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This is the final page of our Rhapsody 2006 trip.

This was a very difficult story for me to write for several reasons.

The first problem was that this was our fourth Rhapsody trip.  I had already said everything about the Rhapsody that could possibly be said.  Although the trip was fabulous for many people, it was hard to write fresh copy.

The second problem was that nothing went wrong.  I mean, this was a Dream Trip.  This trip went off like clockwork.  No one came to Dad with any complaints because everyone was too busy having fun.  Say what you wish, but problems make for good stories.

The third thing was that they didn't need me to get the party started.  Gary Richardson and Phyllis Porter took care of that role.  Gary got the dancing going and Phyllis got the trouble started. 

Me?  I made announcements at dinner and did a couple puzzles.  Big deal. 

So I stayed on the edge of the energy whirl.  Mostly I spent the trip going around smiling, saying hi to people, and steering as clear of the hot tub frivolity as possible. 

But the main reason I didn't have much to write about is because no one talked to me any more.  That's right... every person on this trip had read my stories and knew to keep their mouths shut.  And if they didn't figure it out themselves, the veteran members of the group pulled them aside and gave them the facts of life. 

"Do whatever you want, have all the fun you can have, but don't tell Rick.  What happens on the ship stays on the ship. Or else. If we find out you have talked, we will throw you overboard or put you at the bottom of the hot tub."

I am telling you - I don't think your average Mafia family has a tighter control on secrecy than this group.

There was all sorts of crazy singles stuff going on that would have been fun to write about, but the moment I showed up, they all sat up and started to behave.   "Hi, Rick, how are you?  Now get lost."

Once I did see something.  But the two people told me if one word got out, I was a dead man.  I could see they were serious.

So now you know why I had trouble writing stories - my life was at stake.

However there is one thing I can say without risking my life - there were an incredible number of friends made on this trip as well as old friendships that were enhanced.  I have never seen a happier bunch of people in my life.

On this trip, we created a community of friends.  The pictures tell the story.  Look for yourself.



You know how at the end of the play, you need to acknowledge the stars of the show?

Well, the first person to thank is Marla.  It is time for you to stand up and clap.  Marla did a phenomenal job.

The trip went off without a hitch because Marla made sure to take of every problem before the trip even started. 

Marla answered a million questions, returned hundreds of phone calls, and basically fried her email program answering countless number of emails. 

Yes, Marla was paid for her work, but as always she put in a ton of extra effort making sure that everyone was cared for.

I am grateful to this talented woman for the success of our Travel Program.  I admire Marla so much.


The second person to acknowledge is Gary Richardson.  He served as First Lieutenant on this trip. 

Gary's late night dance events were hugely popular.  Using a computer, he brought along a vast number of songs to dance to.  He also brought some compact speakers that were very effective at putting out a great sound.  Best of all, he danced the night away.

The combination of the Ballroom Dancing in the Centrum and Gary's Late Night Dance Jams combined to make this the finest dance cruise SSQQ has ever taken.  The Stars were out every night.

In addition to his DJ work, Gary worked tirelessly at taking pictures every day on the trip.  On the three previous Rhapsody trips, Gary was practically the only guy with a digital camera.  However this year dozens of people were snap snap snapping away.  And these people were generous to contribute their pictures so that Gary could make a CD of the trip.

As a result of their generosity, Gary was inundated with pictures.  He said he was given over 2,000 pictures.  Slaving away for days, he finally whittled the pictures down to 1,300, then set out to put them in some sort of order from start to finish.  This hard work made it much easier for me to now which picture belonged with which story, but I know it meant a ton of work for Gary.

A few weeks after the trip, we had a Post-Trip Party at the studio on a Friday Night.  Gary shared the pictures from the trip using a Slide Show.  There must have been 70 people laughing their heads off at the hot tub pictures and smiling at the memories. 

Gary made a lot of people happy with his pictures.  Gary was a big part of the success of this trip.


Rhapsody 2006 was the third Rhapsody trip where the Center of Attention put her personal stamp of approval on every activity.

