Story of Cantaloupes, Part 1 of 3: Honeymoon

Life hands you lemons and optimists tell you to make lemonade.

What if it hands you a cantaloupe? Juice that, asshole.

But I get ahead of myself.

Speaking of cantaloupes, I had some really nice ones while honeymooning in Montego Bay, Jamaica. How was the honeymoon besides the indigenous melons?

Squeezable Companion any I rented a car. In spite of several internet sites warning travelers against it, we rented it because I can’t sit in a resort for five days without going stir crazy.

On the way to the city center with our rental, we were accosted by a man on a bicycle who introduced himself by saying, “Remember me from the rental agency?”

We rented a car from a woman who met us at the hotel.

He asked us where we were headed. We told him we were going to the supermarket. The resort was incredibly inexpensive. Ridiculously expensive. Over the course of five days and five nights, we ended up racking up $900 and never did we see a steak on our plate or enjoy a visit with the masseuse. The trip to the supermarket ended up doing little to alleviate the strain on our credit cards.

Follow me, he said. With the traffic, foot and car, being dense and unpredictable, we followed him. He led us to a supermarket. There he found us parking and while he walked us to the door, he said to me, “Don’t worry. Nothing bad will happen to you. You are tourists and tourism is our main resource. Don’t worry.”

The words “Don’t worry” from a complete stranger who starts off your acquaintance with a bald faced, racist lie (racist because he counted on the assumption that if you’re not black, if you’re Asian and white like me and SC, than you can’t differentiate one black person from another, evidenced by the line, “Remember me?”) has the same effect on me as someone saying “Trust me”: I do to the former and I don’t to the latter.

He told us to take our time with the shopping and he’ll be waiting right here. That didn’t reassure me. And true to his word, he was waiting for us. Once back in the car, SC was prepared to give him a tip and that would be that. We figured we got a lemon, unwittingly and successfully accosted by a liar, but we made the most of it by getting parking and some sound navigation around the narrow, bustling streets.

Then he made his move and offered drugs. When we declined, he rose off in his bike saying “Follow me,” with no way for us to keep up with him in the rush hour traffic. “Trust me,” he’d said.

These invitations for drugs recurred on the beach at Negril the following day where for five minutes SC declined time and again to a man so insistent that SC was sure we would have been robbed if there hadn’t been other people on the beach.

At a restaurant parking lot, a man used that same line–“Remember me?”–and this time we told him no, we did not remember him.

When we missed an exit and pulled over to the side of the road, not five second passed before someone came out of nowhere and asked us where we were going and asked if he could get a ride up the street to his home.

While driving around Negril, a man in a scooter rode up alongside us and offered to escort us to where we were headed. We told him that was no that was irie.

The gas station attendant tried to rip us off by putting premium gas into a cheap-ass Toyota rental and then choking the hell out of the pump to just eke out a few more bucks out of our wallets.

The last straw for me was when a woman jumped in front of our car in the middle of heavy traffic, pulled out a notepad and pencil and started to write down our license plate while giving us wide eyed looks of daring and warning: “I dare you to run over me because I warn you I will make you pay for it.” By this point I was so exasperated with the hustlers that when I saw an opening I started to drive forward imagining, perhaps, that her head was a cantaloupe and the car was a bat.

She moved aside just enough so I could get through, but not before sticking her leg out, which I ended up striking with the car. A dull thud on the passenger side made me curse this cursed country.

“You just hit a pedestrian, babe.”

“I know. It feels great. Oh God, do you think we’ll get arrested?”

In fairness, I will say that the Jamaicans we ran into (haha) were friendly for the most part. Aggressively friendly.

What about the resort? The service at the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall was outstanding. Everyone was impeccably trained. The thing I looked forward to the most was the slices of cantaloupes served at the breakfast buffet. I mean these cantaloupes were some of the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. I piled up my plate with these slices of honeyed orange flesh every morning like they were about to go out of style.

But the beach at the resort was full of debris and tiny for a resort of that size. The prepared food was middling and ludicrously overpriced. And there were far too many children running around. I’m due to have a kid of my own in a few months, but I don’t care for other people’s children, certainly not ones screaming and pissing in the pool while I’m on my honeymoon.

Still, SC and I had fun. But the honeymoon served a purpose beyond just fun. What purpose, you ask?

Well, I could say it filled a need to immerse in each other’s company after his hectic schedule. To have lots of sex and spend inordinate amounts of time together and get used to the idea of being married.

Or a healing moment from real life, its demands and distractions such as marriage preparations, that may have put a distancing strain on the relationship. I’ve heard this happens to some couples.

Or to give two people time to create a life raft, something they’re going to need to weather the storms that will test the strength of their vows and shape their marriage.

Or an investment into the bank account of affection that will endure hefty withdrawals when shit hits the fan–and the shit will hit the fan as it inevitably does–and one or both parties will invariably think I can’t believe I married this jackass.

Given that fifty percent of marriages in the US end in divorce, I have to wonder at the sturdiness of some couples’ (mine included), life rafts or the balance on their marriage accounts (is there an app for that?) What did they build while they were on their honeymoon? And did they deposit sand? Is the idea of the honeymoon serving a purpose beyond fun a misguided search for deeper meaning in fun? Probably.

Anyways, what were we talking about? Oh yes, lemons and lemonade versus cantaloupes. More on that tomorrow in Story of Cantaloupes, Part 2 of 3: Easter Ovaries.

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