Today I'm giving props to my friends the Neon Thrills. Their debut album, "Sweet Cactus," came out last summer and it's fun. Powerpop style, and you can dance to it. I'd like to point out that this is the first ever album cover on which my bosom appears. The first of many, I hope. Rockstars? Let me be your Tawny Kitaen. Please.
However, today's post is only marginally about the Neon Thrills. It's mostly about the Neon Thrills' album release party, which took place this past July on a floating behemoth of fear (aka a "boat"). On the subway this morning, I read this article about all these new treatments for phobias, and apparently the best way to conquer one's fears is to face said fears. And reading this article made me remember my attempt to conquer my boatphobia by going to the afore-mentioned Booze Cruise record release party on the floating behemoth of fear. (SPOILER ALERT: i'm still scared of boats).
Since my best friend Mandy has been going out with Mark, the Neon Thrills' singer/bassist for a gazillion years (and because my breasts are on the album cover), I figured I had to go to the party. And, of course, I wanted to support the band and see some other friends who have less boat-issues than I do. So after work that day, I hoofed it across town to the East River piers. I was wearing super high spiky shoes and I gingerly inched out across the dock. I don't like ANYTHING that floats, even when it's connected to the Earth -- you never know when a tidal wave is going to hit -- and I was already unhappy just by standing on the dock.
So I finally made it to where the Booze Cruise boat was moored and I stood there staring at it. First of all, there were already people on the boat. A LOT of people. And the boat was rocking from side to side. And the people standing on the upper deck were whooping it up and drinking and smoking and they all looked like disgusting fratastic boys, the type of boys who were mean to me in high school because I was a goody two-shoes hippie.
There was a boat-staffer (a crew member?) standing on the dock taking tickets and I started asking him questions: what happens if you're on the river and a storm comes up? Have any booze cruises ever sunk? Has anyone ever drowned on a booze cruise? What if the boat gets struck by lightning? How many life preservers were on board? How many lifeboats? How much time would one have to escape after the boat sunk, before the undertow vortex sucked one under?
A bunch of people waiting to get on the boat shied away nervously. I let them go past me while I waited, pondering the boat. Every time another boat would go by, the wake would make the Booze Cruise boat list and lurch. The Boat Staffer kept urging me to get on the boat. I said I was going to look at it for a while and try to summon up the courage to get on the fucker. My friend Jay leaned out the door and beckoned for me to come on board. I yelled back that I wasn't quite sure I would be able to do so. Mandy and Mark (Mark and Mandy - nanoo, nanoo) waved from the Fratastic deck, and I waved back, staring at the other icky people who were probably really huge Dave Matthews fans, just like the people who were mean to me in high school.
Finally, the Booze Cruise blew its horn (much like the Angel Gabriel -- blow, Gabriel, blow!) and I still wasn't on the boat. My friend Zach came running down the gangplank to get me and I was like, "Uh, Zach, I don't think I can do this." And then I said a lot of mean and nasty things about how I didn't want to listen to the band's fucking set ever again and how I didn't like boats and I especially didn't like boats where there were people who were probably going to be mean to me again, just like in high school. And Zach sighed and then asked so nicely if i would please-get-on-the-fucking-boat and my other friends stood in the doorway, making nice-nice gestures and promising to soothe my worries with xanax and tequila. Zach grabbed my hand and led me down the gangplank, where I promptly collapsed into the fetal position and started crying hysterically.
I don't remember the next few minutes because I think I retreated into my inner happy place, thinking of happy things like when little kids call turtles "turkles" and the pleasure of eating a sharp piece of cheddar, and suddenly I was on the boat and Jay was pressing a drink into my hand and everyone was staring at me because I was crying hysterically as two grown men supported me into an upright position. And then I got tispy and eventually managed to walk around without holding onto the railing with a white-knuckled grip, and I was even able to dance with Mandy when the Neon Thrills ended their set with "Surrender," my fave arena-rock song.
I don't really remember being boat-phobic as a little kid; the first time this phobia ever surfaced was when my family went to Cape Cod one summer and we decided to take a Whale Watch on a floating behemoth of fear called "Portuguese Princess." The Whale Watch set sail from Provincetown, where my brother and I were really confused by the men with pocketbooks, and where my cousin kept singing the Titanic Song:
They built the ship Titanic, to sail the ocean blue.
They said it was a ship that water wouldn't go through.
But on its maiden voyage, an iceberg hit the ship.
It was sad when the great ship went down.
Oh it was sad.
It was sad.
It was sad when the great ship went down to the bottom of the sea....
It was sad when the great ship went down.
Perhaps you've never been on the hellaciously terrifying journey known as the Whale Watch. They take you out into the ocean to go look at humpbacked whales (which my brother and I kept calling "hunchbacked whales") and then they go: "LOOK! WHALE! 3o'clock!" And then the millions of people on the boat run over to 3 o'clock to look for the whale. And the boat nearly tips over. And then they go, "WHALE! 6 o'clock!" and everyone runs to the back of the boat and the boat goes ass-end into the water and if you're clinging tenaciously to the front of the boat because you're convinced that the Portuguese Princess is going down to the bottom of the sea, you end up nearly-vertical over the ocean. And then I was pretty much convinced that either an iceberg or a whale was going to sing the boat and we were all going to die and I started crying hysterically and my mother tried to pretend that I didn't belong to her and my whole family was mortified and to this very day, they bring up the infamous whale watch just to make me uncomfortable.
So, yeah. I'm a superhero and my tragic flaw is a horrible fear of boats and I still haven't conquered the phobia. But, if someone wanted me to model for their album cover on a boat, I would totally do it.
My desire to be the next Bebe Buell outweighs even the boatphobia.