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Linda Catchup: Where Are They (The Boys) Now?

Puerto Plata

I feel like a bad bad person for not working more on finishing up the Linda Catchup series. But there’s only one of me and I can’t be a good person all the time. Nobody can.

So in an effort to ease my way back into writing more “Linda Catchup”, I’ve decided to start with a small update blog as a way to say hey remember the dudes of Linda Catchup? So here goes.

Before (how they were described in the first chapter) and Now.

Before: “Wally was single and reckless, living at home with his parents at almost 30. He suffered from a very short fuse, literally and figuratively, but was fun to have fun with. His chip sat on his shaved shoulders. He shaved his whole body twice a week, for nobody in particular, and for anybody he could get naked with. He was always read to party.”

Now: Wally went through major growing pains after returning from that Puerto Plata trip, and it was not pretty for a good while, but as of the date of this blog I can tell you that he’s no longer living in his parents’ home! He’s even advanced at work on the docks and is soon to become a first-time daddy!

Before: “Then there was Ludo, undeniably a ginger but his very closely shaved head looked fuzzy blonde most of the time. He was married and restless in middle age, and he was the oldest of the four dockers on the trip. Back in Belgium he lived with his wife of 2 years and 7 children. They were children he’d neither fathered nor raised, but he was their faithful dad for years. This was the first real vacation Ludo had ever taken in his life, and he already dreaded going back home to Belgium before the trip even started.”

Now: Ludo is still employed as a dockworker, and remains skinny as hell, but he is divorced now. That’s all I’m going to say about that. There was major drama following the trip, and shit got ugly fast and sporadically, but I am happy for him that he is doing his thing now and that he’s moved on with his life.

Before: “Then there was Koen. Koen had striking dark eyes and hair, and a square jaw that ran in his family line of men. He was always thinking, either thinking about or thinking through something. I noticed this about him right away. He was also the most reserved and the only single one too, in the group. He would share a room with Davy on the trip.”

Now: Koen is godfather to my son, my son with Davy. Koen and his girlfriend Xandra opened a fitness focused eatery in Ghent, and they are thriving. And yes, Koen continues to think a lot, all the time. He’s always thinking. I love this about him. And Davy and I always enjoy seeing Koen. As does our little Noah. Our friendship is a special one.

NoahPepe

Noah and Pepe Koen this past NYE…

~

Before: “Last, but not least there was Davy. He and Koen both had a mop of hair, Davy’s blonde and Koen’s black, compared to the shaved heads of Wally and Ludo. Davy was also one of those guys who always had a girlfriend, but always smelled single anyway. Single has a scent.”

Now: Davy doesn’t smell single anymore. Some may actually say he smells like a DILF. And the chip on his shoulder is significantly smaller than it was in 2010 in Puerto Plata, but it’s still there.

They never go away.

They resurface.

Linda Catchup will hopefully rise again sooner than later.

Always dishing,

Jun

Yes, Linda Catchup Will Return

LindaCatchup

Just because it’s the new year everybody’s extra sensitive about things they were already sensitive about the prior year and It’s natural. Or maybe it’s just me and I’m projecting onto “everybody” but probably not. But I’ve noticed a lot of things already in the new year.

Everybody’s more vocal about things. Like, people whose birthday fall during this week seem loud about it being their respective birthdays. And some readers are loud about wanting a return of Linda Catchup, “since it’s 2014,” which I love. I shared a lot of details enough to scratch the surface. Your reading and then subsequent outpour of feedback was tremendous, and invaluable and I’m grateful for it. The following, for the story of how I met my husband was large, but my writing was far from perfect. You all made it fun!

As far as it being 2014? Yes. It is.

We all have things to get done that we’re aware of or maybe aware that we’re in denial of.

I’m being vocal now and asking that readers not get rude or inappropriate in their requests for Linda Catchup. I realize I’m actually speaking to a relatively small number of people but it’s something I have to ask. But let’s not ruin things for everyone. This is why we can’t have nice things. I’ve got things that I need to get done before Linda Catchup makes its way up the list.

I’m not intentionally holding back anything. Give me a break. I just have a lot of shit to do.

That was a great cliffhanger to leave you all with, wasn’t it? Please confirm.

So many readers have mentioned wanting a return of more Food Blogs and I owe one reader, Cameron, a Kimchi Blog. I’m so late on that but I have some video footage of my mother making kimchi when she was here visiting two years ago, so it’ll be a momz combination blog. I promise.

Seriously though, I started the first five days of the new year on my period and that SUCKS but I haven’t been very vocal about that until now. And then there’s everyone who’s started working out and dieting or quitting smoking or drinking or whatever resolution it is that’s making people get gym memberships and sessions with their personal trainers or shrinks. I can’t help but notice these things.

