The Epicentre of Nice
I think I’ve found the friendliest place on Earth - Harbour Island, Bahamas. I’m here for a week on vacation with my family, and since landing in North Eleuthera yesterday afternoon, it’s been nothing but island hospitality.
Take Wallace, for example, our cab driver from the North Eleuthera airport to the water taxi station. He found out we were from Canada, and proceeded to tell us that, in his honest opinion, Torontonians are the nicest people in the world. Given the fact that I am the only member of my family who actually lives in Toronto and, by the rest of Canada’s standards, that makes me a huge jerk, it was nice to get a little praise for once for being from the New York City of the Great White North.
After a quick water taxi ride to Harbour Island, we met up with Reggie, the cabbie who took us from the dock to our rented beach house. He gave us a map and walked us through how to get just about everywhere we’d need to go on this tiny island, identifying several key landmarks along the way so we wouldn’t get lost - you know, like our local grocery store, the Piggly Wiggly.
As he drove, we passed a local kid who flashed us a toothy smile and gave us a wave. I thought to myself, “Hey, that kid must be filming a Harbour Island tourism commercial. He’s really got that camera-ready smile/wave combo down pat; where’s the crew?” But then we passed another kid, and another, and several more after that, each of them waving and smiling their little hearts out. I felt like I was in some kind of World Vision ad, only the Bahamas isn’t a third world country, and as far as I knew, I wasn’t sponsoring any of these kids - they were just being genuinely nice.
Our beach house has a housekeeper, Andrea, who was just finishing up when Reggie dropped us off. Her level of pleasantness can be measured by the fact that to her, “finishing up” the housework meant cutting fresh flowers and placing them in each of our rooms - lovely. We thanked her, dropped our bags, and headed out on our golf cart to pick up groceries and, more importantly, booze. The first stop was the liquor store, where we were advised that we would be fined should any of us be found driving the golf cart without a beer in hand. This really is my kind of place.
Though we plan on cooking most of our own meals, Dad made a reservation at one of the island’s fancier restaurants for dinner last night. From the hostess, to the bar staff, to the waitresses who made a point of triple checking on my sister’s peanut allergy, the employees at The Landing could not have made us feel more welcome, and on top of that, the food and drinks were fabulous.
After dinner we were all plied with liquor, but my sister seemed the least inebriated so she whipped off her glittery high heels and got behind the wheel of the golf cart to drive us home.
It’s safe to say that we probably should have listened a little more carefully when Reggie was pointing out some of the key landmarks on the island, as we got lost no less than five times, and cut off at least that many other golf carts on the road as we wound our way home. But, no matter how many people we nearly hit or blinded with our flashlight (yes, we packed a flashlight in the golf cart in the event that, for some reason, it didn’t have headlights), everyone just laughed and waved us along.
I’ve been researching some of the bars on the island as my sister and I are looking to have a few nights out while we’re here, and aside from Gusty’s, which is a popular tourist destination, I think we’re going to have to hit up the Vic-Hum Club. Why? Well, if for no other reason than the fact that it’s owned by a guy who goes by the name of Humphrey “Hitler” Percentie Jr. I’m interested to see what a dude from the nicest place I’ve ever been who goes by the name of, arguably, the most evil man to ever live, is like. Also, I’ve heard that the Vic-Hum Club is home to the Bahamas’s (and possibly the world’s) largest coconut, measuring 33 inches in diameter, and the 4-H nerd in me really wants to check it out!
I don’t have a grown up’s liquor cabinet. In fact, I don’t even have a dedicated cupboard to put my liquor in; why bother when a bottle doesn’t last longer than a night in my house? I suppose this is also a sign of not being a proper adult - that is, buying booze on an as-needed (read: binge drinking) basis. Surely as I close in on age twenty-six, it’s about time I started to amass a fine collection of spirits, to be housed behind glass and sipped after a long day at the office, rather than pulled from a paper bag and pounded while attempting to apply liquid eyeliner for a night out.
So, I’m embarking on a ten week challenge because, really, everything’s more fun when it’s put in challenge form. Each week I’ll have no more than $30 to spend on a bottle for my “cabinet.” (Keep in mind that the quotes are because I still don’t own the actual piece of furniture - minor detail). At the end of the ten weeks, my goal is to have a beginner bar that, if nothing else, is diverse enough in alcohol content to chase a shot of whisky with a Long Island Iced Tea.
In no particular order, here are the types of booze I’m after. As the weeks pass, I’ll be posting on what brands I bought, why I bought them, what they cost, and my preferred method of drinking them:
1. Triple Sec
He’ll Have a Water, I’ll Have a Wine
An interesting question came up in conversation the other night - would you date a guy who didn’t drink? For the sake of not looking like a judgmental alcoholic, I made sure to take a contemplative pause, complete with reflective stare, before responding with an unequivocal, “no.” In an effort to reassure myself that my answer wasn’t entirely outlandish, I’ve since shopped the question around to some of my closest girlfriends, all of whom agree.
I should preface things by saying that I truly don’t care what someone does or does not put in their body. Life is a series of choices, each made for personal, professional, or health-related reasons and, ultimately, it’s unfair to judge someone for the choices that they’ve made based on your own view of what is or isn’t appropriate. That being said, just because I’m not judging someone, doesn’t mean that I have to teetotal with them.
Over the years, I’ve had several friends who abstain from drinking. Some are completely straight edge, while others have different (often more expensive, messy, dangerous, etc.) vices. As friends, these people’s choices have little effect on me and truly aren’t my business.* It’s not as if I live with them, sleep with them, or contemplate someday raising a family with them. They’re friends, and hey, sometimes their preference for regular Coke over rum and Coke means I don’t have to pay for a cab ride home at the end of the night, or worse, take public transit. Win!
However, when it comes to selecting a potential mate, all I can think is that I really don’t want to have an apple juice toast at my wedding. There’s just something inherently good about being able to go out and knock back a few with the one that you love (and subsequently rot together in hangover hell the next day). I’m by no means a huge drinker, but I enjoy an evening or two out a week, and with that usually comes some beverages. What’s odd is that for as much as I say that I wouldn’t judge someone for not drinking, I worry that I would be the subject of judgement should I date someone whose preference for mock over cock (tails, that is) rivals my preference for water over soda as a mix.
I suppose I’ve set up a double standard here in assuming that the no-judgement street wouldn’t go both ways, but so be it. Whether or not that judgement actually exists, I know I would feel self-conscious going on a date with someone if their idea of getting drinks involved free refills. And so, gentlemen, if you don’t enjoy the occasional beer or a scotch on the rocks, I’m afraid you need not apply.**
*That being said, if a friend was making incredibly bad choices on a consistent basis like, say, doing lines off a hooker’s ass while having heroin injected through his/her toenails and participating in a massive, unprotected orgy, I’d probably step up and say “Hey, so have you heard about that great A&E show, Intervention? I hear they’re casting.”
**Yes, I realize how presumptuous that sounds, as if I have a line of suitors waiting for the chance to squire me about town. A girl can dream.