Hector. He and Mary were so gracious. They hugged back.
The moment passed. We moved to the Piano Bar.
The Meander: I have often said that our travel experiences have been so varied that should I write them all out I would need to create a number of books. One would be about the people we have met. Sean was 6ft 4 inches tall. His Mom was 3ft 8 inches and his dad 3ft 11 inches. They taught us so much!
I will not forget the sight of Sean dancing with his Mum.
We were shipboard companions only and after that just ships that passed in the night. It is often like that, but for a moment in time the stars aligned to hand us a remarkable travel story.