I am thrilled about one girlfriend who told me she was going to give her husband more blowjobs. I am. Thrilled.

My Sex Blogs make some readers squirm and they could probably do without it but I appreciate all the readership and honesty in comments. My mother-in-law, Carine, is a faithful reader of all my blogs and I sometimes feel bad when she unsuspectingly stumbles upon one of my sex blogs mid-way. She’s always a great sport though, as is my husband Davy. My sex blogs and all blogs, and especially Linda Catchup, could only happen with the support and trust of Davy. Without that I’d have no inspiration to tell our tale.

Yes, in 2014, Linda Catchup will return this year just not right away. Come along for the ride and thank you for your patience. I’d serve nuts for the wait if I could.

Thanks everyone!

Always dishing,

Jun

 

 

Linda Catchup: Chapter Three

LindaCatchup

Chapter One

Chapter Two

* * *

Chapter Three

The rest of dinner on our second night consisted of the best waiter service we never even asked for, but on account of Mr. Banana. Mr. Banana had sent the message to most of men on the resort’s staff that Jeena was to be watched when he wasn’t around. He wanted her to be his.

She was to be treated like a princessa, Mr. Banana told the boys all over resort grounds.

The boys all complied but Jeena was no different or special compared to any of the other guests Mr. Banana had fucked before her. They weren’t complaining though, because they loved speaking in Spanish under their breath so Jeena couldn’t hear the names they called her. The wait staff smiled to her face and yet tore her apart with their eyes and they called her every variation of slut and whore existing on the Dominican streets. I could see what was happening but I waited and watched.

Jo insisted to me over dinner that Jeena always fell on a dick on every vacation she took, and then always swore it was true love. She said this right in front of Jeena while Jeena sat there rolling her eyes and glancing at me occasionally, looking defeated and quite defenseless. To me Jo and Jeena were like Dumb and Dumber almost, and they fed off each other like cartoon characters.

Mariana, who’d sworn and vouched for them initially, started bitching at them more and more. I was referee. As the evening progressed Mariana told me how Jo and Jeena got shit-faced drunk and back at the pool when I’d gone down for my nap.

Apparently Davy and his crew had gone to their rooms after parting ways with me initially. They’d ditched their bags, stripped down to swim trunks, and gone straight to the main pool on the beachfront where the girls were, where Morning Watercise and Pool Volleyball and Water Polo happens every day throughout the day.

The Belgians ran straight into Mariana and the drunk sisters Torre who slurred and shrieked.

“Show us your dick!”

Jo and Jeena had shouted this over and over to Davy and Koen and Wally and Ludo. The Belgians had never met Americans like that. They left the pool area immediately and sought solace in one of the other many pools at the resort. They also had dinner in a restaurant other than the one the girls and I dined in. The Belgians and the Americans ended up never running into each other again that night and besides, Ludo was on a secret mission.

Ludo intended on having sex with a prostitute while he was in Puerto Plata and he wanted to get it out of the way the first night. He told only Wally, because he shared a room with him and would need Wally to give him some privacy. So after dinner and drinks, Ludo told the guys he was going back to his room “to call Lotte and the kids back in Belgium,” leaving the other three to drink at the bar.

Davy and Koen had thought nothing of Ludo’s absence. Wally had smirked to himself the entire 25 minutes Ludo was gone, because he knew Ludo was fucking some Dominican girl, and for money. Prostitutes are never hard to find if you’re actually looking for one, especially on vacation in the Caribbean.

* * *

The next morning, my second morning in the Dominican Republic and Davy’s first, my mission was to distance myself from the girls, eat breakfast and find a bed by the beachfront pool and not move except to pee and eat. The occasional jump into the pool to wade to the swim-up bar was also in my plans. It’s all I wanted to do that day.

I did find my spot by the pool, but of course the girls all sat together. We grouped four chairs together for “us girls.”

Oh well, so much for distance.

Mariana was being incredibly sweet and particularly servile to me that morning, offering to help lube me up on sunscreen and getting me a drink every time she got one for herself. When Jo and Jeena jumped into the pool together, Mariana turned to me wanting to talk shit about them just like she had the entire night before when she and I were alone in our room. She now couldn’t stop. All of a sudden her lifelong friends became her misery. Mariana wanted me to hate Jo and Jeena with her so it could be two against two. I wouldn’t, and she grew angry at me. I felt like I was in grade school.

Mariana had been the third wheel to the two sisters growing up, and she was done with that. The more I learned about Mariana, the more I realized she must have been hurt really bad, and more than once, to be so angry all the time. Yet she seemed to sincerely want a friendship with me.  So we rubbed each other down with sun tan lotion and lay there tanning and chatting until the Morning Watercise whistle went off. The animation team all wore whistles to help them be more animated I suppose. It was annoying to me.

