Birthday Cruise – Part One
My wife, Anne, and I stood at the bottom of a set of stairs on Deck 18 of our gigantic cruise ship. The sign advertised the ship’s sun-deck at the top of the stairs and noted that it was for “Adults Only.” I couldn’t decide if that was a warning, a challenge, or an invitation. I looked at Anne out of the corner of my eye to try to gauge what she was thinking, but her expression betrayed nothing. For the most part she’s quite conservative sexually, and I sometimes tease her about being a prude even though she has no reason to be. She is a beautiful woman with dark brown hair past her shoulders and a body that makes me salivate even after 17 years of marriage. A part of me still wondered if she would go through with it, but she boldly ascended the stairs in front of me to what we’d heard was the small, private, “clothing optional” part of the ship. The two glasses of wine she had at the pool bar undoubtedly boosted her courage.
By way of background, Anne and I both turned 40 last year, her in November and me in January. We spent weeks planning and negotiating what we’d do for our birthdays and ultimately agreed on a Mediterranean cruise. We decided to go in the summer to split the difference between our birthdays, but also to ensure that our kids would be finished school for the year and away at summer camp.
It was the fourth day of our cruise and we were sailing towards southern France. Two days earlier I was relaxing in one of the hot tubs on the pool deck while Anne gave one of the treadmills in the fitness centre a workout. An older North American couple joined me and asked if I’d been to the sun-deck yet. I had no idea what they were talking about. The man explained that they had been exploring the vast ship earlier and found the sun-deck quite by accident. From the sign, they thought it was another pool area where adults could go for some peace and quiet away from the main pool deck and its music, bars, and laughing and screaming kids. They got the shock of their lives at the top of the stairs.
“It’s a topless area,” the man explained to me with a slight grin.