Despite our cruise ship woes, we met some interesting people. I know, I know, "interesting" is a nothing kind of word. Blah. Useless. But in this instance, it fits. The couple from Mississippi who drove to Florida to catch the cruise, regaled us about eating the worst fried chicken in the world in a town in Wisconsin billing itself as the friend chicken capital of the world was hilarious. We chatted with librarians and needlepointers, a Russian violinist to whom we taught the world "olive," and generally nice folks.
One lady took the proverbial cake. Eighty-eight years old, she lives on the cruise ship year round, and has for the past 17 years. She knows all the crew by name, and they know her. Rolling her walker from dining room to hallway, she appeared to enjoy her life as an honorary "dam" member of the crew. Front row center for every entertainment, she wasn't shy about joining in.
Yet I had to wonder if she is ever lonely. People she grows to know on board of the passenger variety disembark after a week or two. The crew shifts must happen on a timely basis. She's not too spry, though she's moving under her own steam. She doesn't go ashore with any of the staff. I found myself fascinated with "what if" questions, the sort that lead to a story.
Can I metamorphize her into a sleuth? Ah, the ultimate "locked door" mystery solver, one with a red sequin rose in her hair, no less. Or is she a matchmaker for the younger staff, finding them partners who are on board for only a few months or weeks at a time? Will she match up the charming Russian violinist with the Tai Chi instructor from Portugal?
Or should I leave her alone? I haven't yet decided. . . . and I'm certainly not about to write anything insulting or inappropriate if she becomes my detective. My question is: would it be unkind or immoral to base a character, loosely, on this lovely woman's choice of an unorthodox life for one of her advanced years?
What do you think?