There was no point in trying to carry on a conversation, ever, when Morning Watercise was going on. Mr. Banana and all his fruity team pumped the music up so loud, aggressively recruiting participants within an arm’s reach. When Mr. Banana ran over to me and tried to get me to watercise in the pool, I looked him straight in the eye and said no. He was just doing his job, but he’d also dipped his dick into Jeena and so no. He understood my no right away.

No, I will not get up from where I’m finally relaxing. No, I am nothing like Jeena or Jo or Mariana for that matter. No, I paid to relax and avoid exercise and not watercise. So no is no.

Meanwhile he managed to get Jo and Jeena and a good group of other ladies into the pool. Mr. Guava, who was half Mr. Banana’s height and twice as dark, flirted with Jo. It was cute, and then I realized they were serious. Mr. Guava and Jo Torre, yes, started to eye-fuck each other while doing aerobics in the pool. It was odd but perfect. Mr. Guava had a thing for big women regardless of citizenship, and Jo had a thing for anyone who had a thing for her.

Jo and Jeena probably had the same amount of sex in their lives, but Jo had never had a real boyfriend. Jeena had. Jo decided that morning that she would have Mr. Guava. She told me of her intentions and I couldn’t believe it, but I could.

So I continued to lay there with my eyes closed, sunning tits-up topless, and I didn’t even notice when the Belgians descended upon our pool. Jeena noticed, and she noticed Wally the most. Their crazy eyes met and it was lust at first sight. Mr. Banana was forgotten mid-watercise. All Mr. Banana could do was watch and blow his whistle to the music as Jeena floated away towards the Belgians.

* * *

The Belgians were all in different moods that morning. Ludo was feeling like shit in his soul after wasting 3 days’ salary on a prostitute the night before. She’d let him come fast and then explained to him that he could only come once, and then she left. Ludo had been puzzled. He regretted dropping so much cash for a disappointment but then he didn’t consider what he’d done real cheating. It was a hooker and he didn’t like it anyway, he told himself.

Ludo swore Wally to secrecy and of course it was met with oh no I’ll never tell anyone about it. Wally lied through his teeth to Ludo’s face. Wally planned to tell the rest of the guys soon. Wally was just happy Ludo had cheated first out of three of them, including Davy. Wally wanted company in his quest for ass on this vacation and he was satisfied with Ludo’s company. They both enjoyed being deliriously drunk and stupid in their decision-making.

Meanwhile Koen was on a strict diet and fitness plan, and he planned to stay away from alcohol and sluts gone wild. He was the tallest, at just over six feet tall, and Davy was just a little shorter. Wally and Ludo were around the same height and the shortest of the Belgians.

Koen didn’t drop his things on a chair by the pool like the other guys. Koen went off in search of the resort’s gym. He’d just eaten a mountain of egg whites and he needed to get to his weights.

So Davy and Ludo and Wally threw their towels down and kept their sunglasses on and waved goodbye to Koen. Davy had seen me laying their without my top before I’d seen him, and he did his best not to look again. He headed to the swim-up bar and ordered a drink. With my eyes still closed, I watched him out of right eye, which I’d opened just a sliver enough to study him.

I was intrigued. Davy was so hot, yet he was so cold. He ignored me. I said nothing and continued to play dumb to him too, but inside I was like what the fuck. I’d never had to work for ass while on vacation before. Davy was a first.

By the time lunch time rolled around, Wally had winked at me more than once. I took a photo of him looking right at me and cheesing it up and uploaded it to my Facebook right away.

“Flavor of the Day: Belgian,” I’d captioned the photo.

My girlfriends back home ate it up, but Wally became less attractive to me with each passing hour. I was glad for him when he and Jeena finally started making out.

We’d all learned a little bit more about each other by lunch time, and we knew Ludo was the only married one. Neither Wally or Davy came forward about having a girlfriend, and neither Koen nor Ludo said a thing about that point either. But Ludo immediately got placed in the safe zone because he had a wife, and he spoke of her so endearingly you’d never guess he’d ever cheated on her the night before.

All eight of us sat together for lunch that day. Down a long table we all sat and chat. Some chatted more than others. Mariana seemed to enjoy Jeena and Wally’s new romance as fodder for more gossip. It was gossip, and everyone knew it including the wait staff. The princessa was kissing someone not Mr. Banana. I could feel the tension each time the waiters brought us our drinks or more napkins. Their house ketchup, Linda Catchup, was replenished for us at my request. The Belgians took mayo on their fries, but we Americans took ketchup and I love ketchup.

The resort’s Linda Catchup was watery and too sweet but I learned to love it.

Davy was very quiet during lunch, and we seldom spoke directly to each other. We barely looked each other in the eyes. It was almost like he was avoiding me altogether. It made me crazy in my head as I sat there figuring out all the dynamics around our table. It was the oddest group ever and I knew the oddity of it all, would need to be written down one day.

