Making an Impression at Club Med
My father worked all the time. The only break he ever took was our family’s annual one week trip to Club Med over the New Year holiday. We went to a different location every year, so by the time I grew out of my teens, we had dotted most of the Caribbean.
I’d always stake out the grounds first, in a hunt to find another boy near my age to befriend for the week. I would have loved to meet a girl, but such a scenario was scientifically impossible; I scared like a deer in the presence of a pretty girl. Yet it was imperative that I meet a playmate, as my father was even less available than at home. He’d unwind the entire year of stress by the beach, in a chair under the shade of a lone tree, with a schlocky crime novel and a carton of smokes.
The only attention he bestowed upon me was in a peculiar way; at times I would catch him hidden behind a pillar, or sneaking around a corner, like one of the spies in his novels, silently watching me playing ping pong. My only guess was this was his way of seeing me behave in my natural state, but regardless, it was weird. We shared a room, of course, so I was privy to his slugs of cognac straight from the bottle, and his fits of sleepy farts. At last he’d roll over, burnt cigarette flaming out in a tin ashtray, leaving space for my poor mother to lay down in this bed of roses.
One year when I was 13, by dumb luck, my school buddy Benny and his parents came to the same Club Med for the New Year. Benny was a degenerate troublemaker, so we got along very well. When adults marry, they say they found the one. To a teenage boy, the one is the friend who teaches you how to spank the monkey. Benny was that one, but this point requires clarification; he didn’t teach me in the sense of a mentorship, like a tennis instructor feeds balls to correct form, though pointers were given. He mainly just enlightened me on this fabulous new feature in my scrotum.
One night before this trip, I had slept over Benny’s house and we were watching an excellent B movie with flashes of naked boobs and butts of sexy women, and he just whipped his tackle out.
“Dude what the hell are you doing!?”
Instinctively, I grabbed scissors off his desk to gouge my eyes out, but curiosity at such outlandish behavior got the better of me. He gave a little color commentary, telling me about the particular technique of his stroke and why it was so effective. I somehow knew not to stick around for the climactic finish. I locked myself in his bathroom and ran the shower, stationing myself on his toilet, bringing the girls from the movie to mind. I got a chubby! Then experimented with it. The rest is history, as I scarcely left my bathroom for the next five years, until it was time to go to college.
So there Benny and I were at Club Med, set loose on the grounds with virtually no supervision. He was more forward than me, and we managed to sort of cobble together a little crew of kids about our age. The girls were cute, too. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I watched this dude Shane talk to the girls. He was by any objective observation a tall, gawky, pimply motherfucker with a weird little head bob when he walked. He was only a year older than me, so vast experience couldn’t be it, but he knew how to make them laugh and even touch him. It was like watching a cat smoke a cigarette.
There was plenty to keep us busy in the resort, but we loved to push boundaries. Benny and I walked on the beach one day, past the line establishing club property, and continued until there were no people along the shore. We came upon a little cave, and to our surprise, out stepped an extremely tall and muscular black man in a speedo and seashell necklace.
“Hallo, boys,” he said. “Ya like to race, on the sea?” He motioned for us to come closer. “Is OK, look here.” From the entrance of the cave we could see two stunning jet skis. This was when these motorcycles on water first came on the market. We couldn’t believe it.
“$20 for each, 30 minute.”
“OK, we’ll be back,” Benny said.
We raced back to the club and hounded our folks for the money. What spoiled shits! This beautiful, exotic resort didn’t offer enough? For reasons unclear to me, our parents gave us the money. I don’t think they quite understood what we were asking, or perhaps that we omitted the minor detail of renting a water motorcycle from a mysterious cave dweller off club grounds. We ran back to the man with our bounty, who quickly mounted us on the two skis. The islander fired up our engines, and Benny and I exchanged a look of disbelief at the raw horsepower now under our control. We revved ‘em up and shot out into the clear blue sea.
It was beyond exhilarating. Out in the vast space of water and sky, there was nothing left of my little world. The motor purred under my command. It went so fast! The sea splashed its spray in my face as I gunned the ski atop curling waves. There was nobody else except Benny out here. At some point I looked up, and in the distance saw the figure of the tall island man waving us in. Back on the beach we were jubilant, clapping and hugging and wrestling and rolling in the sand. It was the most freeing experience of my life — with the notable exception of freeing my own willy — and I desperately wanted to do it again.
We had the good sense not to hit our folks up for another round on the same day, so we were forced to come down from our high, at least for the evening. We drank beer and shared a cigarette I swiped from my room and watched Shane work his moves on the young girls. He didn’t have his usual ball cap on and his hair was revealed to be even more of a monstrosity than his face. He sported shaved racer stripes by his ears, fashionable at the time in arcade rooms, and about a bucket full of mousse that made it look like he had a metal cannon ready to fire from his scalp. Lest anyone find these assessments too harsh, rest assured, these descriptions are kind.
There were two girls, Keri and Rebecca, from Rhode Island. They were attractive brunettes with already curving, womanly figures. It was completely intimidating. Even Benny, ever the daredevil, was right there next to me ogling the girls from afar, who were busy giggling at everything Shane said. We passed the beer bottle until it was done, and right then the strangest thing happened. Shane stopped talking to the girls and came over to me.
“Yo, what’s your name again?”
“See that girl over there? With the boobs?”
“She thinks you’re cute. The other one is mine, Holmes, you feel me? But you can run game on Rebecca.” He sniffled and blew snot in an airborne trajectory. It was impressive. “That is, if you got any game.”
