Standing at the railing, waiting for the boat to depart, I felt a weight of responsibility on my shoulders that no child should bear. My brothers were in apprenticeship with my father, but at the age of 21 I was expected to find a husband far above my station in life.
My parents saved money to give me a graduation present, 6 weeks visiting places in Europe I’d only dreamed of seeing. I’d landed a job that was to start 2 months away. Perfect timing!
As you can imagine, it didn’t come without a price. My mother had advised me not to arrive back home without an engagement ring. My father, a very successful plumber, had less-than-practical advice to offer. “Don’t come back if you get knocked up. We don’t want an unwed mother in our family.”
I didn’t like the long-hairs with their unkempt sideburns, or the expectation that any woman who didn’t want to “put out” was a “prude.” Where do people come up with words like that?
Most women on the cruise didn’t like the so-called hippies either. All they talked about at dinner was some guy they’d named “Mr. Handsome.” True, his last name is Hanson, but what else would you call a tall man with intense green eyes, shoulders like a line backer and a smile that would make a piranha fall in love with him?
Most men didn’t like the way the pretty women passed them by as they followed Mr. Handsome. He’d politely say a few words, back away, and wander off toward his room. So much gossip, wondering about the mysterious man in the polo shirt who didn’t wear a fedora, or casual Panama hat like a gentleman should.
After one incident with a woman who thought silk dresses were a must-wear on deck, most women on the cruise shied away from me. They congregated to point at me…whispering…laughing. That stopped the day their mysterious love interest walked up on deck, stood in front of my lounge chair and asked, “Care to explore a castle with me?”