In the Mood
by Jerry Guarino
Annie and her husband Jeff
were holding hands and looking at the boats in
the marina. Ive never been on a
sailboat before, said Annie.
Jeff smiled. Its not like the big
tourist boats. Its quiet and peaceful.
Now in their late 50s, the local couple came to
San Francisco for a relaxing day trip on the
holiday weekend. Ninety minutes around the San
Francisco Bay and a romantic lunch was just what
Jeff had planned to get Annie into the mood.
Thousands of tourists from all over the world
gathered at Pier 39, Fishermans Wharf and
Ghirardelli Square, making this multi-cultural
city even more diverse.
The director of the sailing tour, in her blue
polo shirt, white shorts and topsiders, smiled
and spoke to the passengers. Everyone going
on the 12:30 sailing cruise gather around me and
listen please. Were going to walk down to
dock F, then Ill be handing out drink
Annie and Jeff could smell the salty air
combining with the seafood odors from the
adjacent restaurants. Im glad were
going to sail before lunch. I dont want to
get sea sick.
Jeff reassured his wife. Just a little slow
rolling from side to side, nothing that would
upset your tummy.
Many of the thirty passengers were on the heavy
side, massive men and their wives, even some
overweight children. Looking at the others from
the back of the line, Jeff, who was 225 pounds,
actually felt thin. He winked at Annie. Maybe
a little more gentle rolling than I thought.
This made the process of getting on the boat a
little awkward. Just hold onto the lines
and walk around to fill in all the spaces,
said the captain, a sea worn man with a scruffy
beard and white cap on his head. After everyone
had settled on the deck of the boat, one more
family rushed on. You could hear screams from a
baby on the floating dock.
Oh please let them be on a different boat,
Not so. Unlike the others, this family was thin
and overdressed, like some newcomers to America.
Two parents, three other adults, a little girl
and a boy toddler, no more than two years old
walked onboard and sat in the only remaining
spaces, next to Jeff. He leaned over and
whispered to his wife. Well, I guess well
have to bunch up here. Jeff moved to give
the family more room. He squeezed himself behind
Annie, between two metal lines, the main sail
boom and straddled his legs around a winch. He
looked like some criminal Spiderman caught in his
The toddlers screams increased in volume.
Jeff, Annie and the other passengers watched the
family without staring. Annie stated the obvious.
The little boy doesnt want to be here.
His parents will calm him down or get off before
we leave, dont you think?
Not so. The boy screamed louder and louder,
drowning out the captain as he was giving safety
instructions. Instead of leaving the boat, the
parents just held the child and spoke quietly to
him. The other passengers were getting annoyed
now. Really? said the twenty
something woman to her boyfriend shaking his head.
The sailboat pulled out of the harbor and into
the open bay toward Alcatraz Island. It was too
late to get off now.
The first mate took the drink orders and served
everyone. In addition to soda, there was
champagne and beer. This didnt alter the
mood of the passengers; in fact, it may have
increased the tension. The thin family ordered
regular soda and gave some to the crying boy,
thinking it would calm him down. Not so. Annie
nudged Jeff and said Jeff, I cant
believe theyre giving him soda. Jeff
shook his head. This romantic cruise was going
An hour later, you could see the frustration on
everyone, except the boys parents of course,
still clueless and talking to the toddler.
Everyone felt helpless. Jeff looked at the other
passengers wondering what they were thinking.
Why dont they give the boy a
Dont they know how to quiet an unruly
Why didnt they just stay and ask for
Maybe theyll fall over the side.
Jeff caught himself
imagining the toddler going over the side of the
Annie tugged at Jeffs
sleeve. What are you thinking dear?
Coming out of his thoughts, Jeff replied. You
know, hes probably a Silicon Valley
engineer making $150,000 a year. You would think
basic child care would be easy.
Annie tried to maintain a positive attitude.
Well, were over halfway through the
cruise. Maybe the child will cry himself out.
Not so. It was ninety minutes of crying,
screaming and very little parenting. By the time
the sailboat returned to port, more than a few
passengers were giving the family dirty looks.
Annie and Jeff made their way to the nearest
restaurant, a little pricey, but they needed to
change the mood quickly. I know this is
expensive honey, but you were so patient on that
boat said Jeff. Annie calmed Jeff down,
while looking at the menu posted outside. Umm!
A nice seafood salad would be perfect. Youll
feel better too. They remembered the great
Louie salads they had the last time they were in
town, so they went inside.
Jeff tried to regain his sense of control. Two
glasses of chardonnay, the crab cakes appetizer
and two Louie salads, one with shrimp and one
with crab. His plans could be salvaged with
a romantic lunch on the bay. But when the food
arrived, he was disappointed again.
Two tiny crab cakes, not much bigger than a
silver dollar, providing no more than a couple of
bites. The Louie salads were mostly pale iceberg
lettuce, with one mini slice of tomato, two
olives and a small wedge of artichoke. No greens,
no hard-boiled egg and just a sprinkling of
shrimp and crab to boot. Annie pursed her lips.
Jeff was angry now. No, its not.
Annie stroked his arm. Lets just
finish our meal and get home. I dont want
to get into a thing here with the waiter. At
least we have a nice view. Jeff grumbled
but had to agree. The Golden Gate Bridge, marina
and bay water was a beautiful sight.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jeff saw the
hostess bringing over another party. It was the
clueless family from the cruise. Oh no
Annie said under her breath, her eyes opening
wide. The hostess sat the family behind Jeff and
Annie. Then it happened again. The two year old
Jeff did a slow burn turn around and stared at
the child. Unbelievable. Annie shook
her head. There are hundreds of restaurants
and they came here. Next to our table!
The waiter brought the check. $84.78! That was
the final insult. Jeff paid the bill and they
walked out of the restaurant. As they were
leaving, they noticed the child had stopped
crying. A diner next to them had provided a
pacifier and thats all he needed.
Squeezing past the crowd, Jeff knew all his plans
for a romantic date were in vain. Im
sorry Annie. I wanted this day to be romantic for
us. Instead its been a disaster.
Annie pulled Jeffs face near hers and
whispered in his ear. Not so. then
she winked, took his hand and they went home.