Part One: Donuts, Margaritas and Waistcoats
Part Two: Airports, Adoption and the Kindness of Strangers
Part Three: Binkies, Babes and Bathtubs
Part Four: Carbs, Catamarans and Cast Away
Part Five: Baronesses, Orations and Foreign Gems
Part Six: Mushroom Brains, Front Naps and Tuna Smashing
Part Seven: Entree, Main Course and Dessert
Part Eight: Periodicals, Pool Hops and Australian Units
Part Nine: Prostitutes, Punking and Proposals
Part Ten: Balloons, Perverts and Tequila
We’ve spent the morning beside the pool, guzzling beer and knocking back tequila in the sun. Now that our hotel room is finally ready, we’re standing at reception in our wet togs with towels wrapped around our waists. Our shoulders are slumped, our eyelids are heavy and our feet are bare. For some reason our morning schedule of ‘sitting down and looking at people’ has sapped our energy.
Our mood picks back up when we’re a golf cart arrives to drive us to our room. Despite Annie’s loud and persuasive arguments, our porter doesn’t let her drive it, but he does hoon around corners and splash through puddles while we all squeal and scream with delight.
Our new room has a balcony with two chairs and a lounger, all topped with squishy fabric squabs. Feeling like we should start repaying some of Alan’s hospitality, we offer to fix him a rum and coke. Annie pours us all drinks, using her standard ratio of 1:1, and we sit outside, munching on potato chips. Our room has a pristine and tranquil ocean view, with no people for miles, and I’m immediately bored with it. I get out my travel journal and start listing all the things that I’ve diagnosed myself with since arriving in Fiji.
I’m halfway through listing what I assume are the symptoms for gluten intolerance when Annie grabs the book off me and turns to a blank page. She writes “penis”, “BNE” and “bitches”, each word in quote marks formed from perfect miniature sixes and nines. She hands the journal back and leans back in her chair with a smug, self-satisfied expression, as if her one chore for the day is over.
Guessing she’s bored too, I fetch the Bible from the desk, turning to random pages to see if it will tell our fortune. We get three passages that none of us understand and decide that today probably isn’t the day to turn to a higher power.
I pour us more drinks, trying to outdo Annie’s ratio by filling mugs with cheap rum then adding a dash of coke. We return to an earlier discussion about men, ignoring the fact that Alan is shifting awkwardly in his chair. Earlier this year Annie went on a few dates with a guy who had the most fascinating bottom, a truly feminine curved posterior, and I was lamenting the fact that they’d broken up before she’d seen it without clothes. For some reason this makes Alan think I’m a lesbian, but I explain that it’s not even that I liked the bottom, I just wanted to know everything about it. Was it really that convex, or was it his tailoring? Was it a different colour to the rest of him? Was it muscular? Squishy?
Life is starting to look a bit fuzzy around the edges. Our second drinks have quite a kick to them, my hand is chafed from squeezing it into the Pringles tube, and I’ve been talking animatedly about a stranger’s bottom for the past ten minutes.
I abandon bottoms and make a pitch in favour of back hair, which is immediately dismissed by Annie & Alan. Annie then leaves us speechless as she outlines her very specific preferences in regards to men’s personal, um, grooming.
Turns out, there are only so many times I can hear the word ‘nutsack’ before I need a lie down. Either that, or it’s the beer and the tequila and the rum and the entire tube of Pringles I’ve accidentally managed to consume. Regardless of the cause, all I can manage to do is crawl into my huge white bed and groan. All I can taste is artificial Pringle cheese curdled with the leftover yeastiness of the beer. The Pringles are threatening to file back up out of my throat, and I worry that once I pop I won’t be able to stop.
“Are you ok?” asks Annie, and I mumble “ice chips” at her, figuring that they give them to pregnant women, and with my distended belly and nausea, the only thing I’m really missing is the fetus.
The ice nuggets are comfort and medicine all in one, the cold pebbles cutting through my sweaty sickness. I chew through half a bucket of them and pass out.
Monday 24 September
I wake up, thrilled to be still alive after my Pringles nightmare, but horrified that I’ve slept through our last night in Fiji. Annie assures me she had a great night with room service steak and a book, but this hardly seems fitting for a send-off, and so I resolve to make our last day here a good one.
The breakfast buffet starts at 9.30am and we’re there on time. The spread is equally as impressive as our first resort, with endless tables of options. I take note of the bowl of hash browns immediately, while Annie spies a bucket of bottles of sparkling wine. “Bubbles? At breakfast? Is this a thing?” she asks.
Twenty minutes later and I have sampled a little bit of everything. Eggs fried and scrambled, sausages, bacon, the aforementioned hash browns, baked beans, pancakes, pastries, yoghurt, berries and cereals (plural). A waiter has brought an entire pot of coffee to our table. I sip it and consider what I want seconds of, while Annie inhales the free wine.
