Friday, February 6, 2009

Crazy games

I'm not sure if every resort has them, but I have a hunch many of them employ a sports and entertainment team like Riu Vallarta had.

There were a group of seven or eight people each day who seemed to be around the resort much of the day. At times they all wore uniform shirts signifying they were part of this obscure group of people. It was a predominantly male group, and none of the dudes were white guys. I'm not sure what countries they represented, but their names and/or accents made it clear they weren't Norweigan.

All of the dudes were relatively young and in good shape. They would lead activities and games from time to time. Late one morning I saw two of them leading some sort of water aerobics class in the pool. Well, it started out as water aerobics, but it ended up more like a foreplay session for a geriatric orgy. It was a bit creepy.

A couple of dudes seemed to handle all the emcee duties at the pool. They had a sound system set up so they could broadcast across the pool when promoting an upcoming activity or calling a bingo game. They'd usually do their announcements in both Spanish and English, although I swear 99 percent of the resort guests spoke English.

The dude who emceed most often had quite the accent, and it was damn hard to understand him at times. I don't know why that guy was the voice of the sports and entertainment team, but it should have been the Canadian chick.

Yep, there was a chick who was part of the team, and she's Canadian. The reason I know that is that I overheard some dude hitting on her the first afternoon we arrived at the resort. The team members eat lunch at the same buffet where everyone else does, and some dude really wanted to get to know her better.

She was cute, certainly, but somehow she was more than that, at least to the dudes who worked with her. A couple of those dudes were clearly gay, yet that didn't seem to make a difference, they were all enamored with her. Given that she was probably the only white woman on the entire resort staff, it's not surprising she drew as much attention as she did from every dude on staff. Irrelevant trivia: she was in good shape, but had meatier legs than most of the guys on the team, and her legs looked like they'd been attacked by a dozen bees.

I thought she was the only woman on the team, but on the last day another woman appeared. I'm not sure what nationality she was, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't Swedish.

On the final afternoon my brother went up to the room for a while to take a siesta, so I was lounging at the pool by myself. I was sitting in the pool near the sound system when one of the dudes started promoting a "crazy game" in minutes. The allure of the crazy game was a chance to win a massage from the resort spa.

One of the team members asked me if I wanted to play the crazy game. I didn't, but I didn't exactly say no. Not long after that he asked my name and signed me up. I wasn't thrilled.

As it turns out, only four guys wanted to play the crazy game, or were stupid enough to let themselves be recruited. The game: diving for chips.

A variety of poker chips in varying colors were thrown into the pool near the sound system. Each color was worth a different point value, from five to 50. The challenge was to pick up as many chips off the bottom of the pool as possible in 30 seconds, while wearing a lifejacket. I had no idea how easy or difficult it would be.

The first guy to play the crazy game managed about three or four chips, including one of the 50-point chips. His girlfriend was with him, and cheering for him. I think she really wanted the massage.

I went second. The emcee for the event asked where my wife was. Not wanting to look completely pathetic I gestured up toward the hotel. My life was pathetic enough, the last thing I needed was to acknowledge to the entire pool I was there with my brother.

During my 30 seconds diving to the bottom of the pool in about four feet of water I did pretty well. I surmised that part of the trick to diving down to the bottom of the pool was exhaling as I upended myself. Each time I did that I'd buy myself a few seconds to grab chips, and there were enough of them that each time I was able to grab one or two. I'd grab them with my right hand, primarily, and hold them in my left hand.

Each time I surfaced nobody could tell how many chips I was holding. And I'd quickly take a breath and dive back down. At the end of my 30 seconds I managed to grab several chips, including two 50 pointers. My total was near 200 points, more than 100 better than my predecessor. When I climbed out of the pool and opened my hand, revealing several chips, I heard the dude's girlfriend gasp. She knew I clobbered her boyfriend's total.

The two dudes after me did better than the first guy, but not as well as me. One dude came within 20 points of my total, but I won. I was leaving the next day, but I won the free massage, allegedly.

Being the winner, unfortunately, I had to dance like a jackass for 20 seconds as the emcee played some dance tune. To claim my prize, I had to attend the evening show in the showroom, where each day they call the winners of the various games up on stage. We got a certificate with our name on it, acknowledging we were a winner, and had to do a Rockettes-style dance with the team members.

I could have lived without the stupid dancing, both at the pool and on stage, but I'm the only one who will remember it. I enjoyed playing the crazy game, I must say. My competitive spirit was quickly unleashed when I realized it was a game I could excel at.

As for that free massage, I had a noon flight out of Puerto Vallarta the next day, so there was no chance to take advantage of it, although during my appearance on stage I never received anything that would suggest I was entitled to a free massage. So much for a happy ending to my vacation.

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