My private island resort was a place where Westerners did not stand out, unlike everywhere else in the tiny nation. I walked around barefoot in a bikini and pounded beer in a thatched bungalow as if I were on vacation.
I was not. My editor in New York asked for a story, and I was scraping it together out of notes with no reliable Internet for the Monday paper.
Then along came the Viking, dripping wet.
Viking: The electricity went down in town so I thought I’d swim over here for lunch.
Me: That’s a far swim.
Viking: It’s only a kilometer.
Me: The Merman isn’t here. He’s doing fish things at the lab.
Is there protocol for greeting an unexpected Viking? Cover up the bikini? I did not. I was on the clock, and if my editor asked for a story while I was in the jungle, then by golly I was going to write it near naked and drunk. I am a very serious and responsible journalist.
Also, the Viking was half-dressed too.
I closed my laptop and offered him a warm beer. He was all torso, with a six-pack so sharp it could slice raw vegetables.
Viking: A few of the expats are going diving tomorrow if you want to join us? I can meet you at the market in the morning, and there’s lunch. It should be fun.
He swam to my private island. Now he was asking me out. This doesn’t happen in Sarahworld. What about that girlfriend? What’s the etiquette for that?
Me: I would love to.
We sat on the deck overlooking the lagoon and talked about island ecology, development economics, and hermaphrodite fish. The Viking gave great flirt.
Viking: So I guess I should probably head to the bar and have lunch now …
It sounded like it might be an invitation too. Was I supposed to join him? I was full of beer and there was this small detail of a deadline to attend to, not to mention a sleeping editor in another time zone depending on me.
I didn’t know what move to make. Maybe it was the booze. Or the midday sun. Or the extremely gorgeous Ph.D. who swam to my island for lunch and asked me on a date. I have never been so incompetent in my entire dating career. Or my journalism career, for that matter.
I stayed behind to finish my story.