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Destination Nowhere
By Jason Kordelos

I always fantasized about going on an exotic sea cruise to Puerto Rico or San Tropez or the Greek Islands. A gorgeous ship filled with gorgeous people drinking gorgeous champagne, and me, in the middle of it all, being adored and caressed by salt water-scented sunshine.

This, however, was not that cruise.

On September 11th my best friend Marian lost her firefighter husband, Dave Fontana. When I learned that Dave had gone to the World Trade Center I ran fifteen blocks from my place to Marian's in a frantically thrown together outfit that I feared would be my last (the United States was under attack, after all). The result: sweats, winter coat, running shoes and ski hat. It was nearly 80 degrees that day. In my trembling, sweaty hands I clutched my cell phone, my ATM card and my worn Reach toothbrush.

From Marian's tiny brownstone apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, we watched the television as the second tower buckled and collapsed, crushing beneath it her high school sweetheart, and the future she'd been building with him. Like so many others, Marian was left alone to raise a young child, a five-year-old dynamo named by his Irish firefighter dad -- Aidan. The Gallic translation: "Little Fire."

Oh, yes, and the day, September 11th, also happened to be Marian and Dave's eighth wedding anniversary.

A week later I quit my job, a hideous waiter position that was supposed to support my acting career, but had only succeeded in supporting my hatred for all people who dine out. I decided to take care of Marian and Aidan. She said it was unnecessary. I said, "It's what anyone would do." She said no, it wasn't. I said, "Well, then, it's what Susan Sarandon would do." She laughed and it was agreed.

What I didn't tell Marian was what her hippie neighbor Dorothy said to me on September 12th. When she dropped off a pot of squash and lavender soup, she recognized my name. "Jason," she said, "you know just last month Dave told me the darndest thing. He said he felt good knowing that if anything bad happened to him, that you would be there for Marian." And in a whirl of patchouli oil and hand-dyed chenille scarves she was gone, leaving me stunned that, among other things, anyone still used the word "darndest."

While once just Marian's "Gay Best Friend," now she spoke about me to all the people in her life -- to the firefighters, the widows and the cousins -- as her new "Gay Husband." "Like Liza and David Gest," I'd say. And despite the tragic circumstances, our makeshift family worked. I felt a satisfaction in caring for Marian and Aidan like I had never experienced. Sure there's the revival of Oklahoma! and Barney's Warehouse Sale, but neither one of those ever hugged me at the end of story time.

And then came this cruise. Immediately after the 11th, donations of every kind poured into Marian's life: money, poems, food, letters, prayers and trips all over the world. When Royal Caribbean generously offered a private cruise to all the 343 firefighter families who lost loved ones, Marian asked me if I was interested in going with her and Aidan. As the Gay Husband, I envisioned a kind of gay family vacation -- sort of Will and Grace meets Love Boat meets Six Feet Under. I declared, "Absolutely!" I even agreed to make all the arrangements.

The next day, I called Royal Caribbean and spoke to a surly woman, a Ms. Shapiro. By the sound of her voice, I was confident she had chain-smoked menthol 100's since Kindergarten.

"Where's the ship going?" I asked.

"Nowhere," she said, hacking.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean nowhere," she hacked again.

"Well, it must go to Puerto Rico or Acapulco or somewhere."

"No," she said, "it goes nowhere."

"What, does the ship just stay in port?"

"No it goes out to sea," she said, then hacked once more.

"Where?" I asked.


This woman sounded as if she was reciting lines from an Ionesco play, poorly and with stage four lung cancer.

"I'm sorry," I said, "I'm just not getting this -- the ship has got to have a destination."

"Well, yeah," she answered, "it leaves New York harbor, it floats out to sea and then it floats back. Two nights. We're calling it a 'Cruise To Nowhere'."

I paused and waited for Rod Sterling to begin his voiceover. She hacked. "So let me get this right," I continued, "you're sending a ship full of widows and their grief-stricken, terrorized families onto something called a 'Cruise To Nowhere'?!"


Wonderful. I should have known then that this cruise had the potential to sink me.

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