My gnome and I took a cruise. No, I’m not speaking derogatorily of a spouse or friend. I actually took a garden gnome on a seven-day floating vacation.

Why, you may well ask. Well, I wanted to spend a whole week away from email, texts and unnecessary talking, and gnomes — at least not TV ones — are notoriously non-conversationalists. I anticipated a wonderful, relaxing holiday, returning refreshed to the working world.

What I did not expect was the reaction my travelling companion and I would get from our fellow vacationers.

The very first breakfast on board Gnomey (his official moniker) and I joined a group of diners already seated at a large table. Rather bashfully I took him out of my beach bag and placed him next to my plate, quite anticipating rolling of eyes, grimaces of shock or even an abrupt exodus from the table.

To my surprise, and, truth to tell amazement, my table companions were delighted with their new dining companion.

Surprisingly a number of them confessed that they have always wanted to bring an inanimate creature with them, if only for bringing a fresh look to the ever-boring vacation photographs. After some initial shyness, they vied for the opportunity to hold the gnome, take selfies with him and even offered to share their morning mimosas! Wow, that was a serious surprise.

Word quickly spread and I was accosted by gnome fans, clamoring for photos or even a chance to hold him. I felt rather like Britney or Kobe, trailed by the paparazzi.

Gnomey had more invitations to the Blue Iguana and the Red Frog Bar than I did, and I know I saw him sitting on the edge of the whirlpool.

He even sat in on a poker game one night — what happens on the boat stays on the boat — but he definitely had a chip when he arrived back at the cabin.

Gnomey and I sailed on a catamaran — we both decided snorkeling was not a good idea — took the Conch train in Key West, and even sat together at the captain’s formal dinner on board ship. I dressed in my finery, of course, but he wore his usual attire — gnomes are a bit snobby about formal wear.

All too soon it was the last night at sea. By now my room steward not only left me an animal-shaped towel and chocolate, he also left one for Gnomey.

We sadly packed our bag and had one last drink at the bar — gin and tonic for me, a bloody mary for him (he likes the vegetable garnish).

Back in New Orleans his fans, and even the crew, bid us a fair farewell, but walking down the gangway I definitely heard at least one “Y’all come back now, y’hear.”

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