Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.


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Four Finger Hands

By Milt Abel | May 25, 2011

| May 25, 2011

Four Finger Hands

I was explaining to my wife the constraint I work under when I open the door for my cabin attendant, and she interrupted me to say, sarcastically, “We all think about those same things.” Here’s the constraint: ‘How can you get someone to laugh, when all you are doing is opening the door to greet them?’ This is what I do: I open the door wide, and even though they are filling the threshold I look over their shoulder and all around is if someone was doing the old ring-n-run on me, then settle on some eye contact with a startled jump and say, “Oh! I didn’t see you.” Some laugh. Some think I’m nuts. Some wished it would take less time for me to let them in. But Purta, that was his name, Putra, -another culture- (I immediately wondered if he had a sister named Putrid, but I kept that one to myself) thought it was the funniest thing he’d seen in months, maybe years. He thought it was so funny that he had to throw the same pantomime back at me every…single…time…he saw me onboard after that. It might have been flattering a couple times; but after you tell him to stop, and then you stop with the courtesy smiles; and he still continues, it becomes harassment. The funny thing is, it became funny again after about the fourteenth or fifteenth time. Maybe I was giddy over his sheer commitment, but I started laughing again and slapping him on the back.

Luckily I was on the Holland America Statendam for only four days, otherwise by day nine or more my reactions might have swung back, and more severely. It was a short cruise from San Diego to Vancouver and, I’l say it again, Holland is my favorite line. I get paid more elsewhere, the audiences are better at this other line, and the theaters better on another cruise line, but all-in-all; put me on a Dam Holland ship. There’s just a relaxed atmosphere on their ships, plus the right amount of open spaces, and the food… well, I gain weight.

I had misread the website information, thinking it would be three sea days, but was delighted to find out we would be spending 12 hours in Victoria, B.C. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world, and I’ve seen a few. Any city set beside the ocean has a running start to be more appreciated, less severe weather, better food, and lovely walks and crashing waves are always nearby. Our Cruise Director, Anthony, warned of rain but not even a drizzle showed. It’s a lovely mile walk through a quiet neighborhood and a bayside walkway from the cruise pier to one of the more picturesque downtowns. Here’s a picture snapped towards the end of that walk to prove how picturesque.

It was the first visit of the season for the Statendam so paperwork for embarking and disembarking was slow at both Victoria and Vancouver. When I finally got off the ship Tuesday morning there where dozens of local guides dressed in red jackets and wearing a single, abnormally large, white padded hand that had only four fingers and three black lines running down the back to mimic the lines the bones in our own hands make.

The first person I saw wearing this at Canada Place Cruise Pier put me in the mood to do exactly what I do to cabin attendants; ‘What can I say to this total stranger to get a laugh?’ It sort of looked like a swollen, bandaged hand so I said, “Ow, that must have really hurt to cause that kind of swelling.” It worked, she laughed then swung the cartoonish hand like a sign to indicate the direction I needed to keep walking. After spotting the fourth person wearing the same silly looking mitt I remembered I saw a Disney Ship also parked at the same pier. These were locals contracted to wear a signature glove while directing traffic. It was so like Disney, brand everything that does and doesn’t move.

The fact that the hand had four fingers instead of five was to keep it all from being too real; reminding us that it’s an enchantment and cartoon. That’s why Walt Disney drew Mickey Mouse that way, to promote the fantasy. If the little mouse was too real we’d probably try and kill it.

Topics: comedy, cruise ship, travel | No Comments »