* * *

I spoke a lot with Koen, who sat across from me with a mountain of food sitting atop his plate. There was no separation of meats from veggies from pastas from stews. Koen ate not for pleasure but for the purpose of burning it off into muscle. He told me over lunch all about his daily regimen and I tried to retain all of it, but I was so awed and distracted by his shoveling forkfuls of food into his mouth. The pile cleared from his plate very fast and it was impressive. I felt a bit full after having watched him eat. I’d never seen anyone eat so much so fast, in one sitting, in my life. Koen was a beast.

He was going to go for a run on the beach but he stuck around the pool for a while right after lunch. We’d all returned poolside and bunched all our chairs together. We were a group of eight all of a sudden. It just happened. When Mr. Banana and his team returned for afternoon activities, Mr. Banana was not happy. Jeena ignored Mr. Banana completely and stuck to Wally the whole time, like literally stuck to him, so there was an imaginary peeling sound anytime her skin part from Wally’s.

They’d known each other only three hours but Wally was calling Jeena his wife, and Jo his sister-in-law. Mariana snorted a few times laughing at all of it. I didn’t snort but I laughed inside. My chest hurt so much from not laughing out loud. I was actually jealous of Mariana for a second. She did not give a shit about anyone.

Koen eventually left for his run with his backpack on, down the beach, never to be to seen until dinner. He left Davy and Wally and Ludo alone with us four girls. With Wally attached to Jeena, Ludo chatted up the rest of us and Davy jumped in sometimes too. I could not get a read at all on Davy, but I wasn’t in a rush. I was on vacation.

No big deal. I walked around the pool topless every so often like I had the first day, and I wasn’t the only one. The resort was full of Europeans sun-bathing nude or partially-nude. The new wave of guests brought in a crew of Russian guys too. There was one Russian boy, only 19 but who looked 16, who asked me for a kiss during Beach Volleyball hour. I declined politely. I was sweaty and gross and not expecting a crush. The Russian followed me around most of the day, and it was puppy love for him. I was mortified, and unbeknownst to me, Davy was laughing at me inside.

Davy was studying me too, and he thought I was one of the funniest girls he’d ever laid eyes on. He enjoyed my flashing my breasts occasionally. Thoughts of his girlfriend back home crept into his mind and kept him honest but he had no idea what to make of me either. He too was intrigued.

It turned out both us found each other mysterious enough to slow play it.

* * *

By dinner that night, the Belgians were getting the cold shoulder at the pool and bars. Mr. Banana had sent another message through the staff grapevine, that the Belgians were bad guys. Even Jo and Jeena and Mariana were being treated with poor service. In all my years of traveling, whether or not with RIU, I’d never seen anything like it. Everyone in my group had been blacklisted, except for me.

I’d left an incredibly large tip after our group lunch by the pool, as usual. Even if the girls didn’t want to leave more behind after meals, I always added extra cash. There’s nothing wrong with tipping generously from day one, to be remembered and taken care of the next day and the next, especially if there’s drama brewing.

I began ordering the drinks for everyone in our group, to work around the blacklist, and it worked out okay through dinner. We moved on eventually to the RIU Staff Talent Show the resort presented in the main auditorium, the same auditorium Jeena and Mr. Banana had fucked in the other night. Wally knew nothing of Jeena’s Banana and Jeena made all of us girls swear not to say a word. So we all eight sat there in a semi-circle in the auditorium, smoking cigarettes and cigars and drinking, and keeping secrets from each other while Mr. Banana and all his friends danced on stage.

Jeena and Wally disappeared way before the talent show ever ended. Jeena never returned to her room she shared with Jo. Jeena and Wally had sex all night in his room, and eventually Ludo walked to Jo’s room to bunk up with her. If Jeena wasn’t going to use her bed, then Ludo would. There was no reason for a spare bed to go to waste. Ludo barely got any sleep though because Jo snored so loud in the bed next to him. Jo snored like a monster and it was a sign of her bad health, partly due to smoking but mostly her obesity.

But Jo’s snoring was nothing compared to the Jeena’s wailing during sex with Wally, and Mr. Banana was informed of this.

Linda Catchup: Chapter Two

LindaCatchup

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Most of my first night that vacation was spent with Mariana and Jo, as we searched the hotel grounds for Jeena. I couldn’t even get through the first night with more drama because Jeena went missing without a trace. So we looked for her.

None of us had a flashlight because nobody brings a flashlight to the Dominican Republic right? But there we were past midnight looking for Jeena, and using the light from the screens of our cellphones in the dark. She’d been gone hours. I didn’t know if we were overreacting but I was worried. The resort was big but it wasn’t that big.

