Steve Bluestein is a comedic genius and just a warm, sweet guy. He has written for TV, film, comic strips too! He’s done Stand-up for over 20 years and has distributed so many belly laughs and myriad of joyful moments to us all. Look him up, wiki him, google him watch his reel.. all of it.. He’s spectacular!
So, Steve took a little vacation. A cruise. Europe! Upon his return he shared in all of his glory, only the way Steve can, a complete and totally comedic verbal waterfall which we will be sharing with you! Now, before you take the journey of “The Vacation” I asked Steve a couple of questions.
KAB: How old were you when you figured out you were funny and what was the circumstance?
SB: I was about nine. My Aunt was saying that my Uncle was a big baby… I got up and left the room. My mother asked, “Where are you going.” and I said. “To change Uncle’s diapers.” HUGE LAUGH.
KAB : Is there anything you would like to tell folks about your latest book, ” It’s So Hard to Type with a Gun in My Mouth.”.. other than buy buy buy?
SB: Just that it’s funny and touching and people seem to find it helps them.
KAB: It’s very true Steve, I’ve read it. I loved it! Do you plan on going on another cruise in the future?
SB: As soon as I can… I need the material.
So fasten your life preserver, as your oxygen mask deploys from the overhead compartment, hold on to your drink……Here’s Steve Bluestein!!
Planes, Boats, Children, Appetizers and Steve Bluestein….
by Steve Bluestein
I don’t take vacations Why? I never leave my home and it’s hard to get Paris to come to my house. So when I do take a vacation it’s a big deal. The big deal started seven months ago when I decided to take another cruise. Are you ready?
THE FLIGHT TO ENGLAND.
British Airlines has managed to squeeze every possible inch of space into those planes. The only way they could get more people in is if they lined the interior with Vaseline and stacked us in with Velcro.
I’m in my seat and so far so good. No Samoan woman has taken the seat beside me. I’m on the aisle and I can manage some elbow room. We take off and I’m serene, the flight is safe and smooth… and then it starts. Apparently, the seat behind me is occupied by a nine-year old Rockette who kicks the seat like it’s the Easter Show at Radio City Music Hall. This kid thumped my seat from LA, half was across the Atlantic Ocean waking me every 15 minutes. I couldn’t take it any longer. I turned around and said in my sweetest voice, “ Kick the back of my seat one more time and you’ll find out why the windows don’t open” Where are the parents of mini Ann Miller… they are sitting in front of me, by the exit row, with enough let room to accommodate Tommy Tune.
And let me tell you about the flight attendants. They were so young I thought if there was an emergency I was going to have to burp them to calm their nerves. Where do they recruit Romper Room?
We land in London… easy breezy through immigration… customs… done in 20 minutes. Although I must say if Satan ever designed an airport it’s Heath Row… you land walk down miles of corridors, take an elevator up to a train who takes you to your gate. By this time you want turn around and head back home. I continue on. the limo driver is waiting for me as ordered and we head to the elevator. He moves up to the door. I follow. The elevator doors open and a short, fat English woman who looks like Winston Churchill screams at me, “WHERE THE BLOODY ELL DO YOU THINK YOUS GOIN’. ARE YA BLIND. THERE’S A QUEUE ERE.” And she says it with such a loud voice that the entire terminal stops and turns to see who the American asshole is. I say, “I’m sorry I didn’t see the line.” To which her husband adds, “DEN YOURA MORON CAUSE DA LINE’S RIGHT ERE.” To which I say, “Aren’t you two a wonderful representation of English grace and charm.” This shocks them both, they are dumbfounded. England has grace and charm?
The elevator doors open and my driver heads in. OHHHHH NOOOO, I shout. “I’m not entering an enclosed space with Bonnie and Clyde.” A stranger on the elevator says, “Good on ya luv” and the elevator doors close. I’VE BEEN IN ENGLAND TWENTY MINUTES.
