Many of you know SVV, but on this voyage he’s rapidly becoming known as the Kept Man. Below, he explains how this came to be…
Virtually the entire shipboard community has a function attached to their name but the Kept Man meanders amidst the harried professors, students, staff and crew like a little pixie bird, sprightly ignoring the clock and measuring time by the sound of silverware clattering in the kitchen and the increasingly jealous stares he receives when mentioning a busy massage schedule.
The life of a Kept Man is difficult. He’s got to figure out ways to wile away the day and keep his mind from rotting into a pile of fish guts so he’s endlessly staring out into the blue parts of the sky in search of meaning and context from which to judge his worth. The yardsticks are murky as there are a total of three ridiculously impressive benchmarks from which to measure upon this floating oasis of white steel:
- seasoned citizens
prowling the hallssitting on deck chairs and telling amazing stories of intellectual exploration, adventurous travel involving shipping freighters and illustrious careers changing the world, one tort at a time.
- beefy Situations with a seven percent BMI and nothing but kerosene and sugar fueling their lives. Maybe a trust fund, as well, but who really knows these things. He tries not to judge.
- Presidential Scholars, Desmond Tutu Scholars and various Other Scholars that have a stipend to circumnavigate the earth and spread good like so many apple seeds.
You can see the conundrum?
The Kept Man has begun repeated visits to the iron-filled, testosterone inducing and totally MANLY spa on Deck 7. Ignore the scented oils, facial polishes and meticulously crafted brochures highlighting body treatments that begin in mistranslated French. These are mere distractions for the uninitiated. Behind the perfume, the bronzing treatments and the rare salt-rubs lie deep tissue and Swedish massage, and if you dare tread into this harem, thou shalt not return.
The Kept Man has found that surrounding himself with acres of tanned skin and bikini bottoms on the pool deck in the aft of M/V Explorer is a fabulous way to gather vitamin D and rhyming reflections on the nature of the human condition. The students come and go, muttering about homework and the difficulty of reading their professor’s PDF files in the bright sun but the Kept Man simply smiles, rotates the deck chair to an angle of maximum sun intensity and smears more Coppertone Sport onto his face.
His biggest concern is the density of cloud cover and whether there will be milk for his coffee in the mid-morning light to continue his journey into the mind of man.
There are many alternative methods by which the Kept Man can enrich his mind while traveling with Semester at Sea. College-level courses are held each day while sailing on topics ranging from religious studies, architecture and comparative literature. The library—a glass, steel and wooden affair with terrific views of the rushing ocean—holds 9,000 books, many of which are intimately related to the countries this ship is visiting. The Kept Man has borrowed folk tales from Morocco, read Paul Bowles’ psychedelic scribblings, tapped into the moral histories of myriad philosophers and is currently grasping the full scale of the late-19th century British Empire’s near annihilation of Africa in the pursuit of diamonds, gold and war.
But does it stop there? Hark, there lay the elliptical machines and a pile of free-weights! There lay the endless supply of coffee and skittles! There lay, my friends, a buffet of tasty morsels three times a day. Has this ship been crafted in Heaven by angels of leisure? Has every inch of this vessel been shaped for the pursuit of a Jeffersonian ideal?