* * *

Meanwhile, at the same time in a different time zone, Davy and the dockers were at Brussels International Airport ready to board their flights. Ludo had hugged and kissed his wife Lotte at the gate. She outweighed him by threefold, and nearly crushed him with her goodbye hugs. Wally had the best-looking girl of the three, and as a goodbye he’d shoved his tongue as deep as he could into his girlfriend Ana’s mouth, for one last time. Wally intended on tonguing girls in Puerto Plata too, and he’d already told the other guys of his cheating intentions. Apparently that didn’t stop him from getting all up into Ana’s mouth as a prequel.

Davy said his goodbye to his girlfriend Cindy, while Ana and Lotte took photos of them the entire time. Cindy’s concern over this “guys trip” was branded all over her face that early morning in Brussels. She and Ana and Lotte all worried that their men would drink too much and party too hard without them.

When the trip was originally planned, Wally and Davy had been in-between girlfriends and very single. By the time Puerto Plata rolled around, they were both roughly 5 months into a relationship. This trip would be make-or-break for everyone, from the start.

* * *

By the time the Belgians were flying closer towards the Dominican Republic, we girls had searched everywhere for Jeena, and had circled back to the resort’s main auditorium. I was worried and ready to report Jeena missing. Jo laughed and assured us that Jeena was probably hooking up with someone in some dark corner somewhere on the grounds. She said her sister was a slut, and then calmly lit up a cigarette like no big deal. Mariana laughed, snorting a little bit, and I lit a cigarette up too. I needed to keep my mouth busy and not talking to either Jo or Mariana. It was infuriating.

But Jo was right after all and we found Jeena having sex after all, behind the stage of the auditorium right on the nasty floor. Jeena barely knew the guy banging away at her, and worse, it turned out he worked for the hotel judging from his uniform. There was a no-fucking-the-guests policy for employees of RIU, but apparently not everybody followed policy.

Jeena pretty much looked like she was in love with the dude after one-and-a-half fucks. She was already planning all the babies she’d have with him. Cute little Italian-Dominican baby names had danced in her head, and her eyes had glazed over. Jo dragged Jeena off to their room, and Mariana and I had turned into our beds in our room. It was late, and I knocked out right away.

So that next morning when I awoke, I was tired but still hopeful that my vacation could be be salvaged. Breakfast was civil although Mariana scowled through most of it. She was never happy.

Jeena had strained her neck the entire meal trying to catch a glimpse of her new Dominican love hanging around somewhere. Jo’s eyes looked even more bugged-out that morning, probably from the lack of sleep. But she spoke on maximum volume and brashly, before she ever had her first cup of coffee. I just wanted get by the pool and tan, with ear plugs in.

I did. I lubed myself up with sunscreen and lay topless.  I intended to block everything and everyone out. I was in vacation mode. But this mode lasted all but 5 minutes because the resort’s animation team arrived. The start to the day’s activities and entertainment had begun. “Morning Watercise” was announced to start, which was basically 30 minutes of dancing the Macarena in the pool over and over again.

I ignored it all. I was not planning to move at all from my lounge chair. All I wanted to do was sleep, eat and tan. Jo and Jeena and Mariana had all jumped into the water to participate. I was psyched to finally have some alone time, and I was doing a good job of ignoring all the aerobics music and shouting until Jeena appeared by my side. She begged me to hide her.

Hide her?

* * *

Apparently the guy Jeena had sex with the night before, was there at the pool. He was not only at the pool but turned out to be a part of the animation team, and he was instructing Morning Watercise. His name was Mr. Banana, which she didn’t know the night before, and he was but one tropical fruit on the animation team. Other members of the animation team were named Mr. Papaya, Ms. Guava, Mr. Mango, and the like. Jeena had slept with Mr. Banana.

I loved it!

But it turns out that Mr. Banana was one ugly mofo by the light of day. Hence, Jeena’s jumping out of the pool and pleading with me to help her. She regretted having fucked Mr. Banana. She wanted to hide from him the whole week, and she wanted me to help her. Great.

So most of my morning was spent by Jeena’s side and part of me was enjoying it. She’d brought all the drama upon herself. Mr. Banana tried to get Jeena’s attention repeatedly, and was confused as to why he was being ignored. It couldn’t be his kinky puffy hair or the gigantic outdated braces on his teeth because Jeena didn’t seem to mind the night before, he’d rationalized. Mr. Banana eventually left the poolside, to eat lunch and take his break.

Jeena began to drink. She and Jo drank together, and turned into mean drunks to everyone but each other. It turned out the secret to their getting along, was alcohol. When drunk, which they turned out to be most of that day, they had a bad habit of shouting out things like “Show us your dick!” to passing men. Mariana found it hilarious. I didn’t, and neither did Mr. Banana upon his return.

Once I witnessed Jo and Jeena doing this a handful of times, I got up and gathered my belongings. I told the girls I had a headache and that I was going to take a nap.

