R. and I accompanied the Grape on a recent long weekend trip to Bermuda - a charming destination rendered fabulous by the availability of a direct, ninety minute flight that does not depart before dawn.
The Grape thoroughly enjoyed his vacation. So much so that he woke at 5:30 every morning, yelling "BEACH! BEACH!" from the creaky hotel crib. He was the first customer at breakfast every morning of our stay. Surely there should be some award for that. Relaxing, our trip was not. While last year the Grape napped in the shade of his infant beach tent and I plowed through four novels, this year I managed a grand total of four pages while the Grape and R. checked out a beached kayak.
We also ate quite a bit of room service, as our little early bird crashed out during the prime dinner hour. And we discovered a wonderful amenity - the hotel babysitter. Twice, R. and I dined like civilized adults while the Grape ate room service pizza and read bedtime stories with a delightful local grandmother conjured up by the concierge.
One the whole, our trip was a lot of fun. We had great weather, and once the Grape got over his initial apprehension of the ocean, he was a like a lemming to the water. We all returned home thoroughly salt scrubbed, and I haven't played in the waves so much since I was a little kid. The Grape found boundless joy in banal things like the resort's trolley, which ferried us up and down a steep road to the shore. Pre-Grape, R. and I might have enjoyed the scenic walk, but since we found ourselves schlepping approximately sixty pounds of the Grape's beach gear, we were all about the bus.
Really, my only complaint about our trip concerns a large contingent of the hotel's clientele.
We visited the same property, the Fairmont Southampton, last year. We decided to return because the hotel was so welcoming of families with small children. Evidently, they also welcome corporate junkets - the kind designed to award productive salespeople. Our hotel was heavily populated with families sponsored by the State Farm Insurance Company. One breakfast waiter informed us that the company rotates groups in and out every weekend for five or six weeks, and they seem to go by region. During our stay, we bade goodbye to a largely very nice group of midwesterners and hello to several busloads of very loud Texans, most of whom sounded an awful lot like a certain brush-hauling ex-president.
And when I say loud, I mean loud. I'm half Italian; I'm used to several enthusiastic people speaking at once. But the new arrivals' collective volume could only be described as remarkable.
Suddenly our family friendly little hotel beach, previously dotted with sandcastles and tots in floppy sun hats, was overrun by a bunch of grown men acting like frat boys. The kind of frat boys who run out to the package store and buy several cases of the cheapest available light beer, which they proceed to consume, double fisted, on the beach before ten in the morning. They smoked, the swore, they said derogatory things about women and they left litter in their wake.
They also made me feel a bit like my mother, as I herded my little angel away from these gangs of beer gutted high school heros somehow teleported from the late eighties.
My efforts were stymied by the boors' collective interest in conversing with us about the Grape. It turned out most of them lacked the ability to process a boy without a crew cut. I, on the other hand, cannot fathom why I would snip off locks that countless men and women would kill for, especially now that the Grape's hair has grown past the sheep dog stage and he can see where he's going.
"Boy or Girl?" one fat drunk man after another demanded. Really. This question has not come up anywhere else, and we haven't exactly kept the Grape locked in a box at home. He dresses in boy clothes and spends most of his waking hours clutching his favorite toy vehicles. When we replied, "Boy," we got a variety of responses, from "He sure is pretty. Don't you think he's too pretty?" to "You can't tell," all delivered in an accusing voice.
When one guy, sporting the same unfortunate crew cut worn by his buddies and no doubt inflicted by some one-trick barber, marched up to me in the lobby and demanded to know why I didn't cut the Grape's hair, I said, "It's the Jesus look. It's so hot right now in Milan."
He retreated to his wife, muttering about the nasty Yankee bitch's unfitness for child rearing.
In fairness, I will say the State Farm group from Texas included several lovely couples and families who appeared as appalled as I by their compatriots' behavior. Sadly, they were outnumbered by the meatheads. I suppose meatheads have a right to vacation, too, but is it too much to ask that they act like adults and leave the other hotel guests in peace?
Or have we reached the point in our society where standards don't exist, even in nice environs, because of fear of snobbery?
Seriously. It's a nice hotel. One that advertises its child-friendliness prominently and proudly. If they want to allow men in see-through mesh football jerseys in their lobby bar, I suppose that's their prerogative and they have business reasons for such an accommodation.
But R. shouldn't have to call security twice after one o'clock in the morning to complain about a keg party on a an adjacent balcony.
I love taking my son to the beach, and we enjoy visiting this property on the pink sands of Bermuda, but thanks to the junket goers, for the first time ever, R. and I were happy to pack up and head home.