Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

So that title was supposed to be in reference to the arrival of my folks (which happens later), but it actually works fairly nicely with the first big thing to have happened since last I wrote: the inauguration.

The cast all huddled together in one of the rooms watching CNN, and while there are very few moments that Wolf Blitzer can’t ruin (Yo Yo Ma and Yitzhak Perlman aren’t your backup band, you tool!), it was all very lovely. Mind you, I remain all jaded and cynical about each and every politician, but I get pleasure from the hope of others, and I am genuinely grateful to see a world leader who values rhetoric and the spoken word. I suppose there’s cause for a rant about how sad it is that a politician who’s able and willing to articulate a viewpoint is a rarity, but I’ll let lying dogs sleep. For now.

Other than that, a fairly uneventful five-day, a long walk in Cozumel notwithstanding. I seem to recall being asked at one of our rehearsals what interesting had happened to me that day, and I seem to recall my answer being that my shoelace had gotten caught in a stationary bike. It was true, and it was funny, but still…

I did manage in one of the shows to get everyone on stage but me to corpse, which is always fun. (In fairness, some of it may have been chain reaction, but it started with me.) We were doing “Sing It,” Ashley and I were astronauts (I couldn’t love her because Russians during the Cold War weren’t allowed to feel love), and Mike, who had been our monkey Sputnik II, unzipped his monkey costume to reveal that he was actually a NASA commander sent to spy on us. Upon this reveal, in my best mix of incredulous and hurt, I cried “You threw your feces at me!”

Ta da!

Moving on…

And then with the nine-day, the parents! I met them in Miami, where we were promptly ripped off by a cab driver. (Grrr! Everywhere else, I have my guard up, but I still expect in major American cities for the social contract and the rule of law to be in place. Ah well, live and learn.) After a quick acclimatizing and tour of the ship, my worlds collided over dinner at Tango’s, the onboard Mexican restaurant. As far as I recall, no embarrassing revelations were made by either side, but it’s possible I’ve repressed it.

Inspired by my parent’s arrival, I made my first visit down to the excursion escort signup, and it’s definitely something I’m going to keep doing. It’s pretty incredible. Crew members get to accompany excursions for free, and the expectations for what we have to do are pretty low: keep count of the passengers to make sure no one gets stranded, help people as necessary, fill out some quality-assurance paperwork when you get back…Suffice it to say, pretty great deal, and they seem to like the Second City folk.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

Samana, Dominican Republic: I accompanied Mother on a walking tour of Samana. This was a mistake on my part. Samana is known for being quite poor and bleak, but I assumed that a walking tour would find the nice parts. I was mistaken. Or possibly misled. If you read the description “La Churcha was built in England where it was unassembled and then reassembled piece by piece in Samana,” would you be expecting sheet metal? Me, not so much. But hey, who are we to hide from the reality of life in Samana?

Tortola, British Virgin Islands: The family went to Virgin Gorda. It was gorgeous. Of course, shortly upon arrival, I made the arguably selfish but fully sanctioned decision to go to another beach through caves that I was the only Hershfield capable of getting through. Of course, most of the day was spent in transit, so no guilt here, sir! The snorkeling was great, with the water very clear and all sorts of great boulders and caves to explore. It was just over far too quickly, so the plan is to go back with the cast, leaving early and coming back late (on time, but late.)

Antigua: We did the Fort James and Beach tour. Fort James is a close relative of Nelson’s Dockyard, and we saw both. Of course, the historical feel is somewhat obscured by a preponderance of gift shops, but still some very nice views to be seen (you can definitely see why famous people dry out there!) Then the beach, which was nice and laid-back.

There were two moments of note at the beach. The first was my mother was reading some health magazine, and she hands it to me and says “Is that a picture of the Jewel?” (our ship) To which I reply, “Well, I can’t tell the ship from the picture, but that’s Jennine standing in front of it, so I’m going to say ‘Yes.’” It is a small world after all!

(Dave, please pass along to Jennine (unless Jennine’s reading this independently, in which case, “Hey there!”) that I’ve actually managed to lose weight onboard, but the method probably isn’t ideal. Basically, it involves spending the year before going living like a gluttonous shut-in, so that even a moderate amount of restraint and exercise causes weight loss. That said, I have gone up a level in my recombinant stationary bike hill program, so while it’s not exactly like I have to check my nutsack on a regular basis to make sure I’m not Lance Armstrong, progress is being made!)

The other moment of note was the polishing off of Rick Mercer Report: The Book. (That’s right, it’s Book Report time again!) A good read, but somewhat defeated the purpose for it I had in mind. I was hoping for laughs (which there were, to be fair), but forgetting how much Canadian politics generally piss me off. All the more when you gather up and compile all the stupidity. In the time Rick Mercer’s show has been on the air, we’ve gone from a Liberal government interested only in power with just a pretense of concern for public welfare to a Conservative government who differs only in that they don’t even bother with the pretense. (Oh, and the NDP piss me off too, lest it seems like they’re being left out. Not that they’re unaccustomed to being left out, mind you…)

Things I miss about Canada: Poutine. Being able to piss and moan about Canadian politics to people who might care. You. (Not necessarily in that order.)

I don’t know what I’m going to read next. It should be The Source, but it’s daunting, both in overall and chapter length. I’ll keep you posted.

Also, I finished the first season of Friday Night Lights. I really loved it. I’m thinking it might be a good series for me to write an hour-long spec for. (My 30 Rock is coming along, thank you for asking.) Mind you, I’ll have to see the next season, as I’m somewhat worried about diminishing returns, but so far, so good.

Barbados: Father and I took in the Turtle and Shipwreck Snorkel Excursion. It was pretty good. It was great snorkeling over the Hawksbill turtles, though it was somewhat irritating being surrounded by other gawkers and more than one jerkass who felt entitled to dive and grab at the turtles, despite specific instructions not to. One was even pulling at the shell. It’s pretty incredible: it’s one thing to not care about ruining the experience for the people you’re with (as it scared the turtles off, after having coaxed them over), it’s one thing not to care about future tours (as endangering the turtles, which are already endangered, could, among other things, lead to the cessation of tours), but what kind of person sees an endangered species and thinks “Hmmm, I wonder what it would be like to hurt it?” It takes all kinds, I suppose. As for the shipwreck, also pretty funky, with fish swimming in and out of it like nobody’s business. Of course, it being a smaller focal point, people were really on top of each other there, but it’s a short distance from The Boatyard, so I’m thinking I might give it another gander when the mob’s not there.

So that’s where we are now. Couple more days with the folks, in which they’ll see me perform improv for the first time in years (I’m warming up to the idea, though I still don’t want to make a habit of it!), and then five days of rubbing elbows with Canadian royalty, knock on wood. The revolution will be photographed.

Ummm, and then I’ll come up with interesting things to do for the month and a half (and beyond?) following.  TTFN!

3 Responses to “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”

  1. Dave Pearce says:

    I didn’t get published credit for that photo, btw…but it was the Jewel, in Antigua.

    Five Factor Fitness, buddy…it really, really works.

    And didn’t I tell you about the excursions?

  2. Dan Hershfield says:

    You did indeed. But it took my parents’ visit to actually take the plunge.

    Up until now, we’d been doing a fair bit of hanging out as a cast in port, or just lazing, but as a group, we’ve gone excursion-crazy. As it is, I’ll probably cut back when the folks go, but there are definitely a few more excursions I really want to check out.

    If nothing else, I will see a monkey. And teach it to play hockey. That’s what aspiring screenwriters do.

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