General Fiction posted February 25, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Paddling your own canoe can be difficult.

Adventures at Daydream Lake Resort

by LisaMay

Honeymoon Contest Winner 

It was wonderful to see my best friend, Maggie, when she came back to Melbourne last week. She’d been away on a summer working holiday at the Daydream Lake Resort in Tasmania. She went there with her boyfriend, Ken, for six weeks. They’d both applied for work as Adventure Guides at the resort, but only Ken was appointed. Maggie was told she’d be working in the housekeeping department. 

That’s typical sexism in action! Maggie is doing a phys-ed degree and eats triathlons for breakfast. She also has her own K1 kayak. Ken is a writer. What would he know about kayaking? He sits on his bum at home all day writing poems. Oh, come to think of it, he is qualified after all – he’s a certified bum-sitter. And Maggie doing housework, that’s a laugh. We share an apartment together – you should see her room! It looks like a dumpster. You can write your name in the dust. She always has something better to do than cleaning.

Well, when we had lunch together yesterday she was telling me about some of the characters they met at the resort and what the work was like. 

The weather was rather cold for the first two weeks they were there – no-one booked any outdoor adventure trips, which meant that Ken was left twiddling his thumbs. Then he discovered the local golf course and filled his time that way. He’s not sporty at all but he enjoyed walloping balls down the fairway, wondering whether he’d hit a wallaby. They came onto the greens to nibble the grass. No lawn mower needed at that golf course!

So there was Maggie, working her butt off doing nine-hour shifts cleaning up after guests, while Ken was wandering around killing time. And wallabies. Well, only the one.

Maggie told me she was in a housekeeping team with three other women and it was such purgatory for her. She loathed the work – having to be inside all the time making up the beds, cleaning bathrooms and toilets, dusting and vacuuming… whatever. But also it was the other women that made it the pits: they all swore like troopers and had a smoke whenever they snuck a break. Maggie is a sportswoman and can’t stand being around smokers.

She liked most of the guests, though. They were usually rich and some could be rather demanding, but Maggie is great with people so she got on really well with everyone.

One night, when the off-duty staff members were having a sociable dinner together at the resort’s restaurant, a coach-load of guests arrived and the chef got overwhelmed when the kitchen-hand didn’t turn up for his shift. The orders were coming in thick and fast but hardly any meals were going out to the tables. Maggie noticed this happening, so she jumped the counter, grabbed a tea towel and cleared some bench space then started plating up the dinners. I think the chef fell in love with her on the spot.

Because Maggie is strong and focused, she aced it being a waitress too. She had those heavy china plates loaded and carried to tables as quick as the chef could produce the meals. They were a dream team. The big boss manager got told about Maggie’s assistance, so the very next day she was rescued out of housekeeping and ‘promoted’ to the kitchen staff.

By then the weather had improved and lots of guests were booking ‘adventure experiences’. Maggie said that Ken got a bit grumpy about that – he’d gotten used to playing golf and thinking up poems while he was walking the course.

Being the adventure guide meant that he was supposed to take groups of people out on cycling tours or kayaking on Daydream Lake. Because Ken can write well, he had written an ‘imaginative’ application and bluffed his way into the job. Maggie was shocked at the lies he told. He hadn’t been on a bike for months, and as for paddling a kayak, Maggie had to teach him quickly how not to fall out of one!

He got the hang of it but was only marginally better than some of the guests. He told her a story about a honeymoon couple from India who wanted to try kayaking. The young wife was completely inexperienced and also very anxious about whether there would be sharks. Yeah, right, in a lake?

They had some instruction while sitting in their kayaks on the water’s edge, then set off. The husband took to it like a platypus to water and paddled right out into the lake, but his lady was just sitting there rocking backwards and forwards, trying to make the boat budge, calling out “How do you make it go?” completely forgetting about her paddle. She must have thought there was a motor or something. Then she started calling her husband back in an imperiously shrill voice, demanding that he return. Which he did, very promptly.

That really irritated Ken. He told Maggie he thought the new wife was an up-herself, hoity-toity bossy bitch and he could imagine her up on a fancy decorated elephant commanding that wuss of a husband of hers from on high while he picked up her elephant’s crap. Or else expecting her husband to paddle his kayak like a maniac so she could go waterskiing! To which he would meekly acquiesce and ask, between gasps, “Shall I go faster, dear?”

Maggie told Ken off, said he sounded like a misogynistic racist and guess what his reply was? He reckoned he was no racist, he liked curry! To Maggie, that still left him a misogynist. 

Then she said that she had gotten to know the couple he was bad-mouthing – Sarita and Jai – because she’d had long chats with them when she went into their unit to do her housekeeping duties. Apparently, Sarita had been sent to an exclusive boarding school in England when she was quite young. She hardly feels Indian at all now and she hates how she sounds… her accent is so la-di-da proper English that people make all sorts of assumptions about her. She’s been loving her honeymoon time in Australia with Jai because although he is low-born that doesn’t matter at all here. They can be equals. 

Maggie asked Ken if he would have come back for her if that was them in that situation. He said he wouldn’t need to because Maggie knew how to paddle her own canoe. Ken can be so annoyingly obtuse sometimes. He was missing the point. He reckoned the husband was just being spineless, but Maggie disagreed. Her interpretation was that Jai wanted to be with Sarita because he could see that it was no fun for her, and it wouldn’t have been fun for him without her. She also thought that Sarita was probably really scared for Jai’s safety because of imagining the sharks.

But Ken stuck to his guns and insisted that in his book the husband was a down-trodden docile doormat. Maggie flared up then, said for heaven’s sake, they were newlyweds on their honeymoon. Sarita adored Jai. She wasn’t ‘lording it’ over him. Jai adored Sarita. Ken’s stupid ‘book’ needed a rewrite!

That bickering was kind of the beginning of the end for Ken and Maggie and their relationship fizzled out. She came back to Melbourne with Andrew, the chef from the resort. Now we’ve got a wedding to plan and I’m going to be one of Maggie’s bridesmaids, along with Sarita. 

It so happens that Andrew is a triathlete, too! He has competed in the Iron Man event in Hawaii and he’s persuaded Maggie to go in next year’s Coast to Coast multisport in New Zealand with him, as a team. They’ll be going there for their honeymoon.

Maggie and Ken parted amicably enough. He thinks he might write them a commemorative poem for their wedding – if he can fit it in around his busy golfing schedule.

Contest Winner

1. Daydream Lake Resort is a fictitious name.
2. 'phys-ed' refers to physical education. A triathlon is an event consisting of swimming, cycling, and long distance running.
3. A wallaby is a marsupial similar to a kangaroo.
4. A platypus is a monotreme, unique to Australia. It is an egg laying mammal; a small furry animal that lives around waterways. Unusually, it has a bill like a duck.
5. 'wuss' is a slang word for a person who is regarded as weak or ineffectual. The word is possibly a blend of wimp and pussy, or short for pussy-wussy.
6. The Coast to Coast is a demanding multisport competition held annually in New Zealand. It is run from the west coast to the east coast of the South Island, and features running, cycling and kayaking over a total distance of 243 kilometres (151 miles).
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