First nights. They have always been a challenge for us. Long before Tom was dubbed Antler Man and I discovered I liked to play in the dirt, we took a trip to the Bahamas and began what has become a long string of first nights to chat about.
There was our one night honeymoon at the O’Hare Marriott forty years ago, when a champagne cork ricocheted off the walls around 4 am, and the window washer who later dropped in for breakfast.
Dare I mention our first night on Maui when we got lost on Kanapali Beach, the late night show with the hula girl, and the shot in the dark?
How about Heather and Andrews wedding, which was a joy to behold, 15 years ago? The night before the nuptials, we had a trip to the ER from Hell, not to mention the three times management had to be called to open the door to our suite.
A year after our honeymoon, 39 years ago, we jumped at the opportunity to share a condo for a week in the Bahamas with friends. The price was right and we were raring to go, even if we had to fly over the Bermuda Triangle to do it.
Our first clue should have been when we went to visit the owners of the condo and get the key. It was the 90 minute slide presentation of the mister’s snorkeling adventures that foreshadowed something amiss.
We all worked the day our adventure began; suitcases packed and stowed in our cars for a quick ride to the airport and a late afternoon flight south. The plane was packed with mostly college students, already “two sheets to the wind”, loud, undisciplined, etc. It was 1973. The world was being tilted on its axis, but, airplanes still had a certain cache. Meals were rolled to your seat by well coiffed stewardesses in uniforms, there were no security checks, one wore one’s shoes before boarding, the pillows were free and one felt safe.
As dusk descended across the Atlantic, we landed at the small Bahamian airport. Our luggage retrieved, we headed out to find our economy rental car. Just as the key turned in the door of the Volkswagon Beetle, the lights were turned off at the airport. Closing time. We came in on the last flight. No problem. A map (a real map), and the four of us, loaded down with our Samsonite look-alikes, a large, portable hairdryer, food, swimsuits, and Easter eggs, we squeezed inside! We were like the Ricardo and Mertzes, Ricky and Fred up front, Lucy and Ethel in back. Tom drove with my hairdryer in his lap, working the clutch with his long legs jammed into the steering wheel, his 6 foot 4 frame pushing the roof of the car. We needed the windows opened, not to smell the balmy air. No. We needed the extra room!
We stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. Off we went, around and around in what seemed to be a circle. Actually, it was a circle. They were toying with us, those station attendants! We figured that out sometime around our sixth lap. Finally, we found the complex where our condo was.
Like sardines in a tin, we crawled, squeezed, and maneuvered our bodies and bundles out of the car, while Jerry, who had the keys, opened the door and went in – then came out, shut the door, pale and shaken. “There are people sleeping in one of the bedrooms”. Did we have the right condo? Right key? Didn’t they hear the door open? Were they even alive? We commiserated, four northern souls in a balmy parking lot, wondering what to do. We decided to ring the doorbell.
A man came out, all tousled from sleep. Huh? As we explained that he was sleeping in our condo, we heard a pop as all the lights went out on the island.
It’s hard to negotiate in the dark of night when wearing one’s bathroom slippers – or has just spent hours flying and circling in a VW bug.
It seems there was a mixup from our scuba diving landlord (I told you those slides were foreboding) and the slumbering couple had the condo for a few more days.
All’s well that ends well, I always say, and this story does end well. The two sleeping beauties had another key to a one room unit, where we slept the night, exhausted, on musty beds in the clothes we had traveled in, hoping that no tropical creatures were slinking about. Since the wife was more interested in gambling than sunning on the beach, she readily offered to hand over the keys so they could stay at the swank hotel. Since they would no longer need a car, the husband handed over the keys to his rental. A sleek mid-sixties white Cadillac with a red leather interior and foot long fins; a great white whale that made our second night and our island adventure swimmingly grand!
Thanks to Andra and her post a few days ago about opening a hotel room door to find a man fixing her bed for awakening this sleeping memory. You can find her post here.