“That’s so boring,” Mariana said to me.

I ignored her. I was actually in shock at how rude she was. I wondered how long I could keep up avoiding these girls in between meals. I walked away, towards my room, which I shared with Mariana. I was embarrassed. Not only didn’t I want hotel guests to think this is what Americans were like, I also didn’t want them thinking I was anything like Jo or Jeena or Mariana.

I was halfway between the pool and my room when I first encountered them, the Belgians. I didn’t know the four guys were from Belgium, but their rolling luggage and pale skin gave them away that they were newbies at the resort. They were white. Actually Wally was brown from his addiction to tanning beds, but Davy and Koen and Ludo were pretty white. They could have been green for all I cared. I was just happy to see some eye candy of the European kind. I couldn’t even help myself. I let out a welcome.

“Well, welcome!” exactly, is what I said.

Wally had done a double then triple-take, and Ludo grinned at me from ear to ear. They’d both removed their sunglasses and replied with a thank you. Their accent was swoon-worthy. Koen had barely looked at me and never turned his head, while Davy did and offered me the faintest smile. I remember he had peered at me over his Ray-Bans as he walked on by, but he never took them off.

I’d gone to my room as planned, and I took my nap. It was long and delicious and I woke up hungry and in time for dinner. Mariana had returned to our room by then, and was walking around wrapped up like a mummy in towels after taking a shower. She was insanely prudish about showing me her body. Sharing a room with Mariana felt like summer camp in junior high school.

I joined Mariana and the two sisters for dinner that evening, and this time I was the one straining my neck to see if the four boys were at the same restaurant in our resort. I didn’t see them anywhere, and I mentioned it to the girls over dessert. They knew exactly whom I was talking about, and Jo told me that they’d met the same boys by the pool earlier that day, after I’d left for my nap.

What?!

Chapter Three

 

Linda Catchup: Chapter One

LindaCatchup

Linda Catchup and how I met my husband…

Chapter One

Being unemployed and back in school at 34 years old, to finish my undergraduate degree, was not quite where I thought I’d be in January 2010. I’d been out of work for a year-and-a-half by then, after layoffs on Wall Street. I’d used my severance package to travel for a year, and then returned to school full-time instead of looking for a job. It was all about me and what was good for me. I’d avoided finishing my degree for long enough, and there was nothing like being unemployed with the masses to give me the boost to return to studies.

After breezing through six courses at Hunter College, with a perfect GPA, I decided to reward myself. I booked a cheap JetBlue flight online, out of JFK and into Puerto Plata, for the end of May. I deserved a vacation. Just for me and just for relaxing, not even sex was on the itinerary. I was going through something.

Incidentally, during my unemployment I became more of a Facebook addict than ever. I wasn’t using Twitter yet, but through Facebook I reconnected with lots of old acquaintances from my past. Mariana was one of these reconnects. She friended me, and I accepted, because she’d once worked with my ex-boyfriend and I vaguely remembered her. Then we met for coffee and I mentioned my trip to DR in casual conversation. By the end of coffee, Mariana was booked on the same flight to DR that I was. Just like that. It just happened. She was so insistent and smartphone-ready.

I remember the day we left for our trip…

I’d arrived way too early to the airport that Saturday morning, anxious to tan and wash away four months of textbooks and finals. No more hallways of Hunter College. Just beach for days was on the agenda. With coffee and $70 worth of Cosmo and other latest mags in-hand, I just wanted to sit at the gate and read, and possibly get a chair massage at one of those XpresSpa places that had just opened at the airport.

Well, I didn’t get my alone time because Mariana arrived way too early too, and just a few minutes behind me. Shit, I’d thought, here comes Mariana.

Mariana was very plump, and she’d plumply flip-flopped towards me with her wet curly hair and flailing arms. It was embarrassingly obvious that Mariana was bound for a beach destination. Actually, she looked like a straight-up beach ornament.

“Hey Jun,” she’d screeched ignoring my shushing her and continued, “Damn, I thought I was early!”

She was early, and so I’d kissed her cheek that she’d shoved at my lips. Mariana was also way too loud for 6AM, and I’d discover soon how loud she was no matter AM or PM. I regretted ever telling Mariana about my trip in the first place, and I regretted having friended her so quickly on Facebook. Somehow my solo trip had turned into the “girls trip” Mariana had always wanted, and a 4-girl girls trip at that. The thing is, there were two more girls coming with us.

I barely knew Mariana. I’d be blind-vacationing with the other two, Joanna and Jeena. Sisters. Mariana knew them her whole life, she’d said. They’d all grown up together on the same block in Queens. She’d vouched for them.

