I just returned from my godson’s wedding in Jamaica and I promise you there was more heart, soul and far more beautiful people at those nuptials than anywhere in Great Britain during Pippa Middleton’s “event of the year.” The Brits may have feted foreign dignitaries and bluebloods, but the real representin’ was done in Montego Bay.
More than thirty people from around the world and all over the U.S. convened to celebrate the union of two souls who are so beloved it didn’t seem at all like a sacrifice for anyone to travel 27+ hours to be there. Amid the palm trees, warm sand and mojitos, a rainbow of African queens, Indian ranis and ranas, Latina goddesses, Polish princes and Midwestern nobility brought out the best in each other, reminding me why diversity moves the dial on our evolution as sentient beings. I suspect there was a fairly wide socio economic spectrum among the group, or maybe not. In flip-flops and bathing suits it’s hard to tell what someone drives, their income or how much square footage they inhabit.
The qualities on display in great abundance were kindness, compassion and respect. Whenever I marveled at the uniqueness of the situation—spending literally every waking moment with a gathering of people who were different in age, background and geography, and yet who felt more like family than family, the response was always the same. “What did you expect from Chad and Nolene’s friends?”
The bigger question is, what is it about someone that attracts such goodness? A week in Jamaica with this tribe provided illumination.
1. No judgment.
This wasn’t just a destination wedding. It was a vacation from snarkiness. At no time was there any body shaming in spite of the fact that we had wildly varying physiques and spent 99% of our time wearing only dental floss and sunscreen.
We were a glorious army of the unashamed and it felt good. The things I did notice about everyone’s appearance was the broadness of their smiles and the moony way the husbands looked at their wives as they walked toward them (of course the wives were usually carrying a couple of mojitos, but still).
Not once did anyone speak poorly of anyone else. Instead, I was regaled with stories of great affection and allegiance—individual highlight reels that featured only positive recollections, because that is how these dear ones perceive one another.
2. No drama.
Seven bridesmaids, monsoon conditions and spa staff, who on the day of the wedding operated on “island time,” i.e. “time is merely a concept and not a reality, mon,” and no one freaked out.
Maybe it was the day drinking, or maybe it’s because this particular group of lovelies have their priorities straight, but we were all together to celebrate love. Period. We were in a tropical paradise, rain or no, still paradise. We weren’t hungry, thirsty, homeless or in a war zone. When life is this good, accept it. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Smile. Hug the bride.
I’ve spent my life around women, but I wish I’d known more like these females early on in my womanhood. When Veronique discovered black make-up on the bodice of her blush-colored bridesmaid’s dress she didn’t have a meltdown. Someone brought her a cloth, she blotted up as much as she could and she was done with it. She was there to support the bride and have a good time. Now that’s a broad to love and adore.
I once had a friend who had to be hospitalized because her husband stepped on her shoe and left a scuffmark. Of course this same woman had to be carried when it rained so that her shoes would not get wet. I tried to explain that the reason we wear shoes is so that when it rains our feet do not get wet, but it was a lost cause.
3. Be hella silly.
Nothing says hakuna matata like a giant inflatable flamingo that is not allowed into the pool. “Wilbert,” the name Kristi gave the giant pool toy she brought for the occasion, sat on the deck presiding over water volleyball like a hyper alert pink line judge.
Cayshe, one of the resort’s more entertaining staff members, stopped by to ask whether he might mount Kristi’s goose at some point. We think he meant the big flamingo, but we can’t be certain.
There were jokes and dance moves and sideways glances that cracked me up a hundred times a day. Housekeeping had a way of origami-ing bath towels in the shape of elephants, swans and what I think were supposed to be hearts (we were, after all, in town for a wedding). Instead, one evening, we were greeted by what appeared to be giant vaginas on the middle of the bed. It made for lively breakfast conversation.
We were appalled and wildly entertained by a couple having sex in the pool one afternoon. We took turns wading over to where they were going at it, in front of the swim-up bar, and then reporting back on their “pillow talk.” We learned they were each married to someone else, she liked it from behind and holy shit why are we in this water with them?! We frequented the other pools after that.
4. All you need is love.
It was evident to anyone at all that Chad and Nolene love, respect and adore one another. It was equally clear that all the couples were deeply in love and in like, and that these were enduring unions and friendships that would stand the test of time. What was amazing to me was the love showered upon my dad and me.
We’ve known Chad since he was a little boy. With great pride we have watched him evolve as a man—exemplifying what is best at every stage. He has treated people with dignity and respect. He has always worked hard to attain worthy goals. He’s the kind of person you hold up as an example of all that is right with the world, and all that can change the world for the better. It only makes sense then, that he and Nolene would attract spectacularly wonderful friends.
To be included among a group of people who radiate such positivity, graciousness, goodness and generosity of spirit was to be honored. I can’t remember ever attending a wedding and walking away with the biggest gift.
Thanks Chad and Nolene, Andre, Serena, Jaye, Kristi, Veronique, Anne, Mary, Yasmin, Marisol, Melissa, Renisha, Renee, Belinda, Alisia, Sarah, Emily, Marta, Grace, Devra, Joaquin, Nick, Pawel, James, Tai, Lucas, Art, Ron, Ali, Ricky and Chris. Loves ya!
Pam was thrilled to write an article about her friend and fellow Coalition of Photographic Arts (CoPA) board member Tom Jordan for M Magazine’s May 2017 issue. Read the full article here!
