Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Road Monkeys W.M.F.D.

One of the great things about being on a ship is running into other road monkeys. I use the term road monkey advisedly and with great reverence. I am proud to be a road monkey myself and a member of the invited only Facebook page. It is a site where comics and novelty acts that primarily work the ships communicate. Last year when I was in Alaska I wondered how some of the entertainers on the ship knew where to find each other in Skagway and other ports and off different ships. It was the road monkey page and at the time I was not a member. Thanks to my friend Steve Smith I was asked to join recently.
Now I can post, "I'm going on the Serenade this week who is on already." If someone is on or com in aboard while I am there you can find out. You can also communicate with all the other monkeys that are hooked up on any other cruise line. There are codes to let you know what kind of Cruise director it is and what to expect from the production manager all hidden in what looks like regular communication. Then there will be the rendezvous set up when and where to meet on a port day. The communication crosses cruise lines and acts, and is mostly comics. It is a great way to have an inside track at sea.
On this ship I ran into Billy Prudume , George Kanter, Rick Starr and Joey Van coming and going. I have not seen any of them for a decade. Being sea locked is a great place to shoot the breeze and catch up. There are so many great people out here, except for crossing ships or ports we might never cross paths. None of the people I mentioned live in Los Angeles.
The inevitable road stories come up and the game is to top everyone with the best story. I started late on ships and mine are generally he least interesting tales, but I love hearing the others. Perhaps my only story that can compete is the time I had to leave a ship by rope ladder onto a pilot boat at 4:00 am while the ship was sailing full out to the Panama Canal. I literally felt like a drug smuggler, getting on a small boat from the mother ship with a crew that spoke no english and not knowing exactly where they were taking me. I sat in an office that functioned as sort of the traffic controller of the Canal for several hours before being driven to the airport. On a scale of one to ten and compared to the other Monkey tales my story would rank about a five to six. You can imagine the others. Most are not retell-able because they involve ship policy, or errant conquests of the opposite sex. Mine gets a couple extra points for being clean enough to tell in mixed company.
Joey Van is a comic impressionist and a double talker. He will do his show tomorrow night here on the Serenade. Everyone, including me, has stories about Joey. It usually involves his double speak in situations outside the ship. He will double talk any unsuspecting person and particularly likes to confuse the trinket traders at foreign ports. It is amazing that a store keeper will try to make a sale even if they have no clue what the guy is saying in any language. Most people will become irritated and frustrated when they keep trying to understand, but not a Jamaican souvenir seller. They will negotiate in this impossible language for hours if it might lead to a sale.
As far as port peddlers go I have my own negotiation technique, especially in Haiti at the straw market. They sell voodoo dolls there which are nothing more than sawdust stuffed muslin figures. The marketeers will start the price at 10 dollars. On most things you can negotiate down to about half the original price. For a couple of runs I was paying that much for one doll. I started giving them as gifts because there is much cache in an authentic voodoo doll actually purchased in Haiti. That is even more true for my friends.
However, I realized that I had an advantage in the negotiation process that I was not taking advantage of: I could make the voodoo doll talk. On subsequent trips I began asking the doll itself if that was a good price to pay and the doll would answer no. It would freak out the shop keeper and eventually they would be glad to get rid of the possessed doll. I get them for two bucks apiece now. If I had the time or the desire and wanted to continue to perform in the straw market I might be able to get the shop owner to pay me to take the doll away.
I finished my shows last night and am now cargo for two days. It would be nice if they would disembark me today in Barbados, but I have to wait till Antigua so that Joey and I can disembark together. It is easier for the ship and although you would think an extra couple of free days on a vacation cruise would be a perk.... I am always ready to go home once I don't have any shows to look forward to.
As you were,

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