Hedonism may not be the only attraction of the Caribbean, but it is a powerful one. Certainly the pursuit of pleasure was all I had in mind when I booked a long weekend for our family at Club Med, Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.
From Voluntary Nomads, Part Six: Dominican Republic Dramas, Chapter 24:
We joined a group of embassy folks who gathered at Club Med to enjoy the many activities provided at this all-inclusive resort. Dakota and Tina found their friends and made a beeline to the sports activities led by the Club Med G.O.s (Gracious Organizers). Dakota and his buddies headed straight for the windsurfing beach; Tina's bunch homed in on the archery field. Fred and I went sailing for an hour before we parted ways. I wanted to try aerobics. Fred had his eye on the juggling class.
I found out later why the juggling class appealed to Fred. The G.O. was a curvaceous young French cutie whose string bikini had no top half. Impossible as it might have seemed, somehow the whole class, including Fred, did learn to juggle.
The aerobics class pumped me up. I jumped and kicked and hopped around with the best of them. Cardiovascular conditioning from years of running gave me a huge endurance advantage. Lacking proper shoes, I pranced barefoot on the hardwood stage like a Martha Graham clone. There was no logical reason not to do two classes back-to-back, so I did, and finished the second one wanting more.
With our friends at dinner, an all-you-can-eat sumptuous buffet prepared by a team of French chefs, we all babbled our enthusiasm about the Club Med activities, classes, and food. I sipped a plummy young cabernet and made multiple forays to the bread and cheese bar. Crusty, butter-infused garlic bread sang a harmonious duet with ambrosia-rimmed, creamy Camembert.
Constant refills of beer mugs and wine glasses energized the atmosphere and the party gathered steam. Everybody agreed that the post-dinner show in the auditorium should crown our evening.
Guests filled the tiers of wooden bench seats and excited chatter all but drowned out the piped-in background music. Then the lights dimmed and the Master of Ceremonies stepped out onto center stage.
"Okay everybody – it's time for Crazy Signs!"
All of the guests stood up to mimic the moves of the G.O.s as they demonstrated Club Med's signature communal dance. A wild combination of the Hokey Pokey and the Macarena, Crazy Signs drove us insane as we stumbled through the complicated series of waves, claps, stomps, kicks, twists, turns, bends, and shouts. It also broke the ice and set us up for the next act: the Couples' Contest.
Our M.C. called for three couples to volunteer as contestants. The row of embassy people behind Fred and me yelled and whistled while the M.C. chose the first two couples. We didn't know the conspirators in back of us were pointing and gesturing as well as hollering.
Couple Number 3? Fred and Nancy.
A bronze Adonis G.O. guided me to a chair and handed me a heart-shaped scrap of cloth and a threaded needle. He wrapped a red silk scarf around my eyes and then pushed Fred over my knees so that Fred's rear faced the audience. At the M.C.'s signal, we female halves of the three chump couples revealed our total lack of skill at blind-appliqué. The guys yelped when stuck, and the audience cheered. The sadism applause meter gave second place to Fred and me for that event.
Humiliation escalated with the break-dancing contest. Fred got down on the floor and tried to spin around on his back. I blushed ten degrees of flame red while I tripped over my tangled moon walking feet. Couple Number 3 sagged to third place.
I wasn't overjoyed to see the blindfold coming my way again. But this time I carried the victory and won first place for wrapping Fred like a mummy in toilet paper.
Then Fred shook and shimmied in a grass skirt for second place in the hula dance competition.
My face ached from the self-conscious grin stretched from cheek to cheek. What could possibly come next?
Balloons. Each patsy girl had to run the full length of the stage and plop down on a balloon in her guy's lap. I ran as fast as I could and pounced with all my might. I bounced. The other couples' bursting balloons popped and banged like fireworks. The audience roared. The M.C. insisted that I try again. I sprinted across the stage and plunked harder. I ricocheted higher. Same result on my third try. Oh, the shame of it.
At the end of the Couples Contest, the M.C. awarded second place to Couple Number 3 and gave free drinks to all the contestants. For future show-nights at Club Med, Fred and I took care to sit behind our friends, not in front of them. ###
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