Cruise ship fare can range from exemplary to the purely lavatorial, as was witnessed at tonight’s meal. Chicken fajitas are predictably good fair — hard to ruin a plate full of chicken’s body parts on a tortilla. So, it’s not the fajitas which nearly triggered a palsy of emesis, but the Romanian waiter who, to his credit, provided impeccable European service.

It was along these lines that going nose extra steps to please the customer goes from irritation to agitation. In his cultivated culinary descriptions of the fine art of beef Wellington, he explained with extraordinary specificity in a language I can only call globaldygook — that globalized version of American English in which pronunciation and syntax were abandoned long ago. He was commenting on how the ship saved money by not using authentic goose pate in the beef Wellington. Instead, they use pork pate knowing the customer won’t know the difference.

While listening to the volumes of pig livers ground up and spread over moo cow, I could feel serious tummy rumbles below. I thought about the endless hog farms swarming the state of North Carolina and the volumes of poop lagoons that sour the landscape and so toxicly befoul nature. I thought about these poor beasts being force-fed laboratory treats from the Monsanto Corporation in order to fatten their livers and produce gargantuan cutlets. Hogs never allowed to roam free or even unfree, for roaming period is forbidden and quite impossible. This porcine pestilence stands its entire life in a shallow lake of urine which scalds their ankles and erodes the gelatin in their hooves.

So, it was at about this point that the waiter brought me a plate of pig liver pate as a thoughtful courtesy so that I could appreciate the lofty gift the chef had been perpetrating on the septuagenarian diners. Horrified and aghast at this gray scabrous clot which steamed before me, I didn’t know what to do. It had the texture and visual similarity to either a bland cat food or microwaved Spam. Because he stood over my shoulder, and his intent was clearly honorable, I was forced to sample the pile giving the impression of enjoyment and gratitude. I’m certainly not vegan, but prefer a more vegetarian tilt than otherwise. This cluster of pulverized organs was beyond the zone of tolerability, but again, the intent of the waiter was honorable.

In keeping with the dignified moment, it was not I who upheaved, but the lady at the next table who’d been observing the entire exchange for some 20 minutes and had just finished a 16 ounce rare steak. The sound of the human body purging half digested meats coupled with flailing arms, humiliation and loss of control, and equally freaking out neighboring tables was a dinnertime highlight amidst the rough seas. The rocking of the ship was the perfect straw to hammer into the camel’s back and create a level of entertainment that no linen tablecloth could deny.

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