So, here we were, the token ‘blacks’ on a budget vacationing at an exclusive Marriott resort, knowing good and well we couldn’t afford the beach towels wrapped around us, much less the high-priced suites or high-end amenities, but here we came just the same, tipping over to the hot tub, hoping not to make a splash!
There were only a few people around the pool area and only one older couple in the Jacuzzi.
“I’ll give them 5 minutes to make up an excuse to leave” I whispered to my husband as we came near.
I pulled my carefully pressed and dyed blonde hair up into a knot so it wouldn’t get wet.
“You’re so wrong for that.”
“Okay, one minute.”
We dropped our towels and stepped in.
The wife said something to her husband and climbed out. It hadn’t even been ten seconds!
Aha! I looked at my husband.
Then a woman and her teen-aged daughter came around on the other side of him and stepped into the water. About the same time about four or five children come—seemingly out of nowhere and practically dive bombed in, including one little girl, about six years old, dark hair, clear blue eyes, slender arms and legs.
She looked right at me as she stepped into the churning, frothy, water and sidled closer. I looked at my husband.
“She likes you” he said.
I looked back at her and smiled. “Hi!”
“Hi!” She said and scooted closer. She kept looking at me, inspecting my face, my hair. “I caught a fish.”
“Yeah, a yellow tail tropical fish, I caught him in my hands like this” she cupped her hands together and held them out towards me.
“Oh wow. You weren’t scared he might bite you or something?” the little girl cut her eyes at me as if I was dumb.
“He was a little bitty yellow fish. Like, this big” she held her forefinger and thumb together so that there would be just space enough for a tic-tac.
“Oh, well, I guess nothing scary about that, huh?”
She gave me that look again.
“So, what did you do with him?”
She shrugged. “I let him go.”
A slim, dark-haired woman holding a chubby baby wearing only a sun hat and a diaper began calling names like a drill sergeant and the little girl obediently splashed out of her seat beside me along with all of the other children who had so unceremoniously barreled in. As quickly as they came, they were gone, ordered, with precision, by Sergeant Mom. The adults who were left in the pool were awe-struck.
“I think she has 8”
“You mean all of those kids are hers?”
“Oh my gosh!”
“How does she do it?”
“She seems to have a system.”
“Yeah, look at them, they’re all together.”
“Can you imagine trying to keep up with 8 kids at the beach?”
“Lord, I’d probably never leave the house.”
“I know! I’d lose one for sure!”
And so the conversation went with the older couple—oh, yeah, the wife came back, perhaps she went to the bathroom?—the lady with her daughter, who happens to be just a few years older than our daughter, and us, the only black people at the exclusive Marriott resort. We continued in the conversation, without any weirdness, awkward moments or ridiculous questions.
We marveled at the fearlessness of the mother and the ordiliness of her children, we talked about our own children and our parental triumphs and shortcomings. We laughed and chatted about all the little nothings that people chat about with acquaintances that you meet by the pool when you’re on vacation.
The water got a little too warm so we got out, wrapped ourselves in the over-priced towels and bid our resort mates adieu. As we walked back to our room I, of course, chastised my husband for making assumptions about others based on such simple differences as skin color or social class. He had almost let pettiness ruin a perfect vacation! ; )