Tuesday, February 17, 2009


       It’s official…I’m bald. This may not surprise anyone because I typically buzz my hair, but this time around, it pales in comparison. It’s like down to the bone. I look like Jay Buhner. Mom –this may be a “careful what you wish for”moment. When I was much younger and I went to get my hair cut at Hedman’s by a guy named Gary, he would, like many barbers, ask, “So what are we doing with it today?”My mother, thinking she was hilarious, would jokingly, yet somewhat seriously, tell Gary to buzz it. And at this point in my life, I hated the mere thought of it; it scared me. Why? Couldn’t tell ya, but it did. So I would sit in the chair and scream “Noooooo!!!”and she would just laugh. Well, the tables have turned, and I took your wish just one step further. Remember, careful what you wish for. Love you! ;)

      We celebrated Neptune Day, a maritime tradition that occurs when a ship crosses the Equator for the first time, which officially happened for us on February 10th at 3:25pm. Everyone knew about it from previous voyages, so there was much anticipation. What happens is sort of like what happens when pledges get initiated into a fraternity. When you’re on a ship, the story goes that King Neptune rules the sea, and we as “pollywogs”(the name given to those who have not performed the ritual) must go through a series of rituals and ceremonies in order to prove to King Neptune that we are worthy of passing through his realm of Equatorius and into the Southern Hemisphere. When we complete the ritual, we then become “shellbacks”.

      The day started when we were woken up early in the morning by a band of staff members dressed up in aquatic gear parading through the halls banging on drums. Everyone gathered around the pool on deck 7 where we were introduced (to the tune of that Alan Parson’s Project song “Sirius”) to King Neptune, embodied by our captain, Captain Jeremy. He was painted green from head to toe, had waist-length, white hair, wore a white, grass skirt, had a big, gold crown on his head, and held a trident in his hand. Additionally, we were introduced to his queen and his royal court. To start the ritual, each person who partook stood on the deck as they poured a smelly, gross, turquoise concoction on our heads. Then we had to kiss a fish and kiss King Neptune’s ring. After kissing those, we jumped in the pool and then once we climbed out, we kissed another fish, and finally got our heads shaved, which was optional. When people were shaving their heads on deck 7, it took a really long time because they only had one good pair of clippers. My friend, Carl, went down to his room to get his clippers and I ended shaving his head and two other friends’heads, Barney and Ian. Then everyone who was waiting in the big line assumed that I was shaving heads so they all started coming up to me and asking me if I would shave their heads. I felt bad saying no, so at the end of it all, I probably shaved 10 heads and touched up 4 or 5 more. It was actually a lot of fun. Probably a little less than half of the guys shaved their heads and maybe about 10 girls did it too. There were also a few girls who cut it really short but didn’t end up shaving it. A few days later, they took a picture of everyone in the Union who shaved their heads and let me tell you, 84 bald heads in a room together is not attractive.

      Back in the day, Neptune Day was a lot worse, or more fun, depending on how you look at it. They use to set up a tunnel across the entire length of the deck and pollywogs would have to crawl through it. But what the staff did is they collected the ship’s garbage for the whole week leading up to Neptune Day, and they dumped it on the pollywogs as they went through the tunnel. Then when the pollywogs got out, they were doused in chocolate sauce, doused in real fish guts, they had to kiss the fish, kiss the ring, jump in the pool, and then get their heads shaved. It was definitely more intense back in the day.

      All in all, Neptune Day was a lot of fun. We didn’t have classes and there was music playing on deck 7 and people were dancing and singing along. It was very festive and entertaining. Contrary to common belief, there is no line in the middle of the ocean to mark the Equator. There is also no sign, nor do you feel a bump, nor do you instantly notice the toilets flush the other way. Just thought I’d clear up some misconceptions. The update on Namibia is coming soon.

“The one who throws the stone forgets; the one who is hit remembers forever”–Angolan proverb

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