Live From The Gulf Of Mexico!

SOMEWHERE IN THE GULF OF MEXICO – A good sign that you have sufficiently drown your Hurricane Ike-related sorrows: When you are in Cozumel and, after you drink your lunch at Senor Frog's, you return in the evening to drink your dinner at Senor Frog's.

And you happily wear a Phallic Balloon Hat.

This column was supposed to serve as space for my thoughts on a Cowboys-Eagles Sunday nighter that pits two of the few contending teams that enter Week 2 with a victory. Instead – please accept my apologies – I'm more concerned about death, and destruction, and. … my car.

It could be much worse, of course. Our Carnival Cruise ship is safe, docked in Cozumel for two days while we wait for Galveston to re-open. Initially our return was planned for Sunday – in time to drive back to Dallas, watch a dozen NFL football games, and finally, cover the big game. Now it looks like the authorities won't allow us back into Galveston until possibly Tuesday. And when we do, amid the infinitely more important lives lost or upset due to the billions of dollars of devastation, we're assuming we'll find my new Toyota Tundra (Hi, Toyota of Irving! Hi, Nationwide Insurance!) underwater and upside-down.

If we find it at all. You know, those Tundras can endure most anything. But they ain't exactly canoes.

My sons are a little worried. Marcia's family is calm – except her 80-year-old dad, an old Navy man whose father was a spy for the British Navy, who sounds like he's about ready to confiscate a helicopter to personally air-lift us the hell out of here.

But really, we'll be fine. Admittedly, watching too much CNN is filling me with an apocalyptic feeling; it seems that all along the Texas shore, what's not under water is on fire. And repeated warnings of how Ike plans to amble up to DFW are less than comforting.

So Marcia keeps winning the Karaoke contests (touchingly, she sings "Hopelessly Devoted To You'' with feeling), I keep losing at Blackjack because my math-deprived brain can't add 8+6 quickly enough (I am smart enough to have learned that my endless hands of 8+6 aren't fortuitous) and I keep splitting victories in all the trivia contests. There's this one son of a bitch who plays "Newman'' to my "Seinfeld.'' He looks like Newman, acts like Newman, is obviously, in his ability to stick with me in sports, movie and music trivia, is underhanded like Newman, too.

I must say, I am getting a little sick of humans; they dress poorly and they often stink. I do my best; in the computer room, I've guided more than a few ancients in the Art of the Email. I got on my knees and sang "My Girl'' to one grandmotherly lady. And when children run down the halls in front of my cabin, I only occasionally stick my leg out of my door to trip them.

One guy accused me of stealing his custom-made omelet. The chef handed it to me as he and I thought it was mine. Then a guy taps me on the shoulder.

"Did you order a ham omelet?''

No, I said apologetically, and I handed him the plate.

"Did you even order an omelet at all?'' he said accusingly.

"No,'' I snarled. "I never order omelets. We've been on this boat for a week, and I never order an omelet. All I do is stand alongside the omelet line, like an omelet vulture, and when some schlemiel like you orders something that sounds tasty, I pretty much just intercept it. And then I run away.''

I swear I said that. Furthermore, after I said it, some other omelet customer gave me the evil eye. So I said, "Do you want me to steal yours, too?''

I guess I dislike people even more than usual right now.

Anyway, thanks for the emails and the prayers. One friend is keeping an eye on my house. Another was kind enough to update my Fantasy Football roster (sign of The Week That Was To Come: My first-round pick was Tom Brady). Jeff Pearlman sent me a copy of "Boys Will Be Boys'' and I'm reading it while preparing a book review for Meanwhile, Roy P. is graciously giving me time off. (Without pay, but still. …)

Soon, we'll be home. I'll miss the all-you-can-eat bacon and all the ever-smiling service staff made up of happy-to-be-here Romanians and my crappy little trivia trophies and I'll miss my Penis Balloon Hat.

I'll even sort of miss the weird combo-feeling of calm and of gloom. When we gaze out our balcony onto the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, I sense both: A seemingly-endless beautiful blue vision that, this week, really is almost "endless'' at it extends inland, over streets and houses and buildings and. … my car.

What I will not miss: Cowboys vs. Eagles. I've been on this boat long enough to have developed a relationship with the bartender. So in "Gauguin's Sports Bar'' on Monday night, I'll be pretty much running the remote.

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