About this time, a flock of seagulls begins circling overhead, trained to realize lunchtime for resort guests also means lunchtime for birds. This is an all-inclusive, after all. They perch atop the umbrella shades, screeching. I place my plate on a wicker stand for a moment, prompting one gull to see his opportunity. He divebombs under my shade and snatches a mussel shell from my paella. The bird immediately drops it to the ground, where half a dozen gulls fight for the errant grains of rice. The mussel snatcher bites at the other gulls that dare encroach.
For 10 seconds, I fume. How dare these stupid birds ruin my lunch. I wish I were wearing steel-tipped boots. Then comes the realization: I’m a visitor on Planet Yes. I flag down the paella cart and get another plate.
Day 3: During morning poolside yoga, the view from my “downward dog” position is eclipsed by an unfamiliar, flesh-colored curvature. Turns out it’s my gut.
Day 4: Dinnertime arrives, but neither of us is hungry. The reason? An hour after lunch at the seafood grill, a billow of smoke had caught our attention. It was the poolside barbecue, and the chef was grilling chicken thighs, burgers and whole fillets of mahi mahi. My wife and I had paid $3,700, or $462.50 per person per day, for four nights. We felt obligated to get our money’s worth. The built-in restraints of an accumulating tab didn’t exist here, so rather than listening to our stomachs, we submitted to the lobe in the brain where irrationality rules.
After that grilled chicken guacamole sandwich (with a side of nachos and Buffalo wings), I waddle back to my room. The gorgeous setting — and this is a no-children resort! — belies any illusions of relaxation in the first three days. I feel miserable. It’s entirely my fault. The combination of unlimited eating, drinking, lounging, other sedentary acts and “vacation brain” compel me to step on the bathroom scale. My God. I think the numbers must be inflated by the exchange rate. I have gained 12 pounds in four days.
Let’s take it easy for dinner, my wife suggests.
Translation: At the Italian restaurant on our last night, we opt for three appetizers instead of four. Rather than a heavy cream sauce with my fettuccine, I go with pesto and the thinner strands of capellini. We split a dessert.
Day 5: There are three hours before the airport shuttle whisks us away from paradise. Even with my epiphany the previous day, rationality is tossed aside on this final morning with a mindset of “the hell with this, it’s my last day.” I begin working in dietary fiber, which by my interpretation means 10 strips of bacon and a quarter bowl of oatmeal.
On the plane ride home, I read a magazine story about some yokel who wins the lottery, then squanders it all and ends up broke a few years later. It’s as if I am staring into a mirror. When prudence is discarded, when rules give way to lawlessness, when the word “no” doesn’t register, we’re no better than boys stuck on a free-for-all island.
In this analogy, I am Piggy.