Sunday, April 30, 2006
This is the third and last installment in the Connecticut Cruisers trilogy.
We had some misgivings about bringing our families to Orient Beach because we heard it was clothing-optional. We’re a pretty conservative group (and we had our children with us) so we wanted to keep our bathing suits on. We did a little research and discovered that the beach had a nude side and a prude side. So as not to be embarrassed, families could choose to go to the prude side. We thought this a splendid solution and piled in a taxi at the St. Maarten docks.
Our taxi, which was actually a van, climbed narrow dirt roads on the Dutch side of the island, past small pastel colored homes and several roadside fruit and vegetable stands. As we crossed into St. Martin, the French side of the island, we discussed our trepidations about exposing our children to a hedonistic beach and we worried about causing some kind of Freudian damage to their little minds.
As we pulled into the Orient Beach parking lot our Taxi driver spoke:
“ I’m not one to judge mon,”he said,” but I don’t understand why all dese people come all dis way to spend dere vacations in dere birtday suits.”
All the men in the van chuckled like 6th graders.
“ Now mon, If you want ta let it all hang out, you go to da right,” said our driver, “through dis hotel. I’ll drop you off right dere.”
“ I’m not one to judge, mon.”He repeated.
“Now if you folks is a little more modest,” he continued, “then you can go to the left side… or the ‘prude’ side as they call it”
We told the driver that… yes; in fact we were prudes and would like to go to the beach on the left.
“That’s good,” he said, “I know all da cabana boys over dere, and I’ll get you good deals on the beach chairs.”
We followed our driver across the parking lot to a small wooden hut at the edge of the white sand beach. It was there that he introduced us to Ludwig, our cabana boy.
Ludwig looked like a tanned, blond haired, blue-eyed California surfer dude and we were a little surprised to hear him speak with a German accent. The only bit of clothing he wore was a pair of brown cargo shorts that hung from his thin frame and a strand of puka shells that he had around his neck. He waited on his customers shirtless to better display his six-pack abs, which assured him good tips from the ladies (and by the looks of it, some men too!) He made what I professed to be my eye-candy, look like an eyesore.
While Ludwig was positioning our chaise lounges on the beach, we looked around and noticed that half the women on our “prude side” were topless. “I guess the Caribbean definition of “prude” differs from the American one,” I said.
My wife caught me staring at a woman in front of us who obviously had breast implants. I knew I was busted because I got her, “stop leering” look. I recognized this look from 13 years earlier, when we (before kids) were on vacation in Aruba. One day a topless woman lay in front of us at the beach. When she got up on all fours to adjust her blanket, her breasts, which resembled two long water balloons, dangled and began swaying back and forth like a hypnotist’s pocket watch. My eyes soon glazed over, and I couldn’t help but stare straight ahead at her swinging pendulums. It was then my wife gave me “the look.”
Ludwig served drinks, while the men stood and enjoyed the scenery. The ladies were slathering sunscreen on their daughters while two island women wove cornrows in their poker straight hair. The boys, who were all around eight years old, were busy building sandcastles and totally oblivious to what was going on around them.
I tend to get restless sitting in one place too long, so I asked a fellow dad if he wanted to go for a walk along the beach. After strolling for a while we came to the infamous clothing optional sign, a virtual Mason/Dixon line of modesty (some might say morality). We opted for clothing and crossed into unknown territory. It is said that on nude beaches, the people who are nude shouldn’t be…and the people who should be nude, aren’t. As if to prove this point, the first nude person we ran into was an obese woman in her sixties. Let’s just say that gravity has not been kind to her. A few feet away from her stood six bikini-clad college co-eds who were posing for a photo with a 50-something man whose only bit of attire was a Panama hat. As we walked on we saw naked surfing, naked fishing and (most disturbing) naked Frisbee.
It was time to leave.
When we returned to our beach chairs, the rest of our group reported that they had seen several old naked men walking past. My wife snapped a photo of one of these men's behind as he was waiting to be served at an outdoor café. His gluteous maximus was now more of a gluteous minimus and when he turned around and displayed his shriveled “package,” our whole group burst into laughter.
This is why the Connecticut Cruiser kids now refer to Orient Beach as Wiener Beach.