Subourbon Mom

Loud Talkers in Bermuda

Nature has balances: night and day, sunshine and rain, Quiet Talkers…and me.

For whatever reason, I am “blessed” with a loud, scratchy voice, and a Woody Woodpecker laugh that reverberates around a room somewhere near the decibel level of a Who concert. Oh don’t get me wrong, it’s come in handy a few times, like when I was coaching and lifeguarding. Now, however, it’s a little bit of an issue.


We were recently in Bermuda for a work event, and I realized I’d forgotten how quiet Bermudians can be. I understand why Bermudians talk the way they do—softly, leaning in slightly, as if someone might overhear the conversation and report it to the Royal Gazette. Actually, that is exactly what can happen when you have 60,000 alcoholics, er, residents, clinging to a rock in the middle of the Atlantic. That’s a lot of folks on a 20-square-mile island with something to say, which they do with a wit that is funny and brutal at the same time.

I used to live in Bermuda, so I know how loud we Americans can sound to the untrained ear. Eventually, after three years or so of being there, I got pretty good at lowering my voice, but that skill has clearly been neglected since we moved.

When it comes to social events, my friend Bruce has a favorite saying: “If you’re at a party and you can’t find the asshole, it’s probably you.”

Um, I’m pretty sure the people at the event last week in Bermuda thought it was me. There were about 40 Bermudians in the room, and I’m fairly certain everyone turned at one point or another in the evening and tried to figure out one of three things:

1) how they could rescue the poor Quiet Talker stuck with me;

2) who that woman was with the man-voice was and why wasn’t she wearing her hearing aide? OR

3) who let the Southern version of Fran Drescher into the party?

images-12At first I was annoyed, and toyed with the idea of talking in my fake Long Island accent that makes my Southern skin crawl. (“Oh my Gaawud, Vinny…would you look at this gaawbage? I could get this at home for ‘tree daawllahs.”) But I was at work and had a professional image to maintain, so I decided to study the Bermudian Quiet Talker technique instead.

I have to say you Quiet Talkers have a way of drawing people in to listen to you that I envy. I never did figure out just what it was, except possibly my natural American inferiority complex, or maybe my American penchant for British accents, but either way I remained captivated.

Unfortunately, your verbal sparring is wasted on Loud Talkers. When you zing that witty insult at us, we often aren’t sure if we heard you correctly…so most of the time, we’ll just keep on plowing ahead, oblivious to your skills.

Yes, we are clearly two very different social species, but if nature didn’t provide some balance, and there were only Loud Talkers like me, the world would sound like a forest full of crows (or a tree full of Kiskadees, for you Bermudians), cawing and squawking at each other all day long. If there were only Quiet Talkers, the world would be filled with misunderstandings, because someone misheard someone else, rednecks would have to find some other way to communicate after a beer or six, and sports stadiums would sound like churches.

So in the interest of peace, diversity, and keeping sports teams employed, let’s keep the conversation going–we Loud Talkers will keep leaning in to hear what you have to say, and you Quiet Talkers keep leaning back and listening.

If the conversation stops, the silence will be deafening.


Zip Lines & Zebra Suits…The Loterie Farm, St. Maarten

Day Three of Spring Break, St. Maarten:

Today was one of those perfect days you fantasize about when you’re scraping the windshield and cursing the fact that you didn’t get that finicky backseat window in your car fixed before winter hit.

Our intrepid leader Mark and his up-for-anything assistant Stazzi took us to a place called The Loterie Farm (pronounced “Lottery Farm,”), an oasis in the middle of St. Maarten that offers an idyllic infinity pool with cabanas you can rent, straight out of “Who The Hell Lives Like That?” magazine. (This is the genre of magazine that features houses with all-white furniture and carpets, and ads for curtains that cost more than my snow-covered car.) For the more adventurous, there is a network of zip-lines and hiking trails throughout the jungle.

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Before we left, there was the usual 45 minutes of trying to round up seven people and all of their gear for the day:

Me:  “Does anyone have the bug spray? Did you put sunscreen on? No you didn’t—you’re not shiny enough. Put it on—not here, outside! Did you bring sneakers? You can’t zip-line in flip flops…”

Everyone else: “Mommmm…”

Eventually, Mark and Stazzi managed to corral all of us into the rental van. When we arrived at The Loterie Farm, we entered the pool area and plunked our gear down. What a surprise! We were a loud, laughing group of Americans invading a quiet and serene European setting–no wonder they hate us.  A frowning French waiter brought a complementary bucket of champagne, which made me salivate like a dog looking at a steak, but that would have to wait—there was zip-lining to do first.  After all, I do have a little bit of a work ethic.

The zip-lining was as fun as it was exhausting – I definitely recommend it to anyone with a sense of adventure.  After and hour of straining muscles over a ropes course and clipping and un-clipping ourselves to various cables and trees, the tired Fam plodded down the last wooden ramp to the fix-it-yourself rum punch bar—seriously, they had that.  I love Island People. The more athletic and wise among us (Daughters 1&2) made do with water.  Dripping with jungle sweat from squatting and zipping and maneuvering my not-as-limber-as-I-thought body around, I went back for champagne and my bathing suit.

Guess who didn’t bring hers?

Hubby, already in his suit and ready to get into the pool and cool off with a glass of the bubbly, saw me getting ready to FTFO and took me to the Teeny, Tiny boutique that was there just for forgetful people like me, to buy a suit. Everything in that boutique was Teeny Tiny, including The Loterie Farm Dog, a Chihuahua named Felly who periodically got the “zoomies” and ran in circles before collapsing in the grass ( I think I lost 20 minutes just watching him).  The only things not Teeny Tiny were the price tags.  Of course, the Teeny Tiniest things in the boutique were the bathing suits. And Ladies, in case you were wondering, Land’s End tank-inis don’t exist in Europe or The Islands, except on suburban-American moms. We may think we are camouflaging the muffin-tops in them, but the rest of the world can spot us a mile away, and they shrink back in horror.

What I ended up purchasing was a band-aide-sized, black and white bikini that, next to my sunburned skin, made me look like a zebra with a bad case of mange. You could clearly see the tan lines left by my forgotten suit.

Mortified, I wrapped a towel around my waist, trying desperately to ignore the fact that there was air coming down the back of the bottoms because—yes, it’s gross, but true—I’m pretty sure I actually had crack showing. Classy.

But, after a delicious tapas meal and a couple (make that several) boat drinks over which we solved the problems of the world, I was no longer mortified.  In fact, I felt kind of French—I had a too-small bathing suit, lack of inhibitions, and an attitude of undeserved privilege—or is that more like a recent college grad? It’s hard to tell the difference, except for the accent.

Either way, I decided it was a pretty nice way to spend time on vacation; and since Daughters 1 & 2 are closer to graduating than I will ever be again, I’ll just have to become French.  Oui?  


“I know, I know. Put some more sunscreen on. You’re not shiny enough.”

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