We get to the hotel and it’s lovely… modern, clean… everything you’d hope for in a London residence…the only problem is it was designed by a science fiction writer. I could get nothing to work, not the lights, not the water in the bathroom, not the TV. I felt like the apes in the beginning of 2001 a Space Odyssey. I was banging on the pipes with that hanger that has no head on it. Now that I’ve been totally demoralized I discover the hotel is off the beaten path… Yugoslavia is closer. So to see anything we walk and we walk and we walk… we walk… and in four hours we take a boat cruise, a bus tour, a dinner and ride on the London Eye. When Hitler was bombing London he wasn’t this organized.
The next day we leave for the ship. I pick up the morning paper… HEADLINE: DAVID FROST DIES ON CRUSIE SHIP. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear as headed for nine days at sea.
The limo driver is there at 11 as promised. I’m already making funeral plans. We drive the two hours to Dover and I get to see the White Cliffs of Dover…all the time I’m thinking a little 409 is needed here.
So far my planning has been impeccable. Everything has gone like clockwork. And then we present our tickets to the ship, the lady hands me something to read…I go for my glasses and they had crossed over into that fifth dimension. I’ve left them in the Limo. Now let me explain something to you…without my reading glasses Stevie Wonder has a better view of the world. I am completely blind. Mind you, I have brought a second pair of glasses because without my reading glasses Stevie Wonder has a better view of the world. I’m a dyslexic nightmare. So it’s not like I have been stranded without glasses before… but just the fact that I have lost them has given me something to use to completely ruin the rest of the trip. I try to comfort myself, “At least you’re not David Frost”.
DAY ONE: GUERNSEY
We take a walking tour of Guernsey led by Mary Poppins. The nicest, sweetest lady you’d ever meet who is stunningly handsome at about 75. One of the members of he group is late, let’s call her Helen Gurley Brown. However, two members of the group a husband and wife… let’s call them Donald Trump and Ivana… are not happy. “We are on time, why do we have to wait?” The woman whose expression has not changed since she arrived on the ship pipes in, “I’m not waiting.” And she takes off. OH. The expression…it’s like she’s constantly smelling shit.
We take the tour and Donald and Helen are suddenly getting chummy. He turns to Ivana and says, “She knows George and Laura.” To which Helen says, “History will show he was the greatest president this country has ever had.” My balls hit the pavement. I suddenly realize that I have discovered a nest of Republicans. Everywhere I look there are Republicans complaining. I start playing a game … FIND THE DEMOCRAT. “Oh look someone is smiling. Must be a Democrat?” There was one African American Family on the ship…the husband came up to me…”HOLD ME.MAN”.
I get through the day. Tomorrow is a day at sea. I wonder what it will hold. That night on the ship they play THE IMPOSSIBLE, the story of a family that goes on vacation and is hit by a Tsunami. THIS is the movie they play on the first night out… I go down to the lobby and a violin trio is playing… I SWEAR TO YOU… “Closer to God are Thee” the tune they played as the Titanic went down. As a comic I see the comedy in the situation as a passenger I want to run to my room and leave my life vest on…forever.
DAY TWO: AT SEA.
I’ve always wanted to see whales. I just didn’t think I’d see them in bathing suits. There should be a law… if the flap of skin on your back folds over and touches your hip, you cannot wear a thong.
The men are no better. I saw one guy walking down the hallway. He was so wide he was knocking paintings off the walls on both sides as he made his way to his cabin.
Oh and day two is the first night of Rosh Hashanah. The last time I was in Temple Eisenhower was in office but I thought it would be fun to be in France and celebrate the New Year in another country. The service is at five p.m…. I go down there at five. We have crossed a time line and clocks were set a hour ahead. It was actually six p.m. and I missed the service. Who would have ever guessed that I would be upset about missing a Jewish New Year service. There is a first for everything.
DAY THREE: BORDEAUX, FRANCE
So next morning I’m up at six a.m. and I’m ready to go to services. I walk into the room and one lady is sitting with a shawl. On the pulpit is a priest with vestments, behind him is a huge cross with Jesus. She says, “Come in… join us.” I say, “I haven’t been in Temple in about 40 years but I don’t think this is a Rosh Hashanah service.” The woman laughs so loud the priest stops spraying the incense.
