January 1979

Clark Fonda on Kazakhstan New Years Eve

My Father Time December 31, 1978


Happy New Year!

We, and my little stash of joints that I stuffed into the bottom of tampon tubes, flew back to New Orleans to meet the Kazakhstan in time for our second Christmas here. I had saved a lot of money from waitressing in St. Thomas, so I bought my parents a boom box with a radio, cassette player and a little TV.  They were surprised by the big gift, and have been having fun dialing in channels when in port, mostly finding fuzzy Spanish variety shows. We’ve been traveling for months at a time for the past three years with no TV at all.  You get used to it. The best place for reception is when we’re in port in New Orleans, which is about the only time we get any real news.  The Soviets censor the news here, and are not subtle about it; they print out the day’s news off the wire service, and actually post the original pages with permanent marker blacking out the parts they don’t want people to read. Sometimes I try to stare my way through the black ink to see what it is I shouldn’t know, or that they don’t want the Soviet crew to read. I read everything I can get my hands on. If one of us finds something really good, we all read it. When we were home last summer, I could have cared less about the TV. I just wish we could get Saturday Night Live out here; I love that show.

Sales are good, and the ship is filling up, so they are making a lot of the staff double up this year; the other hostess quit as a result, so they made me hostess again, and squeezed Jill and me into this tiny cabin. There’s barely enough room for the two of us to get dressed at the same time, and no space for all our clothing.  We also share a bathroom with my parents, whose room connects on the other side. Shower times have to be coordinated among the four of us, and we have to remember to lock and unlock both doors on either side of the bathroom so you don’t get walked in on or lock the other room out.  We have all messed that up multiple times.

I get the vibe that Jill, the other hostess, does not care much for me, although she was friendly when we worked together on the Odessa. We coexist in a room that is about the size of a walk in closet, but are silent most of the time; although her glares of disapproval of most everything I do speak very loudly to me. Jill’s American, but speaks fluent Russian, and spends more time drinking straight vodka with the officers than she does hanging out with the rest of the staff.

New to the staff this year are two Italian guys, Gino and Nicky, who play drums and accordion.  They are just a couple of nuts, and I laugh the whole time we hang out; the passengers seem to like them and their music a lot.

Thomas and John are both on the ship again this season. We’re all just friends… no benefits.  Paul is not here, which breaks my heart; he’s  assigned to another line, so we just continue to write, which gives me something to look forward to whenever we are in port.

For the New Year’s Eve party, the cruise director asked my father and me to dress up and work the audience around midnight. My dad was dressed up as Father Time in a costume I made, with a sickle from cut up cardboard taped to the end of a broom handle and covered with foil, a white sheet, and ghostly white makeup; he walked around the room, looking quite ominous and frankly, a little creepy. I represented the New Year.  My costume was high heels and a bunch of balloons all attached around me like a giant blob of colorful soap bubbles.  When they played Auld Lang Syne at midnight, I had to work my way around the audience while they eagerly popped my balloons, until I was down to just a bikini and a Happy New Year 1979 sash, which is kind of creepy on their part. That’s a normal evening in my show business life.

Click to Play Auld Lang Syne – by Guy Lombardo [audiotube id=”Q-ncPPArxEk”]

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