Around 10:15 we finally boarded our 6am flight and left Nashville.
My first experience in First Class included more room, apple juice, a hot towel to erase the purple circles from underneath my eyes, and bagels with cream cheese. Not having to mingle with the peasants in coach was a pleasant change.
In Miami, Megan and I had a five-hour layover. We had a choice to make: either continue to mope and feel sorry for ourselves about the recent series of unfortunate events or accept them and enjoy ourselves ruthlessly.
Megan excels at “making lemonade.” When we decided to take an “Uncle Wiggily” one day—a term that my mom’s side of the family uses to describe a day trip—to Benton’s Country Hams and buy some of Allen Benton’s Smoked Country Bacon—imagine dragon’s breath or licking England in the 18th century and you get the idea—I got grouchy when patchy phone reception sabotaged my GPS. I’d made three or four wrongs turns and started to sweat. Megan intervened. She put a hand on my shoulder, locked my eyes with hers for a moment, and reframed the situation: “We’re on an adventure.”
I love her for this resilience. I always want things to go as planned, and I am often a victim of my expectations. My enthusiasm will wilt, my mood will sour, and I will settle into irritation and impatience as though I were preparing for a long journey on horseback. By contrast, Megan is much quicker to resolve, “This is where we are. These things happen. Nothing is perfect, but we can still have a lot of fun.” So we ate a long meal at one of the sit-down restaurants and explored the duty-free stores.
Duty-free stores operate like coupons: they lure you in with the prospect of saving money, taking home a bargain.
Restaurants have “loss leaders”—popular offerings on which they make less profit—but they would go out of business if coupons didn’t generate revenue. They might break even or even lose a few dollars on the sale of the specific item on the coupon, but nine times out of ten, your satisfaction with “saving money” will cause you to spend more on your entire purchase.
Though your Free Appetizer coupon saved you $7, you will order a more expensive entrée and splurge on extra beverages. You might even leave a bigger tip. On any other night, would you have even ordered an appetizer? If you had cooked dinner at home, you might have spent $30 on groceries and have enough leftovers for several more meals.
In other words, how much money would you have saved if you had ignored the coupon? $20? A $7 voucher ended up costing you twice the amount.
I’ll just go ahead and tell you that I’m a sucker for a deal. I’d been wanting to try a Kiehl’s Brushless Shaving Cream, so I began asking Maggie, the “Kiehl’s Expert,” about them. She was just sinking into her sales rhythm, batting her eyelashes and touching my arm, when Megan walked up. I could see the need for an audible register on her face, an almost imperceptible frown that meant, “Oh. Here’s the wifie. Now I can’t use my cleavage to make sale.”
I enjoyed watching Megan’s presence shut down the sales pitch and accompanying flirtation, which I found humorous because they were so predictable, like a Lifetime movie.
I never had any suspended disbelief, which in retail is more like the customer’s inflated belief in the saleswoman’s sincerity of attention and attraction to him.
Being a happily, very recently married man, I listened to the Kiehl’s Expert weaving her charms as though she were reading from a script, and the experience was similar to watching one of those old, badly dubbed Godzilla movies in which the words don’t fit the movements of the actors’ mouths.
I suppose she was just trying to do her job.
Megan wanted some hand salve, and I saved $3 by buying Kiehl’s shaving cream in duty-free. By buying nothing, I would have saved $13. Lesson learned: Duty-free stores won’t bankrupt Kiehl’s, Chanel, or Johnnie Walker
We finally boarded our 6:20pm flight to Providenciales, and I observed another strange perk to flying First Class: a flight attendant took our pre-takeoff drink orders.
No joke, the flight attendant on the Miami to Providenciales flight took our pre-takeoff drink orders. Lesson learned: True luxury means that I shouldn’t go half an hour without some kind of refreshment. I wish they would take it a step further and cut up my steak and inserted a catheter so I wouldn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom. I shouldn’t poke fun, but it’s good to know that I can live without some of the perks. Once the plane was in the air, he brought us gave warm nuts in little ramikins and more drinks. Megan thought he was flirting with me. I declined comment.
My friend Daniel likes to say that wedding cake decreasing a woman’s libido, but apparently, a wedding band increases a man’s attractiveness. Perhaps these two phenomena cancel out one another. And Megan ate an apple dumpling, not cake, at our wedding reception. We should be fine.
Six hours after we were to arrive, we touched down at Providenciales International Airport and made it through customs without a problem. We were relieved when the conveyor belt spit out all three of our checked bags. Outside, Ossie Virgil, taxi driver and fishing charter captain extraordinaire, was holding a sign for The Churches.
Strange. He wasn’t waiting for my parents.
Ossie drove us the fifteen minutes to The Tuscany on Grace Bay, and I asked about his fishing business—I’d written some free content for a brochure promoting this side business—about his wife Velma, and about their son. Everybody was fine. The economy was slow. Other than a few trees down, Hurricane Tomas had done no damage.
Terria Misick, who is married to a relative of the former Prime Minister, met us in the lobby, and showed us to our room, 502, which was the middle unit on the top floor of the Tuscany’s west wing.
We had an apt ending to our journey: after drinking in the panoramic view from our private, screened-in balcony, Megan walked straight into the glass door, and within seconds, she had a golf ball-sized lump on her forehead and a swollen nose. So much for an elegant dinner at Opus. I dug a spare trash bag out of the can in the kitchen, put ice in it, and dug some Advil out of Megan’s purse.
We had arrived in paradise.