In 1997, James Cameron’s Titanic steamed into theaters with a popular frenzy, and like every other tween I knew, I quickly became obsessed. Fake heart of the ocean diamonds, “My Heart Will Go On” on repeat, books and magazines read and reread, the famous pose mimicked at the middle of playground slides… We were all smitten with the romantic artist and his feisty redhead. Ah, the beauty of young love.
Then the years passed, and the blockbuster film slipped into the dark recesses as the odd date night DVD and the occasional television special. It’s been a long while since I last viewed the film, and enticed by an upcoming Titanic exhibit and dining experience, I blew the dust off my DVD and again boarded in Southampton.
And oh how the years have changed me. Jack, save your “I’m a free spirit blowing in the wind” nonsense. Hockley, don’t be a douche. And Rose, get it together. I’d probably be frustrated, too, if I bought you a priceless diamond and all I got in return was a ten-cent drawing, or if you ruined my life’s work and multi-million-dollar excavation by dropping that necklace. In fact, the only one that seems to have any sense at all is that crazy Italian, who unfortunately gets smushed by a chimney. WHERE IS YOUR DECENCY, PEOPLE?
It would be hard to deny the real crew and passengers give just as much life to the legend as the film. At the exhibit, Mr. Omar was a Chinese fireman-sailor who survived by hiding away at the bottom of a collapsible lifeboat. I was traveling to America to join an order of nuns and of course died. There were people whose legacies reach into our time, like the founder of Macy’s and his wife who refused to be separated, and John Jacob Astor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (Astoria…how did I not catch that?).
There were stories that hinted at the terrible wars which followed, along with actions and oddities that give the disaster its intrigue. Why did no one heed the numerous ice warnings? How did the famous baker really ward off hypothermia? So many questions that may never have answers….So many stories told with copious amounts of dramatic flair by our tour guide.
The question that had me guessing the most, however (along with what did people do when 7 million pieces of mail failed to be delivered), rang to the modern day.
It was this: Were any of the passengers cruising for the fun of it as we do now, or was Titanic simply an older version of the jetliner, broken into classes most people consider exorbitant?
If its use did in fact mimic today’s air travel, I probably would have found myself in the lower classes. And, like the soon-to-be nun Miss Hanora Hegarty of ticket 365226, I probably would have ended up dead. Sad thing to contemplate.