Ok, so I come back in half an hour and there are the Jews… all ten of them. I have found them in this sea of WASP wonderland-ness. We get to talking and suddenly I realize I have found the rarest of rare… REPUBLICAN JEWS… a living oxymoron. It’s like it’s when I found out fish eat their young… I was horrified.
The service lasts exactly 12 minutes. Why? The Rabbi has to take a tour of the Bordeaux countryside. This is the Jewish Holiday I have wished for my entire life.
So we board our bus to the wine country. We have a French guide… a woman with a voice just short of grinding silverware down the garbage disposal. She spoke in such a thick accent no one could understand her and when we asked her to repeat whatever she said she got furious. “Vat is Wong wit you peoples” I thought I was going to have to stay after the tour in detention. Six of us started a support group for survivors of the tour which we are now calling the Death March on Bataan.
That night we went to the theater for the entertainment. Sit down… you’re gonna love this. REBECCA AND DONNOVAN. Picture Arnold Schwartnegger singing like Mario Lanza while his wife hung from silk ropes. That’s what this act was. I actually sat through twenty minutes of it until my ears began to bleed and I fled from the theater like The Von Trapp Family.
DAY FOUR: AT SEA
Tbey have provided us with many interesting things to do on this ship. Interesting if you live in assisted living and have a motorized wheelchair. One of my favorites activities is SCARF TYING. I kid you not… learn how to tie a scarf…followed by NAPKIN FOLDING. (Readers: this is not a joke.) These are actual classes. They also have courses you could use like how to shoot video on an ipad, how to play the piano, how to play bridge… each one of THOSE classes was anemically empty. But SCARF TYING was a slam-dunk. Standing room only! Then there was the lecture series… who do they have as a guest speaker…some show biz celebrity… some sports hero… a political figure? NO! Clint Van Zant… an FBI Serial Murderer Profiler. STANDING ROOM ONLY? They were seated on the floor. These Republicans like a good mass murder. I went to the lecture in which I learned one of the killers liked to shove stones up the vaginal cavity of his victims. (beat) FOR THIS I PAID FOURTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS INCLUDING AIR FARE???? I was once on a Princess Cruise and their entertainment was a “Hairiest man on the ship” contest… a Persian woman won.
Ok so tonight is formal night on the ship or as I call it, The Geriatric Prom. Tonight I will see things no man is supposed to see… moo moos and tuxedos… walkers and sequins… ladies wearing things only teenagers should wear… and all to stand in a buffet line and eat things pushed through a pastry tube. I truly do love this experience… it’s a comedy writer’s dream come true. One cruise on the Atlantic and I will be writing about it for the next six years.
DAY FIVE: Lisbon, Portugal
I’ve figured out what taking a cruise is all about… it’s a series of meals interrupted by Europe. My God, I have never eaten so much in my life. They are feeding us like we’re Foie Gras Geese. They just keep shoving food down our throats… my liver is the size of Connecticut. Any moment I expect the chef to cut it out and force-feed it back to me.
Lisbon, Portugal. Well, I can die happy now. I’ve seen the tomb of Vasco D’Gama. This is the highlight of Lisbon, that and protecting your wallets from pickpockets. I have never seen anything like it in my life, you’re standing alone waiting for the shuttle… suddenly, out of no where, 500 Gypsies surround you trying to sell you shawls. So the entire trip your holding your wallet, your camera, your keys, your passport, your gold incisor… anything you’re afraid they could get their hands on. OH! It appears Lisbon is the thimble capital of the world. Everywhere you go they are hocking thimbles… and coasters. Thimbles and coasters…coasters and thimbles… big ones, black ones, cork ones, blue ones, coasters with Lisbon on them, thimbles with Vasco D’ Gama on them… granite thimbles.( I guess they were from the stone age) It appears the Europeans think that all we Americans do is sew and cook.
