Written by: BELINDA IRVINE
If we lived in a standard suburb in a standard state rather than on a tiny rock off another smallish rock, there would be an endless array of things we could do to occupy our weekends and birthdays. We could choose from one of hundreds of restaurants, see a musical, go to a live show, see a live band… I could go on and on.
Sometimes peace and tranquility are what you think you want, but in reality, they can be just plain boring when you get too much of ’em. Other times, you can be at a pumping party and all you want is to be home on the couch because it’s been an exhausting week. And sometimes you just don’t know what you’re going to feel like doing until the time comes and what you thought you wanted isn’t what you want to do after all. And when that happens and you’re living on a tiny rock with limited options, you will probably need to get creative and BYOP – Bring Your Own Party.
Not too long ago, we had such a night. It was one minute in the planning and couldn’t have been better if we tried. What started out quiet ended anything but. Times like these are usually when stupid shit goes down (and there are definitely a few stories that will forever stay in the vault), but here are some bits of what I’ve come to think of as the quintessential island night…
“Come for happy hour,” she said.
“Ask the boys to come,” she said.
“Bring the boat,” she said.
“You’ll be back in time for dinner,” she said.
We’re always so optimistic before the night begins, aren’t we islanders?
It was my friend Sally’s birthday. She and her sister had decided to spend a couple of relaxing days at a nearby island resort, escaping a bit of their own reality. Their plan was to chill and enjoy a few well-deserved cocktails while soaking up some sun for her birthday. No work, less phone calls, happy mellow days. Peace and tranquility would be the best birthday present… or so she had thought.
Disappointed we wouldn’t all be hanging out for her birthday, I sent Sally a text wishing her an awesome day and then got on with mine. I was staying on another island not far from where she was when out of the blue, I received a reply from her mid-afternoon: “Thx. Hey – why don’t you come for happy hour! It’s sooo quiet here. Ask the boys to come, bring the boat, you’ll be back before dinner.”
Famous last words.
“So boys, you know how Sally wanted to escape and enjoy some peace for her birthday? Well, she’s done with that, has grown bored of all the tranquility, and has invited us for happy hour cocktails. You in?” I definitely didn’t have to ask these three guys twice when a drink was on offer. We all piled into the boat for the 30 minute drive between the islands, keen to help her celebrate with a happy birthday happy hour.
When we pulled up to the island resort, as though it were an omen of the mischief to come, we were greeted by – not kidding – a wild pig roaming the beach. She must have been searching for water, as it’s been extremely dry as of recent. One of the guys could barely contain his excitement (apparently it was a ‘grew up in western NSW of Australia’ kind of thing) and immediately began making plans to catch the pig, build a pen, and start breeding them. I didn’t even try to understand.
After spending a hour trying to get off our boat and to shore – an episode that could be a post of its own as it included many radio calls, attempts to start two engines on two separate boats, and lots of talk about just giving up and swimming into shore – we finally reached the beach. And yes – we were beyond ready for a cocktail at this point. The Australian went off to see if he could catch the feral pig while the rest of us headed for the bar.
“Come for happy hour,” she said. “You’ll be back by dinner,” she said.
Birthday mojitos all around.
We were given the invaluable heads up that island time takes on an entirely new meaning at this bar, so we immediately ordered Round Two when the first round was delivered. Cheers and Happy Birthday!
“Just one more before you all head back? My shout,” she said.
Fast forward three or four rounds, and it’s well past dinner time. Guests from the resort (luckily there weren’t too many) quickly come to the realization that we’re the entertainment for the evening. A couple of brave souls answer our enthusiastic (read: drunken) requests to join in the fun and join us for a drink.
One couple, clearly still on the Tranquility Train and looking like deer in headlights, attempt to duck out of the party. Before they try to say goodbye to the boys, I give them a quick lesson on the lifesaving exit strategy we call, The Bermuda Triangle (do they call it that in Bermuda too?). I instruct them to simply disappear, just leave, and I’ll pass on their goodbyes to the boys for them. Attempt it yourself and your odds of being allowed to actually leave will be pretty slim. They took my advice and slipped away into the darkness.
One of the guys decides to enter the crab race, a regular event at any resort on this rock. His crab wins! And when offered a glove to pick up the crab, much to the shock of the resort guests, he instead picks it up in his bare hands and decides to take it for a victory lap around the volleyball court. Entertainment, indeed.
There was dancing on the bar, the stools, and on the table.
There was raucous singing to songs from the 90s.
There were clothes being removed at the bar for no reason (thankfully, for the guest’s sake, at this time it was only for an audience of one – me!).
There was late night swimming in the ocean (supervised by the light from my iPhone).
And best of all, there was a kindly prepared table of bar snacks, finger foods, and even a birthday cake to soak up some of the alcohol.
“Just one more round!” she said.
Six hours after we arrived, we were finished with only one early retiree and all other bodies accounted for and present.
“Come for happy hour,” she said.
“You’ll be back by dinner,” she said.
Throughout the night, a few of the guests asked where we’d come from. “Oh, just another island up the way.”
“Really? So you live here?”
We most certainly do. And sometimes we love the peace and tranquility as much as you do when you visit. But sometimes we find ourselves needing something more. And that’s when we’re forced to get creative – because we don’t have hundreds of restaurants to choose from, musicals to see, or live shows to attend.
And so we make a night of it. “It” will sometimes be with your best mates, work family, or even people you just met that day. Two drinks may turn into ten. Dancing on the bar top may ensue. We’re islanders, after all. And if there’s one thing we know how to do well, it’s how to BYOP.