Phyllis is actually something of a riddle to me.  She loves to stir up trouble, she loves to get people in trouble, she loves to create energy, but she never gets in trouble.  How she stays so close to the fire but never lose control is quite an accomplishment.  Phyllis is the consummate firewalker. 

How she manages to avoid giving into temptation is beyond me.  For example, when Phyllis gets in those hot tubs, I see pictures of her with a drink in her hand.  And when she takes her friends on those drinking binges, I see her with a drink in her hand too.  Phyllis is drinking right along with the rest of them.  But while Alph gets up and dances on bars, Phyllis just smiles and take pictures.

Phyllis really feeds off of her friend Alph.  They have a very strong relationship.  Alph likes to get out of control, but I think she appreciates having Phyllis around to keep an eye on her in case she gets too close to the deep end.  What an interesting pair those two are.

Ever since they first teamed up on Rhapsody 2004, Alph & Phyllis have dominated every trip with their shenanigans.  Together they get all the parties started... and stick around to finish them too! 

Another part of Phyllis that fascinates me is her amazing 'Center of Attention' personality.  Me?  Heck, I am content to stay in the shadows, but not Phyllis.  She wants to be out there Center Stage with all eyes upon her.  She was born for the spotlight.

And if the spotlight isn't on her, heck, Phyllis runs over to it and shines it on herself.  One of Phyllis' most amazing stunts was the time in 2004 when she ran up on the stage and began kissing a Beatle Impersonator!  Yes, this bold move was the start of the legend of the Center of Attention!  The Faux Fab Four were up on stage singing "I Want to Hold Your Hand." 

Phyllis figured if they could impersonate the Beatles, then she could impersonate an out-of-control Beatlemaniac!   So up on stage she ran and wrapped herself around Paul.  To her delight, he got a kick out of it and played along!  What a great move.

Pretty soon the entire SSQQ Crowd was up on the stage dancing the night away.  We loved it, the Beatles loved it, and Phyllis was now famous. 

This Magic Moment was the beginning of the Center of Attention's notoriety. 

And as this trip proved, the Center of Attention is still the Center of Attention.   She hasn't lost a step.  In fact, she has learned to advertise her importance.

What I would like to say is how lucky our group is to have Phyllis.  If we can stop laughing for just a moment at her crazy antics and take a step back, we would notice what enormous contributions Phyllis makes to every trip.

In conjunction with her friend Mara Rivas, Phyllis organizes a bus trip to and from the Rhapsody.  You have no idea how much fun these people have.  The moment they hit the ship, things are never the same.

Phyllis in conjunction with her friend Alph makes the Rhapsody Hot Tub a burning lava pit of constant energy.  I might tsk tsk and roll my eyes, but I know for a fact she has people laughing their butts off all day long in that hot tub.  She is definitely the organizer of all kinds of mischief.

And yes, I look askance every time Phyllis does her "Circe Number" on the drinking sprees.  She has turned more than one man into swine as she gets them drunk as a skunk. Then Phyllis takes as many embarrassing pictures as her camera will hold. Later she teases them about the pictures for the rest of the trip. She is the consummate blackmailer to be sure.  "I'm going to give this picture to Rick!" 

But you know what?  Not one guy has ever complained.  And why should they?  These guys are having the time of their lives.

For all Phyllis' penchant for troublemaking, underneath it all she is a caretaker.  I suppose she would rather I not point this out... (but knowing Phyllis, all attention is good attention, so why not?)... but Phyllis watches out for people.  She makes sure that every stray gets included in the group.  She takes a lot of guys and a lot of girls who are on the shy side and corrupts them immediately.

Once they start having fun, there go the old inhibitions.  These quiet people are lucky to have someone like Phyllis to pull them out of their shell even as they kick, scream, and protest as she does it.  Then at the end of the trip they tell Phyllis how grateful they are for her help in getting them into more trouble than they ever dreamed possible.

I think Phyllis is amazing. I am in awe of her prodigious talent for entertaining people on these cruises. 

Thank you, Center of Attention.  You were truly the MVP of this trip for the third year in a row. 

The entire group is in your debt.  You Rock, Phyllis!

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