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


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Coral Princess 5/2 – 5/5

By Milt Abel | May 22, 2008

| May 22, 2008

At the beginning of this trip, two days ago, I read in the local paper that our federal government was going forward with allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms in national parks. What purpose can it serve, in a park, to be naïve as to whether someone is packing heat or not? Deterrence I suppose. You’d think a gun itself would be counter to the agenda of a natural preserve, but now the weapon can be hidden so bears and wolves and will have no idea who they should avoid shaking down for food, so they’ll avoid shaking down everyone. That must be the thinking. Isn’t that the rationale among us humans?

I am no fan of guns. I read somewhere that a gun in the house is 20 times more likely to kill another member of the household than an intruder. For security we have a couple big dogs, and they, unlike a gun, have some owner loyalty; they won’t fall into the wrong hands. A sobering consideration about a handgun in the house is to imagine the scenario of confronting an intruder, both of you armed: do you shoot first? I wonder if people consider all the trouble and consequence that comes from shooting someone in your own house? Cleaning blood out of the carpet comes to mind as one of the little details the gun(g)-ho might not think about when running through vigilante daydreams. So maybe it is a rule to not shoot first. Do you want to shoot second? Third? Any higher number would be ridiculous. I don’t want to shoot first, second, or eleventh. So if you see a bulge in my clothes at a National Park, it’s just a fanny pack, or more likely some extra weight –which of course will make me look more appetizing to predators, but maybe now they’ll worry it’s a gun.

My first night onboard the Coral Princess, Joshua Seth, the hypnotist I commuted with from the San Jose, Costa Rica airport, performed. He and his stage assistant/girlfriend, myself, and an oven repair contractor shared the two-hour mountainous drive to the port city of Puntarenas. It’s a drive I made just three days earlier heading the other way and it is a precarious, bumpy, and frustrating chug in both directions. The frustration comes from the road being barely two lanes and you’ll often find yourself behind a loaded commercial truck crawling uphill in gear so low its mere opinion keeps it from being reverse.

I asked the oven repair contractor, a professional, what would be the best make of stove. We have a vintage stove in our house that has seen better days; it’s remarkable and authentic but like Gloria Dehaven’s character is Sunset Boulevard, past its prime and ready for arrest. He told me Vulcan. This comes a from a man who brings heat monitoring instruments thousands of miles around to world to make sure your buns are properly browned.

The hypnotist’s show was fun and successful. Atypically there was negative soul buried in the participants on stage. There is a ‘classic’ bit of stage hypnotism business where it’s suggested to a subject that they speak a language no one has heard on earth while another subject is given the suggestion they can understand this gibberish and will feel compelled to translate the important message. It’s a lot like watching the dialogue in an Independent art movie from the U.K; completely undecipherable claptrap except for saving grace of the subtitles. I’ve seen this hypnotism shtick a couple times and it’s genuine fun, usually it’s a chance for someone (the translator) to say something that they feel is important to them under the guise of a message from another planet. I’ve seen it mostly provide a vehicle for saying we should all love one another, savor every moment of our lives, things like that. This gal ‘translated’ that the man speaking gibberish was taking all the food at the buffet and to watch your money at the crap table in the casino. I assumed this twenty-something gal was single and I worried for anyone attempting to date her.

The next morning, outside my cabin I saw the hypnotist and his girlfriend and I complimented him on the show, telling a few points in particular I enjoyed. He then asked, “Which show did you see?” referring to the eight o’clock or the ten-fifteen.

I saw only the eight o’clock show and heard nothing of the ten-fifteen but thought I would have some fun, so I responding impishly by saying, “The good one.”

His eyes instantly widened and said, “you heard?”

What I meant to be a light touch of playfulness had unintentionally slipped deep into the skin and come near the heart. Entertainers are vulnerable people, despite that they parade themselves in front of everyone to be judged; maybe it’s because of that fact. But we are almost morbidly concerned about what people say and hear about us, and our shows. He said the late show was the worst in his career and went on to great lengths explaining why it earned the title. I told him I was just joking and hadn’t seen the other show, nor heard anything about it. I could tell he wasn’t satisfied with that reply and probably wanted to hypnotize me right there into forgetting I ever saw the late show.

Maybe he did, and maybe I had.

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