“I got game,” I said, having no idea what he meant.
“Yeah, whatever. We’ll be on the beach, come right quick in a minute. And don’t cockblock, yo.”
Benny was speechless until I hit his arm and asked him what on earth I was going to do.
“I think exactly what Vanilla Ice just said.” I snickered at his apt comparison. He continued. “It’s just like when Tracy Lords got naked on the beach in that Skinemax movie! Go down there!”
He pushed me in their direction. Shane and the two girls had already walked toward the water. I started to follow them, but instead veered off and found a desolate patch of beach in the dark, slid between two lounge chairs, and feverishly masturbated by a bush. That was my comfort zone.
The next day, Benny and I ate lunch and hounded our parents for another $20 bucks each. Amazingly, we got it. I had this great idea to redeem myself and ran to find Shane, who was shooting hoops on the basketball court.
“Yo where’d ya go last night? I knew you’d punk out like a bitch.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m sorry about that, but listen, me and Benny got these awesome jet skis at the end of the beach, like past club property. Bring the girls there in an hour and we’ll blow ‘em away. Then tonight I’ll, y’know, have game. OK?”
“Yeah, whatever,” he said, dribbling the ball through his gangly legs.
I figured the idea that it was off club grounds and involved water motorcycles had a certain danger to it that would motivate Shane to cooperate. Benny and I walked through the club and we ran into Rebecca and Keri, who were getting out of the pool. Rebecca hopped on one foot to empty her ear of water and her boobs shook against her tight bathing
“Hey guys, what’s up?” she said. My tongue disappeared somewhere down my esophagus. Benny rescued me.
“We’re about to do the coolest thing. We’re going to ride jet skis down the beach. Like not part of the club.”
“Really?” Keri asked, toweling off. “That could be cool,” she said, not entirely believing we were up to anything of actual interest.
“Let’s go watch,” Rebecca said. I couldn’t believe it! As if on cue, like a real pimp, Shane appeared and threw his arms around Keri. Ice ice, baby. They all followed us to the cave.
We found the giant islander sipping nectar out of a coconut. The two jet skis were already waiting in the water. We were expected!
“Hello!” We called to him.
He greeted our crew and took our money. “Remember, amlamay, amlamay.”
“What the hell he just say?” Shane poked his head between me and Benny.
“It means respect the sea,” I said.
“Bullshit,” Shane said, spitting on the sand. “It totally means, ‘I love white girls.’”
“Dude, what is wrong with you?” I asked.
“C’mon, E, let’s ride,” Benny said and mounted his ski. And quietly to me, “Let’s kick some serious ass.”
I took one last look at Shane and the girls, and caught the piercing eye of the Islander, whose intensity frightened me. I hadn’t encountered too many cave dwellers in speedos and seashells, but he’d been nice to us. The important thing was the look of awe in Rebecca’s eyes. I had never seen that look before. I turned the key and felt that electric voltage shock my heart. I hit the gas and hung on tight.
It felt amazing to have a captive audience. I’m sure Benny felt the same, because whenever I’d look, he was busy doing all kinds of fancy corkscrew turns. He’d angle his ski rather sharply in one direction, and then cut it back the other way, kind of like when a car does donuts in a parking lot. My tack was different; I had a need for speed.
I was having the time of my young life. It was so much fun on the ski with nobody watching, but now I had Rebecca to see me in all my glory. She would no doubt rush me with a delirious hug and a passionate kiss when I disembarked. I gunned the machine for all she was worth, pedal to the metal. They were merely distant blots on the sand. The ski was moving so fast it was hopping off the water.
During my daydream, I lost sight of Benny. And then, instantly, he was right there, in my line of fire… turning— WHAM! My ski crashed into the side of Benny’s ski at maximum speed. Everything went black. My first sensation was of flying through the air, held there as if suspended, finally dropping in water. I doggie paddled in my life preserver. My ski was nearby, engine torn out and battered, sputtering pathetically.
I heard a high-pitched voice cry, “You asshole! You almost killed me! You almost killed me!”
Benny was thrashing about in the water. He looked OK. His ski, on the other hand, was totaled. Sawed in half. I made my way over to the remnants of my ski, got on, and went to pick up Benny. It was nothing short of miraculous that he was in one piece. In fact, so far as we could tell, we didn’t have a scratch on us.
As we inched closer to shore, I saw the muscular Islander waving us in. This was to be our fate. Left for dead on a rocky shore in the Caribbean. At least we’d have witnesses. But really, who could blame this man whose business Benny and I just singlehandedly wiped out?
The girls were speechless, hands cupping their mouths. Even that Vanilla Ice/Snow poseur Shane had no comment. They were all breathless, waiting to see what the Islander would do.
“Please sir, don’t kill us! We’re sorry!” I pleaded.
“Ain’t me gonna kill you – your daddy gonna do that!”
I thought that was very perceptive of him. This guy’s wrath was nothing next to the fear I had of my father. I mean, he never hit me, but wasn’t there a first time for everything?
“Let’s go find them,” Benny said, immediately sobered, not furious at me anymore. A little near-death experience could never touch our friendship.
We found our parents, who were so grateful we weren’t dead or crippled, that they handed over the dough for new skis. It was something to see relief soften my father’s face.
More than one miracle in one day.
Erik Lewin is the author of Son of Influence, a witty coming of age saga filled with goombas, whack jobs and loopy neighbors.