Sometimes you just need to get away.
That’s how we’d been feeling after planning and executing three intense weeks of family activities centered on thirteen-year-old Amir’s bar mitzvah this past summer. All the details, the organizing, the meals and parties had taken their toll and we were just plain pooped.
That’s how we found ourselves at a five star all-inclusive resort in Antalya on the “Turkish Riviera”
The best way to describe the Hotel Papillion is that it's like a Club Med, where one price covers everything. Waiters take your drink orders at the pool and the mini-bar is free...and restocked daily (that alone is worth the price of admission). There are bountiful all-you-can-eat meals dished out three times a day, a waffle stand, ice cream cart and lavish entertainment spectacles served up every night.
After so much activity at home, for once we planned absolutely nothing. We would do nothing. We would think about nothing. We’d just relax around the glorious pool reading our trashy novels while the kids shimmied up and down the two enormous water slides.
When ten-year-old Merav precociously announced “It doesn’t get any better than this,” we knew we’d come to the right place.
That was until Merav noticed.
“What is that lady wearing?” she asked.
Or not wearing, as the case turned out to be.
“Ummm...that’s called a...a thong,” I answered, not sure whether to avert my eyes…or hers.
“Oh, like the shoes,” Merav answered matter of factly, her logical brain in motion. “Does it hurt to wear?” she continued.
“I really wouldn’t know, sweetie...hey I’ll race you to the waterfall,” I said, trying to change the subject.
I whipped off my glasses and we jumped into the water, both of us shrieking with delight. We then swam to reach the bridge that connected the waterslide area with the pool bar.
“Pssst...” Merav whispered. “Abba, look over there. That woman...she isn’t wearing a top!”
Apparently, our vacation paradise wasn’t 100% all-inclusive after all.
“Where?” I demanded, too urgently I realize in retrospect.
“Don’t look,” Merav said. “That would be cheating on Imma.”
Not that I could anyway. Without my glasses, I’m as blind as a bat in a bad bikini. Still I wondered: had I inadvertently stumbled upon the real reason God made some men nearsighted?
“Doesn’t she know she’s naked? Merav asked.
Clearly this was going to be harder to explain than the time last summer when, while vacationing in California, we accidentally wandered onto a nude beach. Then, at least, it was just for an hour. This time, we were here for three whole days.
With Merav waiting for an answer, what I said next was going to be crucial. I had to choose between talking tough and laying down some biblically-inspired laws of modesty, or offering up a bit of touchy-feely parenting advice.
I went for the politically correct.
“You know, Merav,” I said, “in some parts of Europe, it’s very common for women to sunbathe this way...it’s not what we would do but that doesn’t make it bad. Different people do different things. As long as no one gets hurt and we all respect each other...”
“Well, if you ask me, it’s gross,” Merav interrupted.
“Oh, well, yes. That too,” I said. But secretly I was delighted she was grossed out.
Despite my best efforts at framing the world through the kind of "I’m OK, you’re OK" lens I grew up with, my daughter had formed her own views. And as far as modesty goes, she was erring on the side of suitable bathing attire. Which was just fine for me, her protective father.
“So what should we do?” I asked.
“I don’t care so much,” Merav answered. “I just won’t look.”
“That sounds good.” I said, “Neither will I.”
Just then, Merav was struck by a flash of insight...and horror. She had worked out a workable approach for father and daughter. But as she thought of her thirteen-year-old big brother, she turned to me with true concern:
“But what about Amir?” she asked.
“It’s OK,” I said, letting out a breath. “He’s nearsighted too!”