Friday, March 27, 2015

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 195

A brief introduction:
My name is Paul Howley, owner of the Eisner Award winning pop culture collector’s store known as “That’s Entertainment” in Worcester, Massachusetts and a second store in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Some people have called me the “luckiest man in the comic book business.” (I’m not) My stores have been around for over thirty years and it’s been a long and interesting combination of events and people that have brought these stores to this current place. It is not my intent to boast or brag about my store or my life. I just want to tell you my story. In many instances, my wife remembers things a little differently, but this is the truth as I remember it.

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 48
Mal Howley: age 48
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 17

   After our entire group of Cassandra’s senior classmates and the chaperones boarded the cruise ship, we all met upstairs on the Lido deck to eat at the lunch buffet. We organized a meeting in my stateroom for everyone to get together to go over the “rules” of conduct.

   When we originally booked the cabins for our daughter’s senior class trip cruise, we knew that we needed to keep the expenses low so that all of the students could afford to go on the trip. We booked the most inexpensive cabins available; inside cabins on a lower deck of the ship. Mal and I paid for our own accommodations and we booked a very large suite so that we’d have space to have meetings of the whole class in our room. Once everyone was clear on what was expected of the students as far as behavior goes, we all headed out in small groups to explore the huge ship.
   While we knew the students quite well and we knew they were mostly decent, responsible young-adults, we didn’t want the close proximity of alcohol and casino gambling to be too tempting for any of them. One of the rules for the trip was that students must stay together in groups of at least three students. That way, they’d be accountable for each other’s behavior. When our group was on-shore there would always be an adult chaperone with the students, but while on-board the ship, the students could be together without supervision. This worked out nicely. We did, however, need to speak with two of the boys regarding their interest in flirting with some of the non-classmates on the ship.

   As a group, with input from the students and the chaperones, we agreed that all of the students needed to be in their staterooms by 1:00AM. Activities on cruiseships usually end around 3:00AM but we wanted everyone to be rested and eager to start each day. We had quite a lot planned for them.

   On the first night, we all met up in the assigned dining room for dinner where we had several large tables reserved for our group. We decided that we would mix things up by switching the seating each night so that the students would get to spend time with other classmates over the course of the cruise. There are hundreds of choices of food items on cruises and we encouraged the group to experiment by trying foods they’ve never had the chance to try before. Lobster, escargot, filet mignon, duck, vichyssoise, gazpacho, New Zealand spring lamb, sushi, and more. There were also lots of great-tasting deserts including cherries jubilee, baked Alaska, crème brulee, and the most popular desert of all…warm chocolate melting cake! (Did I mention the warm chocolate melting cake?)

   Dinner on a cruise ship can be a long process. If you eat in the main dining room your dinner will consist of several courses. There are appetizers and salads. There are a variety of soups. Then comes the entrée, followed by desserts. (Did I tell you about the warm chocolate melting cake?) It’s not unusual for the entire dinner to take an hour and a half. Of course, there are several other quick service locations around the ship to get other foods if you don’t want to spend a long time in the dining room. But, the purpose of this senior class trip was for the students to get to spend time together as a group, so we opted for dinner in the dining room each night.

   After dinner our exploration of the huge ship continued and at 9:00 PM until one of the chaperones announced that he was going to bed. He was accustomed to getting up very early each morning but he usually went to sleep early at night.

   Um…no. Sorry, I know we’re all tired from a very long day of travel but we all need to do our job as chaperones to ensure the safety of the students. As exhausted as he was, he persevered and was a great help for the rest of the trip.

   Anyway, since this isn’t meant to just be a detailed description of the entire cruise, suffice it to say, we had lots of fun together. Over the next few days we rented motor scooters, toured Key West, snorkeled in Cozumel, Mexico, did some shopping, saw some shows, and relaxed at a warm beach. Through it all, the students were respectful, grateful, and well-behaved. Well…almost all of them.

Next chapter: Consequential thinking.