Lately, there’s been a lot of romance in the island air. Weddings, new relationships, hook-ups … they’ve all crossed my radar in recent months.
In that last case, all I can say is, gotta love the coconut telegraph, right? (No, dear girl-who-thinks-she-is-all-discreet…your fling with the married guy was anything but tactful. People know. The bartender knows. The cashier at the store knows. Hell, even the reclusive writer on the hill knows. At this point, possibly the only one who doesn’t know is his wife. And that’s only because she’s off-island right now. And nobody wants to tell her via WhatsApp.)
And it got me thinking about the types of relationships one tends to find on rocks. Because if there’s one universal truth on an island, it’s this…
All those balmy Caribbean nights, filled with starry skies, rustling palms, copious amounts of rum and lots of skin, start people thinking about one thing…sex. And all that thinking combined with the abandonment of all inhibitions that also comes along with island life (hey, it happens) leads inevitably to the proverbial “island hook-up.” Where the hook-up goes after one night in paradise is anybody’s guess. But it usually end in one of three ways:
Category A – Matrimony (not immediately, obviously…but eventually)
Category B – A budding romance (which may, or may not, graduate to Category A)
Category C – The walk (or flight) of shame home
The interesting thing is that you can often predict the outcome of an island fling. How? By understanding who it is doing the dirty, island-style.
The Island Newbie – Young, lithe and fresh off the plane (or boat), these are those beautiful creatures that make island life look so appealing. They’re the ones Instagramming themselves in bikinis or boardshorts, doing exactly what you’d imagine pretty things in their prime, usually their early 20s, would be doing during their temporary time on a Caribbean island.
They’re here to have fun, meet new people and…let’s get real…have sex. While occasionally, two like-minded Island Newbies connect on a rock and develop a budding romance (Category B), usually their island-style flings rarely lead to anything other than fun memories. Squarely putting them in Category C.
The Desperate Housewife – Ok, to be fair, it could be a desperate househusband. But from my personal observations, this individual is usually a woman. And she is desperate. She arrives on the island on a vacation, usually with her husband (at least for that first visit). She immediately discovers that everything wrong in her life (her marriage, her job, the disappointing choices her children have made), can be solved with a few rum punches and a fling with her scuba instructor, the snorkel boat captain or the bartender who keeps serving her all those delicious umbrella drinks with a smile and a wink.
So she embarks on an odyssey that may be just a vacation fling or turn out to be a life-changing event. She doesn’t really care, because damn she is really having fun. All the attention! She feels 20 again!! The problem is that these flings are usually (always?!) with the next category of island dweller, and these “relationships” always, always, always end up in Category C. (No matter how much she wants to believe that permanently moving to the rock will result in a dramatic life improvement and a cozy, long-term relationship with her island fling. Hahahahahaha.)
The Rock Player – These guys (let’s be honest, they’re always guys), originally arrived on the rock as hot young dudes, totally buff and blessed with rugged good looks. Throw in the obligatory island tan and these boys are the thing island girl fantasies are made of. And they know it. And use it to their advantage. The flood of Island Newbies and Desperate Housewives arriving fresh on the island each week are the all-you-can-eat buffet. And these guys have very large appetites.
Unfortunately, they often don’t know when to call it quits. After all, the lifestyle is so … delicious (and, yes, shallow…but these boys aren’t exactly thinking with their heads). Yet there’s nothing more desperate than an aging Rock Player. You’ll recognize him immediately. He’s the guy still flirting with you on the dive boats or leering at you over the bar, grey chest hairs poking out of a half-unbuttoned shirt, straining to conceal a protruding beer belly. It’s not pretty, but every rock has one. Or seven. Rock Player hook-ups universally end in Category C (with their unwitting partners doing all the shame walking, as Rock Players have no shame. Ever.)
The Wizened Rock Dweller – These are the people who have been on the island awhile, and have the battle scars to prove it. Maybe they arrived as part of a couple. Perhaps they are still coupled. Maybe the original relationship imploded after arrival. Or they came here single and ready to mingle, but quickly realized that most island relationships are anything but deep. (They probably made the mistake – before they knew better – of hooking up with The Rock Player.) Either way, they have a few flings under their belt and maybe even a few serious relationships. Hell, they also might have started rock life as any of the above (yes, even a Rock Player can reform … I’ve seen it first-hand. Once. I swear!).
Whatever their current relationship status, they now see island life for what it is and know that good reputations are hard earned and easily lost. So they live life on the down low. If they’re hooking up, they are either in a committed relationship (and, hopefully, doing it with their stated partner) or choosing their friends-with-benefits wisely. While they might consider a fling with The Island Newbie, they definitely avoid The Desperate Housewife and The Rock Player. There’s no gossip about these folks, either. And their hook-ups, when they have them, usually end in either Category A or B.
So there you have it. An unofficial guide to analyzing rock relationships. Now that you know the “whos” and “whats” of the island romance scene, let me leave you with one last piece of advice…
Islands are really, really, really tiny places. No matter what you do – or who you do it with – somebody will know your business. And once somebody knows…everybody knows.
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Also published on Medium.