A LITTLE ROCKING,
NOT ENOUGH ROLLING

     As part of our South American adventure, we planned a three-night cruise around Cape Horn, which is pretty much the end of the world. Actually, Antartica is farther south, but it gets no respect.
     Anyway, before we boarded the boat with 95 other passengers, my wife handed me a Dramamine patch, which you stick behind your ear to prevent seasickness.
     "Iím not wearing no stinkiní patch," I declared. "Iím a seasoned sailor who has spent many days on the open ocean. Drugs are for weenies."
     "You get sick watching a video game," she replied. "Put the patch on."
     Itís true I have a little trouble with my equilibrium sometimes. But this trip was mostly through small channels framed by the majestic mountains of Patagonia. The rough Cape Horn segment was only a small part. I wanted to enjoy it naturally, with no artificial aids Ďthat may cause drowsiness.í
     She delicately unwrapped the patch and stuck it behind her ear. I had a quick vision of me bent over the toilet and my wife laughing outside the door. Going natural wasnít worth the risk. Reluctantly, I put a patch behind my ear, too.
     "Itís the smart thing to do," she assured me. "Everybody will have one."
     As the boat left the dock and we sat down to dinner with a couple from England, a couple from Australia, and a couple from Germany, I opened the conversation by asking who was taking drugs.
     I meant seasickness drugs, I quickly explained. And the answer was not one of them. I snuck quick peeks behind their ears, but I saw no patches. We were the only ones. We were weenies. How embarrassing.
     There was only one way to save face. Everyone else needed to get seasick. Our countryís pride depended on it.
     Unfortunately, the first few hours of the cruise were through narrow channels, and we might as well have been on the Queen Mary going down the Mississippi River. The patch was feeling pretty stupid.
     But Cape Horn loomed in the morning. This was my big chance. I woke up at about 4:30 a.m., and sure enough, we were rocking. I felt just fine, and I happily pictured all our dinner companions feeling the first bouts of queasiness. How they would envy our brilliance!
     I happily skipped up to breakfast, expecting to see some pretty sour faces, if I saw them at all. But there they were, feeling just fine. It wasnít right. But we still werenít all the way to Cape Horn. There was still time.
     There have been 800 shipwrecks at Cape Horn. The winds and waves are legendary. Our little ship would surely be tossed around like a bathtub toy, causing everyone except my wife and myself to feel absolutely miserable.
     So I was a bit surprised when the ship anchored just off the tip and we took Zodiacs to shore and climbed up to the lighthouse. I guess we caught it on a good day. Not only were we not going to be shipwreck #801, but no one was going to get seasick, either. Kind of a good news, bad news thing.
     But there was still hope. They say there can be four seasons every couple of hours in Patagonia, and theyíre right. As we headed back into the fjords, the weather took a turn for the worse. We were rocking worse than ever.
    Still, everyone showed up for lunch. My wife and I asked how everyone was feeling, and got nothing but positive responses. All they wanted to talk about was their experience on Cape Horn. I wanted to hear about how they wished they had some Dramamine.
     After lunch, I considered randomly knocking on stateroom doors to see how people were feeling, but my wife wouldnít let me. But time was running out, and our countryís pride was at stake.
     At dinner that night, it was calm again. Everyone was there, and feeling fine. I was getting desperate. When our dinner companions looked at me, I tried inauspiciously swaying from side to side, seeing if that would help make them feel just a tad queasy. But nothing seemed to work. Our patches were looking pretty stupid.
     That night, however, we hit some more bad weather. While I happily fingered my patch, feeling just fine, I realized this was our last chance to legitimize our weenieness.
     Miraculously, my prayers were answered. The English couple didnít show up for breakfast.
      Too bad they didnít have some of our American ingenuity.
 

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