Friends with Benefits

Sometimes on your travels you’re lucky enough to meet great people who make a lasting impression in a really good way. For years we have cruised annually with our besties Ian and Cathie. Rudy and Ian lounge and read and chat about anything under the sun while Cath and I study the human condition from our deck chairs. We literally sit for hours and watch people while adding commentary and make up stories about them. Ian gets a good chuckle out of this practise. I’ve been known to do similar with my sister on occasion. Sometimes in inappropriate settings like the hospital waiting room for example. People are so amazingly unpredictable and hilarious.

And sometimes you are randomly thrust into the company of strangers and there’s a click. That’s what happened on this cruise. We were placed at a dinner table with two other couples and we started to chat. First date stuff like where are you from, what do you do .. the usual small talk to find similarities and commonalities. During dinner we find that Dan and Bonnie from Dallas are really neat and we’d like to hang a bit more.

One of the things we truly appreciated was their easy going manner. They would do their thing during the day and we would meet up st dinner. In order to get the prime table by the window we had to eat early (5:15 pm) which in real life isn’t bad, but in cruise surrealist life where you eat nonstop all day, it’s a tad early. We made it work. Totally worth the effort and (perceives) inconvenience.

We would review our daily activities and learned early on that they play bridge. Rudy and I tried to learn on our last trans-Atlantic but the guest instructor was horrible. We were totally confused. Even other seasoned players commented that they were lost. Luck of the draw; we packed it in. Bonnie and Dan offered to teach us. Now we’re hooked. Every night (just about) we retired to a card table and played bridge. We still have a ton to learn and absorb as there are more rules and strategies to bridge than a Roberts Rule meeting. But we get the gist.

Bonnie’s an interior designer who’s keen eye for style is evident in her personal taste; she arrives for dinner each night in a thoughtful, elegant outfit that complements her stylish white bobbed hair and bright blue eyes.

Dan (who we have dubbed Lieutenant Dan) is a refined gentleman with a mischievous grin and twinkle in his eye.

Both have a great sense of humour and wit as well as sharp intelligence. We really enjoy their company.

On our last cruising day it is their 51st wedding anniversary and they ask us to join them for a special dinner in one of the premium restaurants on board, Giovanni’s. The restaurant has floor to ceiling windows allowing the intense sunset to lighten the room in an ethereal way. The waiter (familiar to Bonnie and Dan) starts us with olive oil/balsamic/Parmesan and warm crusty bread. Then the charcuterie board and pickled vegetables arrive. We toast the anniversary couple and place our dinner orders. Osso Bucco and filet mignon are recommended. The next course is appetizers; the table shares a delicious caprese style salad and I can’t resist the pork belly. By the time entrees arrive I am stuffed.

After dinner the staff bring a festive plate to celebrate the anniversary couple and the entire restaurant sings and toasts. It’s the perfect salute to a lovely couple. So glad we met.

Hopefully our paths cross again.

PS. Bonnie is the only woman I know who can apply lip liner and lipstick flawlessly WITHOUT a mirror!

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