Wed, Feb 06, 2008 by rachael
I’ve been back from my Mayercraft Carrier voyage for a few days now but I am still trying to figure out what to say when people ask me, as they inevitably do, “How was it?” Though each time I have strained anew to express exactly how it was, I always return to the simplest, and perhaps truest, reply: “It was weird.”
Because I’d never really had the desire to go on a cruise at any point in my life, and because I’m not the biggest John Mayer fan, I approached the trip with bemused, detached excitement, unburdened by the idealized standards of my fellow travelers—you know, all those people who were actually really keen on the idea being stuck on a boat with a few thousand strangers and the man who penned the line “your bubblegum tongue,” perhaps the most underratedly creepy turn of phrase in all of pop music. With nothing to lose and nothing to prove, I was left to ponder just exactly how weird the experience was going to be.
I expected throngs of screaming, rabid fans chasing any scent of their Chosen One around the vessel like a pack of cracked-out bloodhounds. I expected home-made t-shirts, posters, fainting, crying and heated discussions of favorite song lyrics and impassioned trivia exchanges. I expected rumbles between fan club factions. I expected a “security situation” and a late-night helicopter evacuation. I expected a population of 99% women and 1% men, made up of either beleaguered husbands and boyfriends or opportunistic creeps whose attempts to score with the ladies so unsuccessful on land that they finally just turned to the sea, hoping the salt breeze and the free-flowing umbrella-ed drinks would aid their cause. I expected throngs of young professionals, twenty-somethings with ridiculous disposable incomes and a penchant for mellow, guitar-oriented pop-rock. I expected violent exposure and scathing public ridicule upon being exposed as not-so-much a huge John Mayer fan. I expected insanity. And I knew—I knew it was going to be amazing. Just imagine the stories to be told! The pictures to be taken! The hearing to be lost! The stampedes to avoid! Now that I was excited about.
But much like the doubtlessly sizeable population of young ladies who hoped being trapped on a giant, tacky, floating hotel with Mr. Mayer would somehow result in their meeting and falling in love (or at least some serious canoodling in his stateroom), reality soon proved my early assumptions to be wholly without merit. I was wrong on all counts. People were normal. Except for the “wacky t-shirt contest” on the first day, people dressed—and acted—pretty much like regular human beings. If there was any stalking, it was covert; if there were any superfan battle royales, I must have missed them. When John Mayer himself walked out on the Lido deck Friday afternoon, flanked by a few yellow-shirted event staffers, the masses first grew quiet and then began to wave and flail and scream, but most seemed content to take ridiculously poor-quality digital photos at a distant rather than stampede him. There were women, but there were a lot of men too—not just significant others dragged along, but honest-to-goodness fans themselves. There were grandparents and little kids, teenagers and college students and moms and dads and whole families. No one found out that I didn’t like John Mayer, because no one cared. And the food? Mediocre at best, endless though it was.
So it was all far less weird than I expected, but that somehow made it even more weird. And all the other weird stuff, which I hadn’t even anticipated but was actually weird? Like the mass conflation of Greek, Native American, Chinese and Random Nameless Island Peoples mythologies in the ship’s decor? And how the elevator foyer of every single floor looked the same, so you were never really sure where you were? And how five pieces of lettuce and two croutons served in a shallow dish constituted the dining room’s idea of a Caesar salad? And how toothpaste and razors were free in the room but you have to pay $16 for three pairs of Jockey Women Hi-Cut Briefs if you forgot to pack underwear? (Which I did?) And how you’re standing on the Lido deck double-fisting unnamed fruity drinks in hot pink Best Week Ever cups and that Natasha Bedingfield song is playing and you’re not sure if you feel like you’re in the shampoo commercial or on The Hills?And how the water slide was run with salt water but there’s no sign telling you about that so you have to find out the hard way, at the very bottom of the slide, when you hit the water at 15 miles an hour and suddenly your sinuses are full of saline solution? And how there are a dozen blue-shorted cabana boys swarming you at any given second when you don’t want a drink, but how when you want a drink—or anything else, for that matter—there’s no one around? And how there is mid-to-up-tempo pop music playing all the time from speakers you can’t even see, so it’s like Kelly Clarkson is being piped directly into your brain? And you can’t stop it? And how they just played “Young Folks” for the fifteenth time but you’ve only heard that Regina Spektor song once, what’s the deal, can’t you spread it out a little, and while you’re at it, play something released before 2004? All that? Yeah, it wasn’t even all that weird, because the baseline level of weirdness for a cruise is just so much higher than in normal life that everything that experienced on the boat just seemed par for the course, very rarely exceptional or odd according to the Mayercraft Carrier’s own strange laws of relativity.
That said, if I’d witnessed John Mayer doing his best Borat, I do believe that would have registered as unequivocally weird by any standards. (Best Week Ever had a video up of it earlier today, but I can’t find it now. Oh well. Their liveblog coverage of the weekend provides play-by-play the likes of which I could never recreate at this point.)With the existential purge out of the way, next comes a rundown of the cruise’s musical highlights. Photos, too. Stay tuned!