Photography © Chad Parenteau
A Critique of Paradise
It was day five in paradise and the collective hangover was threatening to put me down for the count if I didn’t feed it with more of the overpriced and watered down booze the hotel had provided for my friends and I.
The ibuprofen helped though.
As it always did, the three little crimson tablets I pulled from a bag of about 30 which had originally been destined to go to a friend with a pneumonia, helped to dull the painful throbbing between my ears that served as a reminder of last nights… and the nights before, over indulgences.
This was all at about Five AM, local, not home time. Not that it really mattered any more. The thought and the discomfort of waking up earlier than normal was nothing compared to the tedium which had set in around day two and now offered no chance of respite.
We were all of us stuck in Paradise and there was no way out.
It says something about our character as humans when we are presented with a ‘perfect’ scenario of leisure and
accommodation but, after a while we want nothing more than to venture back out into the frying pan and pain of modern day society. This human character, so notably lauded in the past, demands struggle and challenge which this spot did little to accommodate, even though it so excellently met the other needs of us; food, distraction, booze, and a semblance of control over our existence here in this eternal groundhog day of food, distraction and alcohol.
The tedium was deadly.
I could feel it in my bones, see it in my friend’s eyes and hear it in all of our voices. Sure, we hid it most of the time, because who really wants to be the one to say ‘Hey man, this sucks. This Paradise, this heaven is terrible!” We joked about it though, “I want a refund on this trip! It’s 2 degrees too hot and the women aren’t pretty enough! This is bullshit!”
Time went on.
As is with most resorts which sat on beautiful blue waters on the Caribbean with dark and mysterious jungled hills behind, there were a multitude of things to do… as long as you were planning to leave after only a day or two.
There was a boardwalk well accessible at only a mile (or two) away via footpath, there was a pool, the ocean, a casino, two bars, buffets, beds, gift shops, games to check out at the pool, the bars again, the pool, sleeping, sunbathing, getting sun burned (multiple times, can I get a Skin cancer! Hallelujah!), local TV, coffee, more booze, working out (Right) casino, bar, sleep, pool, bar again, food until you pop, bar, bar, bar, bar, hangover. Sleep. Hangover. Ibuprofen. Booze.
Then I passed out again. For how long, at least when I woke up, I couldn’t tell you… but my alarm clock kept track for me. Six hours gone in the blink of an eye, and the hangover which I’d sought to battle earlier had not abated; the three little crimson pills had either worn off or had never worked. The magic of modern day science.
I imagined the couple next door in the thin walled room, in this five-star resort, could hear the groan as I moved my legs for what felt like the first time in a year, as surely as I had heard their angry lovemaking and loving breakup the night before. I lunged out of the cheap down bed which had become a prison for me and many other hedonists like me before.
The day was well underway for most but mostly a mystery for me. Or would have been if we, my friends and I, weren’t trapped in this Paradise.
I could see why some chose The Lake of Fire over the Pearly Gates. I could now understand why the French called The Orgasm Le Petit Mort, The Little Death, as the pleasure sapped your soul and took you away bit by bit by bit. It was happening here, with us, in our Paradise on the blue waters of the Caribbean with each Mojito downed in quick succession; with each dive into the salty bath water that lapped at glassy shores; with each ray of sun lancing out from scattered clouds burning our pale skins used to the full cover of Northern coastal climes; with each rich meal comped out by the hotel and with each inch of our expanding guts. Each action, no matter how benign made us a little… Less than we were before.
At least in Hell things were promised to be interesting.
In paradise the pleasure was supreme and never ending. And always, always the same.
I cracked my door and in the moment the first ray of sun hit me fully I knew that today, like the others before, held only the promise of nothing new and nothing exciting except the ever present allure of the bar and the flies flitting around the dim light it provided in this overwhelming, accommodating, paradise.
Nicholas E. Timm is an Native American graduate of The Evergreen State College in Washington State and is currently a Masters student at The University of Washington. At The Evergreen State College he earned a BS in Business Science with a minor in Statistical Analysis. He serves as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force and flies on C-17A aircraft.
Chad Parenteau is Associate Editor of Oddball Magazine.