There is one funny note in Lisbon. There appears to be a large contingent of Lesbians on the ship, packs of them dressed in tool belts and wearing Berkinstocks.. It would give me great joy to say over and over… We’re in Lisbon with the Lesbians…. Lisbon with the Lesbians… Lisbon with the Lesbians. Has a nice ring, no?
I must say I was disappointed in Lisbon. It’s dirty. It’s crowded. It’s covered in graffiti. It’s New York City with thimbles. I was picturing this quaint little village like it says in the brochure… lovely multi colored homes like a Disney movie. Instead I got the parking lot of an architectural salvage yard. The whole city is a big BEFORE photo. It’s a D.I.Y. project waiting to happen.
One interesting side note about tour guides. How do you get them to shut up? They get you on that bus and don’t stop talking until the ship is pulling away from the dock. They tell you dates and names and countries and kings and queens and all you want to know is, “Where is the toilet?” About twenty minutes into the tour her voice begins to sound like nails on a blackboard. Everything she says you take exception to. “Oh really… Portugal has wonderful weather… really?” You can’t wait to get off the bus and flee for your life but she’s behind you with a bull horn.” DON’T FORGET TO STOP IN THE TRINKET SHOP BEFORE YOU LEAVE.” “DIE BITCH… DIE… YOU TOUR GUIDE FROM HELL!!!”
By this day you have gotten to know your traveling companions and they seem to fall into three categories:
a. People you want be friends with.
b. People you want to be friends with but just can’t.
c. People you want to kill with the bottle opener provided in your room.
Under “a” comes people your own age, people with the same political views and anyone with all their original body parts. Under “b” comes anyone with equipment. This includes oxygen bottles, canes, walkers, electric wheel chairs and a leg made out from composite materials. Under “c” comes Republicans.
There are also sub categories. People with language barriers like Russians and people who stick to themselves, like Asians. These are all nice people but when “Isn’t Lisbon a dumpy city. ” takes 20 minutes, flash cards and a signal flare, a lasting friendship is out of the question.
On today’s trip I found two things. 1. Seville is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been in and 2. There are other Democrats on board. Today at lunch I sat with a lovely couple from Connecticut. Out of the blue she turns to me and says “Did you ever see a bigger bunch of assholes in your life. Republicans…all of them” I heard angels sing. From that moment on the trip took on a new air. She told us of other Democrats on board. I suddenly knew what the French underground felt like during World War II. We had secret handshakes and secret meeting places. “We’re under the stairs in the main ball room” IT’S A WHOLE NEW TRIP!!!!
DAY SEVEN: AT SEA
Last night we were supposed to see The Rock of Gibraltar… we passed it at midnight so that’s one thing that won’t be crossed off my bucket list.
DAY EIGHT: BARCEL…. Ohhhhhhhh who gives a shit!
I have seen more churches than the Pope. I am so touristed out I can’t begin to tell you. I’ve seen parks. I’ve seen monuments. I’ve seen the birthplace of people I never knew existed. This isn’t a vacation it’s credits for my Masters.
The good news is I have finally found the fun people. All four of them. They are under 70, they are Democrats, they laugh… I’ve got four new friends. Worth the whole trip.
DAY NINE; TO THE AIRPORT.
My pick up is at ten… at ten thirty he still is not there. I have prepaid for this ride and suddenly the cruise ship who did everything but wipe my ass has thrown me to the wind. “Oh, you didn’t buy OUR transportation… pity.” So I grab a taxi to the airport with tip and with the money I have already paid to the other limo company this trip has cost me 16 thousand dollars. I could have flown around the world twice for what this cab ride has cost me. And here’s the bottom line. I DON’T CARE. I have had one of the best times I have ever had in my life. I came home with nothing. No key chains, no iPhones covers from Spain. No, snowballs with cathedrals in them. All I have is my memories… 486 photos and four new friends. Hey! Could have been a lot worse… and I didn’t even tell you about the Israeli on the plane home who kept pushing my seat forward because I was “Invading his space.” I wanted to club him with my thimble collection.
Steve Bluestein is the author of: “IT’S SO HARD TO TYPE WITH A GUN IN MY MOUTH” available on Amazon, Kindle, and now an audio book.