It takes me until this morning to realise that we’re both enabling each other. I’m fetching Annie multiple glasses of bubbles, she’s shrugging and saying “you can probably fit in another pancake stack”. It’s like the trope of the devil and an angel popping up on the shoulders of a hapless hero. The only problem is that we have no angel here to push us towards the light. On this holiday, and yes, probably back home, we are both each other’s bad influence devils.
An hour later, I’m reaching the bottom of the coffee pot – yes, an entire pot – and Annie is almost horizontal on her chair. Breakfasts closes in five minutes and we mutually agree that we have time for more – I’ve got my eye on some croissants and Annie wants more bubbles. I ask how many she’s had and she narrows her eyes at the glass, as if she’s waiting for it to tell her. After a moment she looks back at me and says “this is number … nine”.
We fetch our final courses. I get five mini almond croissants, making a big show of “saving some for later”, and Annie pretends that she believes me. She gets two more glasses of bubbles, planting one in front of me, and I pretend that I might drink it instead of handing it to her after she’s finished the first. A waiter walks past with a pile of plates in his arm and he calls out, “ma’am, would you just like the rest of the bottle?”
Annie does an exaggerated shrug in an poor attempt at looking sober and casual. “Um, ok! Wouldn’t want it to go to waste!”
Ten minutes later and my pot of coffee is drained, I can feel pastries clogging my throat, and Annie is very carefully pouring bubbles into her glass. “This is definitely going to be the best eleventh glass of bubbles I’ve ever had”, she announces.
The bubbles have filled her with energy and enthusiasm, and she repeatedly whips up and down in her chair with epiphanies and memories of our previous adventures that she desperately has to share. At one point she leans over so she’s resting on two legs of her chair, her mouth wide open and eyebrows furrowed. “What?!” I ask, convinced she’s seen a celebrity. “Oh, sorry. I thought, I might have just seen someone! But then, I didn’t!”
This is largely how the next hour goes. She’s moved on from saying everything is the BNE, and instead is questioning everything’s status as a ‘thing’. “It’s the chef! On a cellphone! Is he a thing?”
We pick up yesterday’s conversation about men. I wonder whether it’s more important to find someone who makes you laugh or one who you can make laugh, but Annie’s watching a man across the room like a hawk, mumbling into her wine glass about arm muscles and abs.
She turns to me with a memory, saying, “I had a… I think it was a dream? And we were in a sauna, and this guy comes in with his girlfriend, and I go, she’s totally into you. Totally. About you. Because you were.”
I tell her it was just a dream, but she doesn’t seem to believe me, looking at me suspiciously over the top of her glass.
On her twelfth pour some slops over the side, and she looks equally surprised and embarrassed. She lowers her head to the table, announces, “I am NOT going to do a table suck”, and without pausing, slurps the spilled drink off the varnished wood.
She abruptly pulls her head away from the table, complaining that her eyes are “fuzzy in the corners”, illustrating this with little octopus tentacle actions at the sides of her head.
Thirteen glasses in, and she’s yelling about how blinking is ridiculous, complaining that it’s such a “stupid, mundane activity”. She looks at me accusingly, like I have some power over the blinking situation. I nod, which seems to satisfy her, and she pours the last few dregs from the bottle into her glass and slurps it down.
We pass the clock in the lobby, and I’m surprised to discover that we’ve only got six minutes left to pack and check out. “Should we run? Is this a thing?” Annie asks, but the pastries and eggs and coffee are all sitting like a brick in my stomach, and I’m conscious of what might happen if we shake the thirteen and a half glasses of bubbles in hers.
Back at the room, packing should be quick, but Annie is finding fascination with objects in her handbag and marvelling at how amazing keycards are, because Kate, seriously, it’s a card, but it is also a key, and this one has a butterfly on it!
I’m feeling like I want to crawl away from my own digestive system and she’s barely upright, so we call reception to ask if they can come pick us up in a golf cart. We lug our bags downstairs to wait. Annie uses this time wisely, drinking straight from the bottle of Malibu, declaring repeatedly that thirteen and a half glasses of bubbles is most definitely a thing.
Thirty seconds later a van comes roaring around the corner. It’s piloted by two men in matching polos and is filled with clean sheets in sealed plastic. They put our suitcases in the back and gesture down the path towards reception, but Annie has already clambered in the back after the bags. “Oh, dear, oh dear” one of them says, “please Miss, get in the front!”
Annie refuses to budge. I climb in after her and we sit in the back, our drivers laughing uproariously at the silly girls sitting with laundry. They drive us to reception, all four of us attacked by giggles, Annie yelling “faster, faster!” and slugging from the bottle of Malibu.
We’re at reception at ten past noon to check out. Ten past noon, and Annie’s had thirteen and a half glasses of bubbles and a quarter of a bottle of Malibu. “Ok”, she says “alcohol? It is definitely a thing”.
To be continued…