“Jo” and Jeena eventually arrived, late and in all their incredible and stereotypical Queens-Italian glory. There were multiple screeches of heys, and what’s ups between the four of us, as if I’d known all of them my whole life too. I was drowning in their perfume and getting their acrylic nails caught in my hair during all the hugs and air-kisses. There we were, a Korean, a Greek, and two red-wine-blooded Italians boarding JetBlue Flight 811. In that moment at the JetBlue gate, I felt like I was making a big mistake going on the trip.

But it was too late, and I stayed put. I deserved this vacation. I intended to enjoy it despite my qualms.

* * *

I slept most of the flight, because that’s what Dramamine does to me even in non-drowsy form. It turns out I was one of the lucky ones on the flight who did sleep. When we touched down in Puerto Plata, Mariana told me that Jo and Jeena had fought like drunk cats for most of the flight but not to worry. So I worried, and I sized the sisters up in my peripheral vision while waiting at Customs. I felt like I was burning up in the Dominican heat waves of the Puerto Plata airport and the added stress wasn’t helping.

I knew Jo could easily take Jeena down, as she had at least 100 pounds on her. Jeena had escaped the fat gene in the family but had instead been bestowed a pair of hips as wide as a doorway, and an ass that three people could play poker on. Jeena also happened to have the personality of a poker table, unless she was drunk, and the IQ of one too regardless of sobriety. Yet she still fought like a maniac with her 300-pound older sister.

Both Jo and Jeena still lived at home with their parents. They both worked at their family’s tiny cannoli shop in the same neighborhood. It was deep in Queens, as was their New York accent.

By the time our shuttle bus got us to the hotel I was craving some space of my own to slumber in the sun. I wanted to get away from the potentially insane travel mates I’d arrived with. Sharing one week’s time with these girls was looking bleaker by the minute. Then we got to our hotel. The vibe was just all kinds of wrong.

Mariana had booked the hotel because I “had booked the flights,” and Mariana had insisted on being “partners” in the planning of the trip. I’d been okay with that, but had asked that we stay somewhere decent. No dumps, I’d told her. Of course not, she’d replied.

It turned out to be a dump. The hotel lobby was musty and warm when it should have enveloped us in chilly air conditioning. There was no colorful welcome drink nearby either. Large parts of the floors ran with mildew here and there. My jaw dropped open, just like it does anytime I’m about to lose my shit. Mariana had booked a hotel and not a resort, which you can get away with in Punta Cana but not in Puerto Plata.

Mariana pretended not to notice the grimy lobby while Jo and Jeena looked a little skeeved. This relieved me, but we were still stuck in that hellhole hotel. None of us said anything while Mariana checked us in at the front desk, and not a word was said in the elevator ride up to our rooms. We were all waiting for someone else to say something, and I knew Jo or Jeena would blow up any minute now. I waited for it, knowing it would be worth the wait.

The hotel seemed to be bustling, but with locals. It turned out our hotel opened its grounds to locals on Saturdays for a small fee. Mariana had not only booked a dump of a hotel, but she’d checked us in on the worst day of the week for a deeper discount. I knew our hotel was too cheap to be good. We got what we paid for and there were no pretty European boys to be eyed in sight, just unsupervised children running about. The “private beachfront” turned out to be less private and more local human traffic, and I felt like I’d watched lots of movies start out like this where all four girls don’t make it out alive.

My thoughts were interrupted by an old man’s voice. A cute old white man with a cane wearing a Hawaiian shirt, asked me if I could walk him to the hotel restaurant right there on the beach. It turned out he was blind. I thought he was gangster for getting on a plane and vacationing in the Dominican Republic, alone and blind. His accent was British. I’ll never forget him.

I walked him to the restaurant, and it turned out to be a buffet lunch. I told him so, and I asked him if he’d like some help plating his lunch. How else was a blind hotel guest supposed to eat at a buffet? I shook my head at his situation, and at mine too. It was all too odd for me.

So I’d grabbed the blind man a tray and plate, and I walked him around the serving stations describing what was what and what looked good. I told him at the salad bar that the tomatoes looked soggy and there were flies around the cucumber, and he laughed and said he’d pass on those two veggies. When I saw actual chicken feathers on some of the wings at the hot bar I asked the old man if he’d like me to pick the feathers off for him, or if he’d rather go with the pork instead. He went with the pork, and he had some soup. I grabbed bread and butter for him, and I sat with him while the waitstaff brought his drink. He asked me a question while we waited.

“So are you and your friends having fun?”

I wanted to tell him that the three monsters on the beach weren’t my friends, and that I hated the hotel but I didn’t. I answered instead something cliché, because he didn’t need to know how much this vacation was sucking for me. He sensed something though, and he spoke again.

“You’re a doll for helping me the way you did, but you wouldn’t be here sitting with me like this if you were having fun.”

