Back in the days when I was a young turk, one of my buddies, Tom Jones,
thought it'd be a good idea to visit Jamaica over the Easter weekend. When I look back
on that little trip, I like to characterize it as Beavis & Butthead Go to Jamaica.
Anyway, Jones & I flew out of Houston on Friday, 20 April, and stayed in Montego Bay, in a little resort
right on the beach. We had a great view of the Caribbean, and the moment I got there, I was out of
cigarettes. This was back in the day when the last ten rows on the jets were "Smoking" rows.
I'd seen a smoke shop at the front of the hotel, so I headed over there, told Jones I'd meet him
back at the pool, would bring him a pack of Kools, along with my Marlboros, seeya in a minute...
Well, I was 24 years old, with the attention span of a kitten, and... well, I didn't get back for about 2 hours.
I wound up meeting rastamen at the smoke shop, taking a ride to the jungle, eating melons with the guys,
and every one of those guys had something to sell me. I left the hotel with about $60 U.S., and
when I got back, I had to beg a pack of matches at the smoke shop.
"Beavis & Butthead" moment, #1.
And you thought
it's legal here!
Swimmers at Rick's,
Ben at dusk, 21 April,
1984, Negril, Jamaica
The next morning, Tom rented a car. I wasn't eligible to drive, being only 24. Good thing, too!
In Jamaica, you have to drive on the left side of the road, which is a natural thing for a Jamaican, not to
mention for an IRL fan from Indianapolis. So Jones, a year my elder, drove. I took pictures with my crappy
little disc camera. I was in culture shock, but maybe Tom had seen such things in Indiana.
At one point on the road, a mostly-naked boy leapt onto the roadway and, holding a stalk of the local crop, yelled
"SUGAR CANE!!!" They must have it in Indiana, because Tom wasn't one bit interested in that.
We rolled into Negril and bought day passes at Hedonism II. Plan was to maybe meet
women. Nude women. As it turned out, the ratio of men-to-women at this place was about 6 to 1.
Looked like every guy in the place had a similar intent, and it rapidly dawned on me that we
were definitely not going to meet more than 2/6's of a woman here today.
"Beavis & Butthead" moment, #2.
Hedonism is a "Clothing Optional" club.
Heck, I hadn't skinny-dipped since the last time I was at Hippy Hollow
at Lake Travis! Sounded kinda, I dunno, liberating! Summarily, we headed down to
the beach and doffed our garments, sitting in the sand amongst some groves of trees.
There were other folks down there, couples & singles, all tucked into private little clearings,
so I didn't feel too weird being there. After polishing off a complimentary rum drink,
I headed to the bar to replenish our supply. Looking around, I soon realized that I was the only
au naturale client around for hundreds of yards.
"Two rum-and-cokes, please," I said to the bartender.
"Sir?" he leaned over the bar toward me discreetly. "You are supposed to wear clothing at the bar."
"Beavis & Butthead" moment, #3. The bartender filled my order
while I acquired a few cocktail napkins to adhere to the club rules.
Negril at the
turn of the earth
After the revelation,
22 April, 1984
We stopped at Rick's Bar in Negril on the way back to Mobay, and watched people swimming
in the violent tide of the adjoining cove. I couldn't muster the courage to jump the 40 feet into the sea
The next morning, I was scooped up by a Jamaican princess who seemed to be very attracted to me.
Jones watched us from a distance, and having encouraged me to 'go with it,' so I did,
and sometime about noon, everything was looking very romantic. The Jamaican princess
seemed to have become my little angelic sweetheart. Maybe I was something special!
She doted on me, rubbed sunscreen all over me, sipped rum punch out of the same glass as me...
We played in the water on the beach, at the pool, on the beach again...
I had no idea where it was going to go. When I actually got the nerve to put my arm around her,
suddenly she leapt to her feet, and three huge men appeared. Her voice exploded as she stood up:
"YOU do NOT touch me!"
I started to get up too, alarmed that I had done something wrong, and apologies were
forming on my lips when one of the muscled men shoved me down, and in a thick British accent
instructed me to stay down. Two of them stood over me, fingers pointing at my face, while the third
he-man escorted the angelic princess away from the beach, to a waiting car.
I looked helplessly at the shoreline, and defensively crossing my calves, wrapped my arms
around my own legs, a nonverbal agreement. Apologies were definitely not
being accepted today. They walked away at a quick pace once the girl was in the sedan.
This was more of a "Napoleon Dynamite" moment. My head was completely blank.
I watched the car drive off with my mouth gaping open, utterly confused.
I didn't even know what had just happened or why.
Jones eventually appeared and commented, "Guess you learned your lesson."
"Beavis & Butthead" moment #4.
sell you stuff!
We were due to go home the next day, and we headed into the graveyard where the women
sold their wares. I wound up giving one of the ladies my sunglasses AND my sandals. So I was
a minor hero. They let us go to the airport with minimal loss. The final chapter in this tale
occured in the air, moments after leaving Montego Bay, as the 737 climbed through a squall.
Noticeably, the nose of the aircraft dipped downward, accompanied by a moment of near-
weightlessness. The cabin grew completely quiet, everybody stopped talking. We heard the
engines suddenly go full-throttle, and after a moment, we began to climb again. Whew!
Every single passenger on that plane ordered a double cocktail after that.
Sure do miss those red sunglasses.
All images Copyright 1984, 2002, 2008 EBBoykin, Jr