Rockin’ with the Barenaked Ladies on the high seas—it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
I’m not a cruise person. Confined space and germ sharing unnerve me, but when I got an e-mail notification that the Barenaked Ladies would be hosting their own fan cruise, I didn’t think twice. I made up my mind to put my own weirdnesses aside for the greater good—the love of the Ladies (the stout, male, Canadian, singing kind of Ladies).
You see, I’m not merely a fan of BNL (the moniker used by true fans); I’m a wake-up-every-morning-to-a-“Pinch-Me”-ring-tone kind of fan. So the idea of not going on the cruise never occurred to me.
I’m lucky I’m not alone in my obsession. My best friend, Penny Kucherer, is likewise a send-a-picture-of-herself-with-the-drummer-Tyler-in-her-Christmas-card-saying-“Merry Christmas from Penny and Tyler” kind of fan. Together we’ve seen BNL 10 times in three different states.
Sixthman, the company chartering the Carnival ship Legend for Ships and Dip (the title of the BNL cruise), provides online message boards to post necessary and unnecessary communications before and after the cruise. Madness overtook me when I discovered them. I spent every free moment of my time on the boards: Which Ladie do you love the most? What are you wearing? What do you need to bring? Will you have sex with a stranger?
There was a women’s thread where we discussed our dresses, our periods, good sun block and guys. There was a men’s thread where they tried to talk about hockey and football but found it tough when the women kept butting in. It was an amazing preparation for the adventure ahead.
So, armed with a whole new batch of online BNL friends, Penny and I got in line at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale to board our dream cruise. Three thousand other harried passengers, metal detectors, lines for cabin keys and boarding queues couldn’t flag our enthusiasm. \
Three hours later we saw the end of the line. One last girl-behind-a-counter said to us, “You haven’t just been waiting for your concert wristbands, ya know? The Barenaked Ladies are posing for boarding photographs with every single party.”
Penny and I whooped. As if we were both Leisl in “The Sound of Music,”we shared a mutual “WHEEEE!”
When our time came, I palmed the $10 bill I just happened to have in my pocket and passed it in a handshake to lead singer and guitarist Ed Robertson, saying, “Hey, you guys are doing a really great job here. Keep up the good work.” It was just how Grandpa taught me in Vegas. Ed looked at it and started laughing and shaking his head. After the photo, I bolted down the gangplank, squealing with my arms in the air as if I had just won “The Price is Right.”
Once on the boat, at the end of the mandatory lifeboat drill, the captain announced that the Barenaked Ladies would immediately be performing on the Lido deck during the launch of the ship. The orange life-jacketed mass broke for the doors. It was a contest to see who could dump their jackets and get to the Lido stage first.
As they tuned their instruments, the band bantered with each other and the audience. “Wow! It’s amazing, like, I recognize every single last one of you from the 1,500 photographs we just took with you,” drummer Tyler Stewart sounded off to the crowd.
As they eased into their first song, “The Old Apartment,” Ed shouted to his lifeboat drill companions, “This goes out to muster station C.” The air crackled with the shared passion of a boatload of strangers.
Penny and I knew then that our guys would not just be on board and playing music for us, but they would be accessible. I can only imagine what a relief that must have been to the other mega-fans on board who were expecting to have to stalk the band in order to realize their fantasy meetings. (Continued on page 2.)