“Maybe next time, ya come with a boyfriend?” The taxi driver said to me.
“You single, girl?” The taxi driver asked me as he maneuvered alongside the coastline towards the Bahamian resort where I would be staying for the next five days.
“Yes, I am.”
I don’t know if it was my sense of neutrality or naivete that made me think that vacationing at a couples’ resort in the Bahamas alone was a good idea.
The trip was a last-minute decision. With less than six weeks before my 30th birthday, I was determined to celebrate the milestone in style. Originally my plan was to visit some old friends in New York, but then Hurricane Sandy refused to get off her raucous rag, so I found myself booking an all-inclusive trip to a three-star resort in Nassau instead. With all my friends and family having prior obligations, I thought the trip would be the perfect opportunity to vacation for the first time solo. Seriously.
Having been single for more than a couple years, my life as a “party of one” was a pretty comfortable one. I honestly didn’t think going as a singleton was such a big deal.
“Maybe next time, ya come with a boyfriend?” The taxi driver said to me. Clearly, it was.
The resort was bright pink with splashes of yellow and blue. Upbeat steel drum music (is there any other kind?) could be heard as we pulled up to the front. Though the resort didn’t advertise itself as an exclusive couples’ destination, I guess all the photos of Laughing Couple, Swimming Couple, Getting Drunk at Pool Bar Couple, on its website were my probably my first clue.
Immediately I spotted those same couples as soon as I stepped out from the cab. They all turned to me, each with the same expression across their bronzed faces: ‘are you lost?’
“You seem a little lost,” said a voice behind me. I turned around and saw a cute twentysomething blond-and-blue-eyed guy smiling at me.
“Just a little,” I said, batting my eyelashes a little too hard. The resort was ridiculously huge, and as I was investigating all its amenities, I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at a dead-end in Corridor C. It was just as well. I wouldn’t be able to actually do any of the activities. I couldn’t play tennis by myself, there was no point scaling the rock mountain wall without anyone to Instagram it for me, and though I didn’t know how to play shuffleboard, I was pretty sure it was unconquerable solo. It looked like I would have to continue hibernating at the beach, if I could find it…
“If you’re looking for the beach, it’s that way,” he said. Damn. Not only did this guy have ESPY-like, muscular bronzed arms, but he had ESP, too. I had considered having a Bahamian bang session if the right opportunity presented itself. Maybe he was it? Then I remembered where I was and then I heard, “Honey, are you coming?” and spotted his blonde-blue-eyed wife/girlfriend behind him. Then I banged my head against the wall.
“Sorry, if I hurt you,” said my server, D’Angelo, after he banged my knee hard with the table. He was awkwardly trying to transition what’s usually a table for two to a table for one, and, given his wide-eyed expression after checking and re-checking the reservation (yes, it says one) I don’t think poor D’Angelo had ever done such a thing.
Included with my vacation package was a free three-course dinner at the resort’s fancy schmancy dimly-lit dining room called, obviously, The Garden of Eden. The resto looked like something out of a Harlequin romance novel: tall plastic trees covered with twinkly lights, chandeliers dangling from branches, and la crème de la crème – tables with love seats facing the resort’s equally charming garden. Each table was divided by a wicker barrier for, I guess, privacy reasons, or in my case, privately spying. The couple on my right was middle-aged and Greek and hardly said two words to each other throughout the entire meal. The couple on my left was young and obese and between slurps of their conch salad, they ate each other’s faces. I was between the two extremes of relationships: young and horny, old and hollow, and I wanted to be those people. Okay, maybe just the Greek and horny parts. But, still. I longed to enjoy that goddamn love seat with someone other than my other ass cheek. But there’s something about ordering a glass of champagne, sitting in the middle of a love seat alone, and knowing that you don’t need someone to enjoy your meal at a cheesy restaurant that made those twinkly lights shine a little brighter that night.
“Are you having a good time, honey?” I looked up from my book and saw a tall black woman wearing a large t-shirt turban hovering over me.
“I am,” I told her. It was my third day at the resort, and I was spending most of my time at the beach reading, writing and reflecting. Basically, being Zen as fuck. I had noticed this t-shirt lady before, strolling up and down the beach, selling her custom-made jewelry, postcards and, yes, t-shirts.
“We don’t usually see single girls around here,” she said.
“I imagine you don’t.”
“My name’s Candy,” she said. “We lookin’ out for you. Me and the girls.” She pointed to the group of her fellow t-shirt turbaned ladies. They waved at me. I waved back. “Thank you,” I said. “That means a lot.”
I thought that was her cue to leave, but Candy remained. She wanted me to buy something. Fuck. Her postcards were actually beach currency for pizzo. She was Don Candy! Flustered, I bought two necklaces, an anklet and a t-shirt that read “We Be Jammin’.” “Maybe you should get outta dis resort. Meet a man. Just to make sure you get outta yo head, ya know? You should be jammin’.”
His name was Salvador. He was cute. Cheeky, too. And definitely flirty. We were first introduced by his trainer, Sandra, on Paradise Island, where, after heeding Candy’s advice, I had decided to go for a day trip to get outta my head. Soon after Salvador and I met, I found myself in a pool with him alongside a crowd chanting: “Kiss her! Kiss her!”
It was going to happen whether I liked it or not.
His kiss was salty and wet. Probably because he lived in the water. There was also a hint of fish on his breath. Probably because of his mostly pescian diet.
Yep, Salvador was a dolphin. I was kissing a mother fucking dolphin. And I didn’t care that this was the most action I would get on my solo Bahamian vacation.
“Maybe I can come home witchu,” Antoine, the resort’s security guard, said to me on my last day. I had thought I sent clear ‘cease and desist’ signals throughout our brief introductory chitchat a few days ago, but obviously I was very wrong because this guy wanted to meet my parents.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said.
“Why not? Your parents won’t like me?”
“They don’t know you. I don’t know you.”
“Sometimes ya gotta take a chance, you know?”
Dude had a point. I may have travelled solo to a couples’ resort, but when it came to my dating life, I wondered how daring I was. My impression of Next Boyfriend was esoteric and of someone that I assumed I would meet down the line, so therefore I didn’t have to try really hard, sort of like he was Jesus or something. My trip had been an enlightening and empowering one, but maybe it was time to finally realize and accept that slurping a conch salad in silence with someone could be something amazing. Just not with Antoine.
“So would ya come back again?” the same taxi driver asked me as we headed to the airport.
“I would,” I told him.
“Wit a boy this time?”
“Yes. With a boy,” I said. “I think that would be nice.”
Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. She no longer keeps in touch with Salvador, but she does make time for jammin’. You can follow her @briannehogan.