We get on the boat. Annie is super excited. Neither of us have ever been on a cruise before. It’s a double-decker catamaran with plush carpets and tinted windows that overlook the bay. We go to our table and sit down next to two middle aged men, named and Andrew and Gaz, who we soon find out got their tickets for the boat as a Christmas present. They live at home with a slow cooker and a dog called Sandy.
Then come Rosemary and Keith. Their grandkids bought them tickets as a Christmas present. They have been married for 56 years and remember when coffee was $1.20. They assure us that once we get married, the time will fly by and soon we’ll have been together for 56 years too. Jon makes a face.
Next on the boat is a man and his wife. They don’t tell us their names, but they look vaguely familiar. The man shows a keen interest in our Polaroid camera, but refuses to be photographed. His wife doesn’t like salmon.
Keith loves the salmon. He eats Andrew and Gaz’s too.
Rosemary starts talking about her dog. It’s a Bichon Frise. The mysterious man sitting next to us has a dog too. Soon everyone around us is comparing photos of small, fluffy white bundles of non-descript fur.
Annie sighs. She has a cat.
As the boat pulls away from the harbor, we can just make out the faint figures of Mr. and Mrs. Jolly standing on the pier. Mrs. Jolly is franticly waving around her arms, making us think that there’s some terrible sea monster, lurking right out of view. Jon raises his hand in a farewell, not that she’ll be able to see us.
Jon goes up to the bar and gets us our complimentary drinks. Neither of us like alcohol, so lemon lime and bitters will have to do. When he comes back to our table, Annie asks, “Oh, did you just get lemonade?”
Jon looks down at the clear liquid in his glass. There’s a faint drop of pink, right at the bottom. He tastes it. “I think so?”
Andrew also gets a lemon lime and bitters, only his is dark burgundy.
Gaz makes a bold move and asks the mysterious man, “Have I seen you somewhere before?”
The stranger sitting next to us raises an eyebrow.
“Maybe on TV or something?” says Andrew.
The stranger looks away. His wife digs around in her purse.
That’s when the penny drops.
Jon exclaims, “You’re Burt Reynolds!”
Burt replies, “Shh! I’m incognitio.”
Gaz and Andrew still don’t know who he is. Rosemary continues to talk about her dog.
Jon’s eating a scone. It’s his third, jam and cream piled high. “I’m starting to feel sick.” he says.
Annie rolls her eyes. “Let’s take you out on the deck.”
We’re sailing around the bay, the city a distant spot on the horizon. It’s smooth sailing, but Jon still feels queasy. Burt Reynolds soon joins us on the ship’s deck. He asks, “So what are you guys gonna have for dinner?”
“Scones,” Jon replies.
Suddenly, the boat rocks violently. Burt almost falls over the safety railing. We look up to the bridge and see a pale faced, spotty child at the helm, being berated by a senior officer.
“Damn, work experience kids!” says Burt.
After a while, Burt goes back inside, and soon, we’re heading home, towards the harbour. The Bolte Bridge looms large on the horizon. A young couple quickly jumps out onto the deck. The man says, “Hurry! I need a picture with the bridge.”
The woman holds up her iPad and obliges.
The man looked up at the sky, posing like some sort of Bolte Bridge bandit. The woman takes a few photos hands him the iPad. He looks frustrated and shakes his head, and then they begin the cycle all over again.
We go back inside.
Jon decides to try for another lemon lime and bitters. He walks up to the bar and is served a drink. It looks better than the first one he’d been given. When he gets given his change from two $5 notes, he is perplexed. He has been given six one dollar coins. They don’t all fit in his wallet.
It’s been such a lovely afternoon – a perfect date and a wonderful High Tea cruise. When we pull into the dock, Annie looks sad. She doesn’t want to get off the boat. Jon literally has to drag her to the shore.
Much love, A + J