Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Is This Real Life?

It was meant to be an innocent night. How could a night that started watching Virgin Island middle schoolers performing 'Godspell' turn into naked hot tubbing? This, I can tell you.

I met Loren three years ago in Italy. He had a trucker hat emblazoned in pink lettering, "I <3 Cats" and taught me how to order a cafe macchiatto, "Una cafe macchiatto, per favore!" Needless to say, we became quick friends. But as friendships made abroad tend to do, we limited ourselves to occasional Facebook messages and chats. Luckily, his photos of the USVI came up on my newsfeed while I was listening to Coldplay and inspired my move to St Thomas. (see first post for clarification)

Now, Loren was staying in St John, just a 20 minute ferry ride from where I was living in St Thomas (it should be noted that for islands named after saints, they are a haven for sinners) The ferry leaves conveniently on the hour, every hour so when I finished at work at 5, I hopped on the 6 o'clock ferry and was seated, watching the opening number of island kids, dressed as clowns by 7.

Since it seems everything runs on island time here, including children's productions, it wasn't until 10 that Loren and I were headed to the bar to grab a quick drink before the last ferry left at 11.

As we were playing one of my favorite games, Two Truths and a Lie, to help pick up where we left off three years ago, "I backpacked in SE Asia without a cell phone or guide book." Of course that was Loren's truth, I had to reach back into my adventurous Italian days and tell him about getting in cars with strangers. And just like my writing now, we lost track of time and direction and then it was 11:10 pm. The ship had sailed and there was now a Caribbean straight between me and a decent bedtime.

There might be lack of electricity, money, morals and water at times on the islands, but there is never a lack of booze. In the small area of Cruz Bay there are at least 10 bars open until 4 am that are happy to "island" pour you Painkillers and Bushwackers until you're certain that any place that could hold this much alcohol must be the right place for you. Loren and I flitted between a Spanish bar that I'm certain was in someone's garage and doubled as a stripper's joint during the day and a literal shack above someone else's house that served only Red Stripe and 40 different flavors of Cruzan rum. We shut down the place at 4 am and bumped into a fellow teacher on the island who gave us a ride back to Loren's place.

Now, I try to drink responsibly, if the days in my sorority taught me anything, it's that I'm useless hungover and large glasses of water between drinks are my saving grace. So when we got back to Loren's, I was more sleepy and almost anxious at the fact that I had to be a fully functioning Activities Director at 9 am, than drunk. But not Loren and his gaggle of fellow drama teachers.

They were as naked as the day they were born within 5 minutes of walking in the door and into the hot tub. I've been around nude people before, I used to be on the high school swim team, I've even been known to get nude in public before, but that was after large amounts of alcohol and running were involved. So a dilemma presented itself, do I get naked, jump in the hot tub and join this random drunk Americans in the USVI party or do I demurely sit on the side, dangle my legs in the water and advert my eyes as much as possible from the nipples and peens peaking out of the hot tub and highlighted by the full moon. Don't worry mom, I chose the latter.

I sat until I literally couldn't keep my eyes open, then found an empty palm tree patterned couch and fell asleep for three hours until I caught the first ferry back to my "real life," playing Bingo with guests at a 4 star resort.

That is how a middle school production of 'Godspell' had me hanging out with naked people in a hot tub at 4 am. God bless the USVI.

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