Perhaps the No Photography sign in the lobby should have tipped me off.
Another clue was the large mural of two naked models in a pool doing what cannot be described as the butterfly stroke. In retrospect, the name of the resort itself, Temptation, should also have given me pause. But aren’t we all tempted to go on a free vacation to a white sandy beach in Cancun when our new boyfriend invites us?
The boyfriend was a Brit who had adopted America’s accent but not its dental habits. Tom, we’ll call him, owned a ballroom dance studio in North Carolina, and let’s just say that Tom was good at two things: Dancing was the other one. And so, after a steamy month of dating, when he told me he wanted to take me to Mexico, I didn’t even pass Go or collect $200 before I was watching the runway at Raleigh-Durham’s airport disappear from view.
The resort was upscale, modern, chic. There were free drinks and food everywhere, several stunning pools, palm trees lining the beach and employees that looked like they belonged in a Vogue spread.
Shortly after checking in, I noticed what looked like two topless Victoria’s Secret modelsmaking out in the pool. More than making out — rounding second base, really.
Was this a Mexican thing? I guess I should have paid more attention in Spanish class.
“I’VE ALREADY HAD OFFERS FROM LIKE 12 GUYS HERE WHO WANT TO FUCK YOU,” HE COMPLAINED.
When the models started to make out with each other’s male companions, I started to ask my boyfriend some questions.
“Um … is this a swingers’ resort?”
“Um, are you a swinger?”
“Shouldn’t you have told me this before you brought me here?”
“I didn’t want to scare you off.”
I informed him I would not be swinging — not on a train, not in a plane, not with some accountant named Blaine. He was clearly disappointed. “But I’ve already had offers from like 12 guys here who want to fuck you,” he complained.
I’d finally found a guy who liked to dance and wasn’t gay, and he wanted me to have sex with other guys in front of him. I wanted to leave, but after contemplating the challenges involved in booking a flight and getting to the airport as a single female in a foreign country, I decided to stay. I took off my top, headed to the pool and tried to make the most of my vacation.
A few hours later, in the “playtime pool,” I watched Tom slide his hand up the thigh of a blond trophy wife. I had had enough.
I stormed back to the room, threw my non-swinging body on the bed and started to cry. Tom followed me and promised me he’d be good. But at dinner the next evening, he casually observed — the way some men might comment on the cuisine — “There are so many delicious whores here.” And in every encounter we had with other couples at the resort, Tom would say some variation of “I’d like to, but it’s her first time.” Should I give in and just try it? When in Cancun, right?
A CUTE, DECIDEDLY COUNTRY 25-YEAR-OLD WOMAN APPROACHED ME AND OFFERED HERSELF TO ME.
Nope. I just couldn’t do it. And I also couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I was with a man who was not only OK with me being with other men but was also encouraging me to do so in front of him.
“Why do you want me to be with other men?” I asked him pointedly.
“Why do you like the color blue?” he responded. “You just do.”
It was me, not him, who was the outlier here. The swingers referred to people like me — the nonparticipants — as “Normals.” So, for my own peace of mind and to make something of the trip, I adopted the role of amateur anthropologist: talking with the swingers, finding out more about their lives and what made them tick.
The swingers there ran the gamut, including a member of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and a professional hula-hooper from Canada (there were a surprising number of Canadians there, who knew?).
“Aren’t you worried about getting a disease?” I asked the hula-hooper.
“No, we use protection. Everything in life comes with risks. That alcohol you are drinking is risky too.”
One of the most surreal moments came in the hot tub one evening. While some of the silicone-enhanced female occupants complimented me on my natural breasts, one of the guys teased me about my apparently oversized “granny panty bikini bottoms.” Then a cute, decidedly country 25-year-old woman approached me and offered herself to me.
“What, you ain’t never touched a pussy before?” she purred in a Kentucky twang. A small part of me thought I should touch her to be polite and because I never turn down free samples, but I declined and left — admittedly with newfound confidence in my own body.
As if taking me to a swingers’ resort without my knowledge and pressuring me to participate was not enough, on our last night at the resort, my soon-to-be-former boyfriend signed me up for a pole-dancing contest. I was annoyed but also very drunk. And perhaps something of the surroundings had sunk into my skin, or perhaps I was just tired of being called “Normal,” but I got up on stage and danced like I never had before.
I came in first.
I had finally found my place at a swingers’ resort.
The next day I returned to my life and to the “Normals” within it, telling the boyfriend to take a hike, with an international pole dancing championship under my belt and a cheap T-shirt reading “Bad Influence” to commemorate it. That’s right, I went to a swingers’ resort and all I got was a lousy T-shirt.