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Sight-Seeing in the World of Love
Waves lapped at the side of the boat. Scott Geraldson leaned against the railing and gazed off into the ocean. A cluster of whales tossed and turned in the water to the delight of the many tourists on deck, snapping away photos with their expensive camera phones. The apathetic group of teenagers that he was allegedly in charge of also had their phones out, yet they were largely oblivious to the aquatic activity.
He sighed. Such a beautiful illustration of nature’s wonders was right in front of them and half these kids were glued to their little screens, texting their lives away: "like wut r we even doing on a smelly boat? LOL." He never regretted his decision to become an English teacher, but sometimes he didn’t know why he bothered.
On the other side of the ship, Beth LaFleur, the other chaperone from Little Brook High, was overseeing a different kind of feeding frenzy at the snack bar. Coins were jangled, crumpled dollar bills were excavated deep from within jean pockets, and prices were scrutinized. These kids were being treated to a whale watch on a timeworn cruise boat off the coast of historic Cape Cod and yet the main attraction was a greasy countertop where cheese fries for available for $3.95.
But Beth didn’t care. She saw past her students’ lazy exteriors into the hopeful young souls yearning for knowledge. The passion was there; it was her job as their English teacher to spark it, to push the boundaries of conventional teaching in pursuit of getting students excited about learning. A vibrant and whimsical woman, Beth knew what she wanted out of life and felt that it was her right to attain it: interested students, a successful career in the education field, and more recently, a trip to Rome with her sweetheart.
Once every student was seated comfortably in the mini-theater of the cruise ship, enjoying snack bar munchies and a documentary called Wuvable Whales: Nature’s Gentlest Giants, Beth stepped onto the spacious deck. Scott was waiting for her by the railing. She approached him and threw her arms around his neck.
“Oh Scott! Let’s go to Rome! It’s what I’ve always wanted and you’re the only person in the world I want to go with!” she cried.
“Sounds great! When shall we go? How about a month from next Tuesday?” said Scott, checking the calendar on his phone. Scott was all about agenda.
Seized by this new, wildly irrational desire, Beth plunged ahead. “No! Let’s go… tomorrow! Don’t you see? The time is ripe! Rome is calling, and here we are on this boring, inhibiting boat trip. We need to pack up and go tomorrow. CARPE DIEM!”
Scott scratched his thinning-hair-covered head. “But tomorrow we’re supposed to supervise the bus trip home. We’re chaperones, Beth! We can’t just pack up and leave.”
Equal parts emotional and irrational, Beth grew frantic. “Love is all about living in the moment. If you really cared about me, you’d throw caution to the winds and whisk me away to Rome this instant! You’re always so organized and careful, Scott. You have so many inhibitions that you can’t even do romance. AND YOU CAN’T SPELL ROMANCE WITHOUT ROME!”
With that, she flipped her curly hair over her shoulder and strode powerfully away in her sassy, stylish heels. Scott hadn’t been this devastated since he was eight years old and his father told him to stop wearing that silly fedora hat everywhere because Jay Gatsby wasn’t a real person and they would never actually meet. Oh, the tears he had shed that day.
But today was another matter altogether. Scott’s relationship with Beth was the best thing in his life since his cat Fitzy died, and he didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize it. He loved every little quirk and idiosyncrasy about Beth: her brilliant smile, the way she bought books by the dozen, her wild passion for life, literature, and love. He thought they made a great pair; they were the “it” couple of Little Brook High’s English Department and even some of the students speculated and gossiped about their pseudo-secret affair. She was a lovely woman, and if she wanted to go to Rome, irrelevant and impulsive as it may seem, then who was he to refuse her? He’d give her the world if he could.
Scott stared off into the choppy waters and contemplated all of this. He wondered whether whales mated for life. He remembered the time when Beth brought him chicken soup and The Great Gatsby on DVD when he had the flu. He acknowledged that he eventually wanted to move out of his mother’s basement. But overall, he realized that he loved Beth. Scott stood up straight and tall. He had come to a decision.
On the other side of the boat, Beth was sobbing quietly into a handkerchief, taking solace in the fact that her smeared mascara would give her a glamorous movie-heroine look, rather than the dead-raccoon look that would emerge in most women’s faces. She was just thinking about calling her sister to rant about the situation when – SPLASH!
Panic exploded in Beth’s head. She raced back to Scott’s side of the boat just in time to see him re-surface in the foamy blue-green water, paddling to stay afloat like a manic Labradoodle among whales.
“Scott! What are you doing?” shrieked Beth.
“I love you, Beth LaFleur! And to prove it, I’m swimming to Italy!” shouted Scott.
“That doesn’t make any sense!”
“Neither does love!”
“You’ll die of exhaustion!”
“I’d rather that than die of a broken heart!”
“Oh Scott!” cried Beth. “I’ve been a fool! I don’t need fancy gifts or a trip to Rome. I just need you! Please come back to me!”
By this point, the semi-inebriated boat attendants, two Italian brothers named Bruno and Giovanni, finally noticed the commotion and took action. Bruno rushed to the railing and tossed down a large red-and-white plastic donut tied to a sturdy length of rope. Giovanni called down to Scott, “Hey! You okay, buddy? Whatju think you’re doin’? Grabba holda this life pre-zerver!”
Scott flailingly swam over and clutched the plastic ring with strong arms. On the deck, a crowd had assembled, comprised of the various tourists and Little Brook High students who had just gotten out of the documentary presentation. Most students had their cell phones out, but instead of the usual texting nonsense, they were either recording or snapping photos of the dramatic scene. The air buzzed with the electric energy of anticipation. Everyone waited with bated breath.
Giovanni and Bruno, with much grunting, managed to pull Scott up and helped him over the railing. The crowd cheered as Scott and Beth embraced.
“Next year,” said Scott, gazing at Beth’s beaming face, “we’ll take the kids of Little Brook High to Rome.”