I laughed. He called me out. Despite his blindness he could still see everything. His drink arrived, and I grabbed his hands as I said goodbye. This isn’t the worst place to be in the world, he told me as I walked away. I had to bite my tongue because I wanted to tell him he’d see what a shit-hole the place actually was, if he could see in the first place. Then I realized what he’d actually meant. There were indeed worse places in the world to be. It still didn’t mean I wasn’t leaving.

When I got back to the beach the three girls were fighting. Of course.

Jo and Jeena had inevitably ganged up on Mariana for picking a shitty hotel. They were all so loud and rolling their eyes at each other simultaneously. My vacation flashed before my eyes. I started to my plan of escape.

I calmly told Mariana to go to the front desk and cancel our rooms for a full refund, and that the rest of us would grab our bags and meet her back at the front desk. Jo and Jeena finally shut up and nodded in agreement with me. We were going to stay somewhere else. Mariana flapped her lips in disagreement and so I told her she could stay. I would leave without her is exactly what I’d said.

Mariana shuffled off to the front desk, and twenty minutes later we were in a taxi heading up a few beaches to the RIU resorts. I’d stayed at the RIU before, and I trusted them. The cab ride was a nightmare. We were all sweaty and cranky.

Mariana was pouting like a baby pig about all the bullshit she’d gone through having to cancel our reservations.There was a chunk in penalty fee for the two cancelled rooms, and a 2-week waiting period for the money to be put back on Mariana’s credit card. And the two sisters were still bickering.

* * *

We finally reached the RIU resorts. The lobby was dry and cool and there were signs of good vacation life everywhere. It smelled like coconut and the sea breeze. It felt right. I didn’t care when Mariana asked me to pay for our room, because she’d maxed out her credit card on the last hotel.

I did care when Jo and Jeena asked me to pay for their room, because they didn’t own credit cards. They’d brought cash, and not enough to cover an unexpected hotel room for a week. They assured me that they were good for the money and as if it was collateral, they promised to take me to their family’s cannoli shop when we got back to New York if I wanted. I can’t even make this shit up. I didn’t care about cannoli in Queens. Here we all were, four adult women around the same age, and I was the only actual adult.

So I booked two rooms on my credit. I decided half the day wasted was enough, and I honestly didn’t have the heart to say no anyway. Leaving them in the Dominican Republic “homeless” is easier said than done, and I couldn’t do it. They were good for the money.

I’d get my money back from all of them eventually, right?

* * *

Meanwhile my future husband, Davy, was back in Ghent getting packed for his planned guys trip. Davy was en route to the same RIU resort in Puerto Plata that I was now in, with his three colleagues from work. Guys. Colleagues, because that’s what Belgians call each other, and really it sounds better than “coworkers.” Davy and the guys all worked at the Port of Ghent. It was a Belgian dockers trip, and each guy carried a chip on his shoulder worthy of a short story of its own.

Mind you, I had no idea what a docker was at the time.

And it should be said that the four dockers themselves didn’t know that much about each other either, outside of work, except for bare bones. There was Wally and Ludo, who were closer to each other than they were to either Davy or Koen. Koen was the fourth man, and last-minute addition to the crew. Koen had taken the place of another docker who was laid-up in the hospital missing one leg, after a crane accident on the docks just before the trip happened. I remember thinking later how their work sounded so dangerous, and how hot they must all look at work. But they were all so different from each other the four Belgians.

Wally and Ludo shared one room, but they also shared lots of other things in common. On the surface they were both short in height, and they were from the rougher parts of town back in Ghent, and they carried the air of being up to something bad. They got along for a reason.

Wally was single and reckless, living at home with his parents at almost 30. He suffered from a very short fuse, literally and figuratively, but was fun to have fun with. His chip sat on his shaved shoulders. He shaved his whole body twice a week, for nobody in particular, and for anybody he could get naked with. He was always read to party.

Then there was Ludo, undeniably a ginger but his very closely shaved head looked fuzzy blonde most of the time. He was married and restless in middle age, and he was the oldest of the four dockers on the trip. Back in Belgium he lived with his wife of 2 years and 7 children. They were children he’d neither fathered nor raised, but he was their faithful dad for years. This was the first real vacation Ludo had ever taken in his life, and he already dreaded going back home to Belgium before the trip even started.

Then there was Koen. Koen had striking dark eyes and hair, and a square jaw that ran in his family line of men. He was always thinking, either thinking about or thinking through something. I noticed this about him right away. He was also the most reserved and the only single one too, in the group. He’d share a room with Davy on the trip.

Last, but not least there was Davy. He and Koen both had a mop of hair, Davy’s blonde and Koen’s black, compared to the shaved heads of Wally and Ludo. Davy was also one of those guys who always had a girlfriend, but always smelled single anyway. Single has a scent.

Everything about Davy intrigued me first and most, of the four dockers.

Davy didn’t know it yet, but he was packing for the trip that would change his life forever.