In March of 2019, I was among roughly 2,000 passengers aboard the JoCo Cruise, which sailed from Fort Lauderdale. Early one morning, we pulled into the port of Tortola, largest of the British Virgin Islands. (Note: Tortola claims to be a Virgin Island, but I’ve seen the way it looks at Puerto Rico.) On the opposite side of the pier, a ship of similar size pulled up and began blasting children’s music “at us.”
I became involved in a discussion with fellow passengers around this question: “Do you think we could take them?”
By we, I meant the passengers and crew aboard our vessel; by them, I meant the passengers and crew aboard the other vessel; and by take, I meant whether we would win in a chaotic brawl between the two sides.
As evening arrived and both ships departed, I knew we had lost our opportunity. But watching the enemy vessel recede to a faint point of light on the horizon, I thought, What if we had torpedoes? And missiles we could launch from ports?
And what if market share in the cruise industry was decided not through dumb stuff like advertising, price elasticity, and Net Promoter Scores, but through each cruise line’s fleet taking literal aim at their competitors and blowing them the hell up?
And how do you play shuffleboard?
That night I had a dream in which the world had become a monstrous grotesquerie of its former self, with rules of decorum and common sense having been discarded due to a series of “unfathomable events” five years earlier. Giant donuts resembling life preservers were used as currency. Furniture was made of skulls. My landlord’s cat was there.
No one in the dream, including the cat, could tell me what had happened during these “unfathomable events,” nor why we all agreed to allow a despotic gang of absurdists called The Unfathomables to run the world in their aftermath.
Over a breakfast of whatever, it’s not important, I reasoned with my dining companions that cruise ship warfare would be entirely acceptable and probably logical in the post-unfathomable world of my dream. As I became more animated and yell-y about the idea, I realized I was eating alone. A waiter politely asked me to calm down. I politely refused.
I had a lot of time to think in the brig. When I was finally released, my next step was obvious: I created a board game.
And began calling myself The Admiral.