March 1979

Ruth Fonda and Sid Kane doing Pork Chop Routine

Ruth Fonda and Actor Sid Kane doing comedy routine on Kazakstan on the big brass dance floor in the Music Salon

I am so pissed; my cabin-mate, Jill, screwed me over good. To be more specific, it was a Russian that she screwed, but I’m the one who bled after that particular cherry was popped. Everyone understands the rules: the Americans are not supposed to fraternize with the Soviets.  Those rules are applied more loosely to the top ship officers, but are really strict when it comes to the crew.  You have to be careful about with whom you seem to be too friendly.  One day, I went in the music salon, where we have dancing and stage shows, and found Svetlana, a crew member I like, polishing the huge brass dance floor by hand all by herself.  She actually had to use a toothbrush to scrub the crevices to make it perfect.  I felt so bad for her; I got my own toothbrush and stayed the day to help her; we enjoyed chatting in her broken English and my pathetic Russian.  She was afraid I’d get in trouble, but I didn’t think it was a big risk.  The next day, in gratitude, she gave me some Russian perfume. The oval shaped bottle, with its glass stopper top, is very nice, but the stench is an overpowering assault to the senses. I think the Soviets like strong perfume because it covers up B/O.  I imagine they shower regularly, however, I don’t think they use deodorant, and then they wear the same clothes over and over and over again before laundering.  Bottom line is that I won’t be using the perfume except as a vanity ornament.

Kazakhstan Music Salon from Ship Brochure

It’s fine to talk to and hang out in the clubs with the officers, but going to a cabin alone with one of them is definitely off-limits. The most I have ever fraternized with a Soviet officer was on the crew change trip to Cuba last year when we had a mixed staff and officer cabin party/wake in honor of the cruise director who had just died. I played Monopoly with one of the Russian officers, and after my game-winning move, he abruptly pushed back his chair, stood tall, and called me a damn capitalist, loud enough to make the others in the room quiet and turn to look.  Maybe that was for the benefit of those listening on the other side of the light fixtures, but I thought it was funny. Since Jill speaks fluent Russian, she regularly fraternizes much more than that. On the night she screwed me, I’d been hanging out with Gino, and when I went back to my cabin, I found Jill had doubled locked the door from the inside, so I could not get in, even with my key. From the hallway, through the door, I could hear Jill having sex in our room.  I left, irritated by the thought that she was probably in my lower bunk bed; I came back later, but it was still double-locked.  So I called from Gino and Nicky’s cabin next door; I could hear the phone ringing though the wall, but she would not answer, nor would she answer the door when I knocked again and again. I eventually gave up and went to sleep with Gino in his upper bed while Nicky slept on the bottom bunk.

The first thing in the morning at breakfast, I saw my parents, who wanted to know exactly where I had been all night.  I simply told them that I was locked out of my cabin, so I just slept in Nicky and Gino’s room. It was a truth I should not have told; they were pissed. I explained that Nicky was there too and that nothing had happened. They said I should have gone to their room to let them know what was going on, but I explained that it was late and did not want to wake them to go through the other side and interrupt an awkward situation.  Apparently, they were already awake and knew very well what was going on because they had heard her. My dad had gone through the adjoining bathroom and opened the door into our cabin and saw Jill and the Russian in my bed. They listened to that action all night, wondering where I was.

Later that morning, my mom cornered me alone and said that my father was so upset that he was going to have a heart attack, and that I needed to tell him I was still a virgin. I did talk to my father, apologized for making them worry, and swore nothing happened that night, which was the truth.  I did not claim I was a virgin, and he didn’t ask outright.  Then, he wanted to have a talk with both Gino and me about sex and responsibility.  He sat us down together and explained that he understands that sex is all good fun and pleasurable, but warned us about the risks of getting pregnant and about disease, and added that it was illegal because I was underage. I give Gino credit for just listening and being respectful to my dad.

For the first time in my life, I am grounded, which means that my parents need to know where I am at all times, and I cannot see Gino alone. I’ve managed to talk to him a few times out on deck, but that is about it.  I feel like everyone is mad at me…although my parents are probably more disappointed than angry.  They have given me a lot of freedom and now they are wondering if that was a mistake.  My mom tells me that it is going to be a long time before they will be able to trust me again. That hurts more than any punishment they could impose.

Gino is pissed because my parents are keeping us apart, and he is mad at me for not defying them. He feels I should stand up for him and go against their new rules.  When we got a chance to talk out on deck, he said that when it comes down to it, there really is just us two alone in this world, and that everyone else will let me down.  My family, my friends, everyone else I know will disappoint me and turn their backs, and that only he will be there for me in my life.  But because I won’t just ignore my parents, he now questions if I will be there for him.  He says my betrayal of him is like one of the Al Jarreau songs, You Dont See Me.  A while ago, I made him this little booklet based on songs on the Look to the Rainbow tapes. My book quoted the lyrics that meant something special, and I illustrated each page. He, on the other hand, selected the one negative song on the whole cassette to throw in my face to illustrate that I’m not supporting him.  He got so pissed off at me that he practically ripped off the white dinner jacket we bought together at that vintage store in New Orleans, balled it up, and hurled it overboard. I’m lucky I didn’t tumble in myself trying to stop him and catch it.  But I missed, and watched it fall and then disappear into the black ocean.

Click to play You Don’t See Me – by Al Jarreau     [audiotube id=”7gb9mcJxTjw”]

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