Tom’s wonderful photography of Door County invokes all kinds of emotions-images are at turns majestic, haunting, humorous and an inspiration to other photographers. Tom was an intimidating guy when he was…cue the dramatic music…”the client” at ad agency Hoffman York where he served as Creative Director and Chairman for many years. He wasn’t mean or a hothead, but he was exacting, and that made us want to work our tails off for him.
Today Tom and I serve on the board of the non profit fine art photography organization CoPA, with me as Prez and Tom as Vice Prez. He calls me boss. I will never get used to that.
Watch for more from Pam in M Magazine in the August issue.
If you’ve ever sold anything on Craigslist you’ve faced “the beast.” It had been a while since I listed my childhood bedroom set on Craigslist (which included a faux French provincial canopy bed retrofitted with 2”x4”s fit for a pudgy princess) so I had kind of forgotten how quickly scammers slither out from under their rocks.
I am in the process of selling my parent’s furniture so that I can empty a 12’ x 12’ storage space containing my things from California. If I don’t get my stuff out of storage by next month, I will have paid 10 times the aggregate value of the items—in storage fees.
Within 60 seconds of listing a solid walnut dining set with china hutch, six chairs and a table measuring 9’ with the leaves (perfect for large family gatherings!), I got a text asking if “the item” was still for sale. Meet the beast.
The first tipoff you’re not dealing with a legit human buyer is the lightning speed with which the beast contacts you. The second clue is a nonspecific question about “the item.” Angelinanqr (that’s the name the beast went by) offered to pay over asking, sight unseen, oh, and it had to be a PayPal transaction.
Ding ding ding ding…alarms were chiming like a Swiss church on Christmas morning. Save yourself a bushel of trouble by Googling “Craigslist scams” before listing anything. As for the other scams out there, I’ve done a little hands-on research that might save you some peace of mind, cash, heartache and humiliation. Here are just a few red flags to avoid:
1. “I left my wallet in my other pants.”
There are no other pants. There is no wallet. Best case scenario: you are dining with a con artist who wishes to charm you out of the fish special of the day. Worst case: he ain’t so charming and he’s looking to get into more than the sea bass.
The evening begins on a high note of generosity, when your date gallantly instructs you to order anything you wish as he is picking up the check. If you are me, in which case you have been raised by Helen and Tom Ferderbar, as long as someone else is paying you will never order the most expensive thing on the menu. Your walletless date will, however, and you will be stuck with a tab that includes a quarter of a roasted chicken and a 5lb lobster tail.
Recommendation: upon learning the man’s wallet is MIA excuse yourself for the ladies room, pay your portion of the check and duck out through the kitchen.
2. “Praise Jesus!”
If you are even considering doing business with a person who begins a meeting by “raising the roof for our lord,” and I can’t stress this enough, RUN don’t walk in the opposite direction.
It has been my experience that decent people of any religious persuasion simply behave in a manner consistent with their religious beliefs, usually driven at least in part by the dictum “don’t ef people over.” The Beverly Hills banker’s wife who informs you she is a “very good Christian” and therefore is completely trustworthy will cheat the bejesus out of you faster than you can say, “Goddammit, she stiffed me on the bill!”
3. “Cancel at any time.”
If you sign up for a trial offer on youthimafying face cream, Fabletics or download the Kylie Jenner app, you are doomed and will not be able to terminate your ongoing eternal til-the-end-of-time paid subscription until you cancel your credit cards, assume another identity and move to Bolivia.
4. “Free 5-night stay!”
Come on now, nothing is free. Not love, not shelter, not food and certainly not a 5-night stay at the Waikiki Hilton. My husband at the time convinced me to attend a timeshare seminar in exchange for 5 nights in Hawaii. (Full disclosure, he had a yummy English accent which he used to talk me into marrying him despite all the obvious reasons I should do no such thing, so the timeshare seminar wasn’t really that much of a stretch.)
Having prequalified my income (with that accent who needs an income?), assuring the seminar hosts we could afford a timeshare if we so desired to purchase one, we drove to Anaheim where we sat in an airless dining room at a 1-star hotel not associated with Disneyland in order to learn about a timeshare opportunity, which in and of itself was the equivalent of a colonoscopy in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In the parking lot outside the Anaheim Carriage Inn we pinkie-swore no matter how convincing they were, we would not fall prey to the call-to-action. We would claim our vouchers and be enjoying mai tais on a lanai before you could say “we are nobody’s timeshare bitches.”
In order to get the vouchers there was an American Ninja-type gauntlet to navigate—six stations manned by increasingly hostile salespeople fresh off a production of Glengarry Glen Ross. To give you just a little taste of the shakedown, the representative at the first table was a friendly man in his early 20s, wearing dad jeans and a sweater vest. By Table 3 the salesperson had aged 30 years and his brown polyester suit smelled faintly of kerosene. The guy at Table 5 wore shirtsleeves, sweat-stained under the arms, and from the prison tats on both forearms looked like he meant business when he growled, “You don’t wanna walk away from this.”
We wanted to run, but the whole point of the exercise was to obtain the golden ticket—the “free 5 night stay” voucher. We had come too far to turn back. En route to the last table—the voucher table—where people who bought in enjoyed sparkling cider from paper cups, we were harangued by accusations of “you’re liars, poor ass cheats, nobodies.” Yes, we were called all those things loudly enough for everyone in Anaheim to hear.
At the voucher table we learned that our “free” 5 night stay in Waikiki would cost us $2,350 in taxes, fees and bullshit.
5. Trust no one with an English accent.