We had our own long weekend out here in Dubai this past weekend; although ours was of a religious nature. Whenever that happens, all restaurants and bars that are permitted to serve alcohol cannot for a 24hour period starting at 6 pm the night before the holiday until 6 pm on the day of the holiday. This takes some getting used to but isn’t really a big deal. All of the liquor stores in Dubai also close earlier the day before and open later the day of the holiday as well. But that isn’t what this blog is about.
The weekend here is Friday/Saturday and on Friday, a group of about 30 of us, drove to one of the adjoining Emirates (the United Arab Emirates [UAE] is made up of 7 different Emirates [Dubai being the most populous and famous]) to go to a water park and spend the night at the Barracuda resort. The resort isn’t much to look at, especially when you consider just how affluent and over-the-top luxurious Dubai and other resorts in area can be, but for less than $100 US, I got entry into the water park, one night’s stay in the resort on the beach, and buffet breakfast the next day.
The REAL main attraction at the resort is the enormous liquor store on site. You normally need a liquor license to buy and keep booze here, but this store doesn’t require you to have one to purchase booze. Granted, you take risks that you won’t get stopped and asked to see your liquor license, but judging by the crowds, there are a lot of risk takers out there. The extra appeal to it is the low to non-existent taxes paid on the booze itself. Prices are at least 30% cheaper than in Dubai. Cheaper than duty free in some cases. But enough about that. Let’s discuss how I coped with meeting strangers this past weekend.
We were free to enter the park any time after noon and stay until the park closed at 6:30. When I got there at around 12:30, the temperature was pushing 40 degrees Celsius, with no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. In the change room I decided to lube myself up with sunblock knowing that even though I have furry arms, legs, and chest, eventually the sun will break through and punish me. I can’t swim, but most of the slides don’t really require you to be able to swim. And anyway, this is the only water park in the UAE that actually has a pool bar. Yeah, that’s right, a pool bar. You can sit in the sun amidst water slides and down beer, vodka, all sorts of shooters, and specialty drinks. I’m not sure if this is genius or foolish.
I know most of the people in our group. Some I talk to regularly, some only by name. But there are a few, particularly the three girls in the smallest bathing suits that I don’t know at all. As one of the co-organizers it is my job to make sure everyone is okay and doing well. Granted, they’re all sitting in a pool getting plastered, so my job isn’t too difficult.
Hours pass. I have left the pool bar and gone on a few slides. I like the ones with inner tubes. One of them is just a lazy river and you float around on twin-tubes so you can talk with the person you’re sharing the tube with. I do this a few times in a row as it’s super-relaxing. When I get back to the pool bar, they’re all still there and in various stages of sobriety.
The one girl looks at me beaming. Now, I don’t want to boast, but I did have some pretty cool board shorts on. Lol. I had never spoken to this girl before, and in fact, she wasn’t even with the group that came out with us. She just saw us having fun and sat down with us. Oh to be a young, stupidly attractive girl that oozes confidence (or tequila shots where appropriate). She taps the little marble stool submerged in water beside her. “Come here, we totally need to talk.” Like, totally. But who am I to mock the obviously desperate. Lol.
Be cool. No stutter. Don’t flex cause you ain’t that muscular you little twerp. All these thoughts are running through my head. Besides, it’s not the first time a half-naked girl wanted to talk to me.
“Hi.” She looks up at me and stretches out her hand.
I can already feel the word “Hello” sticking in my throat. This is not going to go well. And just as I’m about to reply, someone walks up behind me and slaps me on the shoulder, a shoulder now as red as a cooked lobster. “Ger, haven’t seen you in weeks.”
It’s funny, but I never stutter when I let out shrieks of pain after being slapped on a fresh dose of sunburn. The scream is full and uncluttered. Always the same. As I drop down beneath the surface of the water to try and ease the pain riddling me now, it is to no avail. Apparently I sound like I should be at a One Direction concert along with all the other teenage girls.
As much as the stutter can be a hindrance, squealing from sunburn pain is a sure fire way to remain on non-speaking terms with the bikini-clad girl at the pool bar.