My wife raised her sunglasses,
slowly surveying the scene around her. When I was bumming around
Central America 15 years ago, I said Id never vacation at a Club
Med. And I said that no matter where I went, I would never just lie
around the pool. She took a sip of her mojito, lowered her
sunglasses and leaned back.
The scene my wife
had surveyed was the pool at the Club Med in Punta Cana, Dominican
Republic, and she did not seem bothered in the least by her
betrayal of her younger self. In fact, earlier that day she had
said this was one of her favorite spring break
Did she change, or
did Club Med? In truth, I think they met halfway: 15 years ago, she
could not have realized what would appeal to a parent with three
children, and 15 years ago, Club Med was perhaps dogged by a
Eurotrash singles-bar reputation.
My wifes change of
attitude was probably noticed only by herself, but the list of
things Ive said Id never do, and then did, is as ignominious as it
is long. An off-key (but heartfelt) karaoke performance of Oops, I
Did It Again is the least of my betrayals of my own
I didnt realize it
at the time, but I was to have some opportunities to lengthen the
list while at Club Med. The resorts kids programs are excellent,
and we were so reassured of our childrens well-being that we
actually found ourselves able to relax and take advantage of the
Look, 11 a.m. salsa
dancing lessons, my wife said. I hoped she couldnt see the fear in
my eyes. Early in our marriage, we had taken a salsa lesson that I
remember as a toe-stomping, graceless, arrhythmic disaster. It was
territory I had sworn never to visit again.
My wife, however,
was apparently willing to put her pedicure and my dignity on the
line once more. Perhaps it was the charm of our trilingual
instructor, Jhonny (one and two and three and cuatro y cinco y
seis et sept et huit et filles, turn!) or --
peut-etre -- maybe Ive developed una poca de
gracia along the way. Whatever the reason, we went every
morning for six consecutive days and did just fine.
The village also
featured the chance to learn circus arts, most dramatically on a
flying trapeze. My wife wanted to try it. I wished her well and
went off to snorkel.
That night at
dinner, it turned out that not only had my wife been up on the
trapeze that day, but so had my 13-year-old daughter and 5-year-old
After dessert, my
daughter asked me to go with her to check out what else was going
on in the village. In actuality, she knew what was going on: The
trapeze was open, and she wanted me to try it.
I told her no, but
she persisted. I reconsidered. I asked the people manning the
trapeze if it would be OK if I swung by my arms and dropped, rather
than hanging by my knees as everyone else was doing. No problem,
they said. I joined about a dozen children in line.
Once on the
platform, holding onto the trapeze, I reconsidered. Go! said the
assistant on the platform, for the second time. I pushed off and
started swinging. Go, Dad! I heard my daughters voice.
gave me an unwarranted surge of confidence, and I decided to try to
get my knees up and over the bar. I tried. And tried. The arc of
the trapeze kept getting shorter and shorter, and slower and
slower. I heard the voice of a little boy come clearly through the
night: He cant do it.
I felt an urge to
respond to the boy, but the response I had in mind would have meant
taking one hand off the trapeze. Instead I redoubled my efforts to
raise my legs above the now-motionless bar. And finally, I
succeeded. As for the backflip dismount I then attempted, the less
said the better.
I expected my
daughter to be embarrassed -- did I mention shes 13? -- but she
seemed pleased with my effort. And for the rest of our stay,
parents congratulated me in three languages.
Ill admit that I,
too, felt that a Club Med vacation might not be for me -- when on
vacation, I tend to focus on culture and nature rather than
packaged activities. In the end, it was the activities I was most
sure Id never do that made the trip memorable. Im impressed with
Club Med. Its one thing to meet me halfway; its quite another to
know that the things I would never dream of doing are the things
that would make me the happiest.