Today’s blog continues with more “people” observations I made on our just-ended cruise (see previous posting for background info). I have been on other cruises and the one thing hard to ignore on this one was how old most of the passengers were. If you gathered all of them close together (which wouldn’t be easy given all the walkers, wheelchairs and canes) you’d see nothing but a sea of white hair (when hair was present) atop a wavy flow of hunched-over backs. It leaves one to assume there must have been an incredible senior citizen discount for this cruise.
There were a few of those show-off oldsters onboard. You know, the couples who brag about how many centuries they’ve been married or the well-to-do’s who have never-ending stories to tell about the gazillion never-ending cruises they’ve been on. Case in point, some 120 couples on this two-week cruise from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale were staying on to take the very same trip back to LA. Considering the number of grandchildren most of them talked about, they probably had to buy an extra suitcase for all the souvenirs they had to take back home.
Conversations around the dining tables were pretty much in line with the demographics. The topics had a broad but consistent range that included: reminiscing about younger years; references to old TV shows or movies whose titles or plots were a struggle to recall; ponderings about whatever happened to various products; complaining–lots and lots of complaining–about President Obama, today’s “lost” generation, endless sagas about knee and hip replacements and the number of pills consumed daily. These conversations were always inhibited by failing memories attempting to recall a name of a person or place, or when something had occurred. A common phrase often heard was, “Oh you know who I’m talking about— whatsizname?”
Many of my fellow passengers had weathered well, given the astonishing ages they were quick to disclose. Others, however, had had tougher times dealing with the calendar. Their wrinkle-burdened bodies walked at an extremely slow pace and a good number wobbled side-to-side when they did. This did not, however, slow the pace to the Lido Deck and its incredibly stocked buffet.
There were two or three families onboard with young children. These stood out like aliens from another planet. I figured the kids must be home-schooled and traveling was simply part of their curriculum. They were all very well-behaved and accommodated the pandering of all the elders around them.
Needless to say, it was impossible to avoid thinking about age and the aging process as we blissfully sailed the ocean blue for 14 days. I heard two pages on the loud speakers for medical staff to respond to some kind of situation. There was a noticeable “glad it’s not me” look on faces when the announcements came on. Whether or not any passengers permanently sailed off into the sunset was unknown or at least kept hush-hush.
So, given this undeniable presence of the elderly on this voyage, you can imagine my dismay when I returned to our quaint little cabin whose walls were generously mirrored to make the space appear larger and provide an ever-present reflective image of a man who mysteriously occupied our same quarters. How surprisingly well he fit in with all the other passengers. His sparse but snow-white hair was a good match, as were his sagging cheeks and time-worn eyes. He even hobbled across the room with a slight tilt. It was amazing, whoever this strange man in the mirror was, how much he looked just…like…all…the other….old people on the ship.