I am still amazed at how many different ways a fart can be funny. I learned this while driving. I picked up my twelve year old son Marques and a few of his friends one Saturday morning from a slumber party. One of the boys got into my car carrying a single red rose. "What was that all about?" I said to Marques, after dropping the last kid off. "It's for Missy." And that was that. As soon as D took the plunge, they all jumped in after him. From what I could tell, '92 was the summer of love for the class of '98. The era of farting with your armpits had ended. Just like that. One particular frequenter of my backseat, was Mayfield. Mayfield was the quiet boy with pale skin, dark wavy hair, pretty blue eyes and a perpetual grin. When Mayfield and Angela married in 2008, my son, Marques, was in the wedding. Which took place in Punta Cana. Sven and I had the honors of splitting up the childcare of our grandchildren with Nicolette's parents, who doubled as our good friends, Giselle and Mac. At the time, Sven was two months out of the hospital, with an ankle that had been meticulously pieced back together and it was still supposed to be above his heart ninety percent of the time. Fortunately he was able to sit at our kitchen table with his leg propped up next to the bouncy seat which contained our newest grandbaby. From there he could keep an eye on Sean, and at the same time, watch me and Sean's two sisters and brother, while we dug out forts along the side of the driveway and went sledding down a monumental mountain that the plow had made for us, due to a record snowfall. So, last summer when Marques mentioned that they were invited to return to The Dominican to help celebrate Mayfield and Angela's ten year wedding anniversary, I assumed it was a pre-requisite, to, "Will you be able to watch the boys?" But. I was mistaken. And that mistake is how the this story comes to fruition. Because chances are Sven and I wouldn't have been anywhere near the equator, if not for Angela and Mayfield. Our plane had landed seventeen hours prior, when all twenty-two of us made our way into the sunshine, after a four AM pick up for a two hour limo-bus ride, complete with Bloody Mary's and champagne to the airport, where we were in for an hour delay, due to snow and de-icing. Then a four and half hour flight from Rockford Illinois to Punta Cana, nourished with a bag of goldfish crackers and a vodka with cranberry juice to wash it down, before getting into a line for customs and then immigration, or perhaps it was immigration and then customs. Then a bus ride to the resort, with Harvey on the microphone the entire way. A cart ride with our luggage to find our rooms, followed by a buffet dinner, a couple cocktails near the stage. Climbing stairs to a fort of a night club full of strobe lights, smoke on the water, smoke, and really shitty music. The kind of a place you would take your parents when you would like them to go to bed. Which we did. So the next day, when all the red tape was finally over. When our stomachs were full. Our departure time was set. We were connected to the Wifi. And a day excursion for the following day was booked and paid for, Sven and I made a break for it. That is when we took our first stroll down the white sandy beach, hand in hand, slipping into and out of the waves washing onto shore. We were headed to a grand and mysterious, pirate ship. Along our way we waved off emerging vendors with ease. But you know. And I know. That those guys know, the law of gravity. What goes by this way, must come back that way. So, on our return, Peter was waiting for us. "Shopping today?" "No." I say. "Not today." "Oh. Okay," he says. And then he sticks out a fist. How did he know my weakness? I automatically make my hand into a fist to meet it. "Respect," we say in unison. That is when I noticed that Peter's bright smile was adorned in blue-green braces. "You know my home," he says. "I love Jamaica," I answer. I think that is why the next thing I recall is Sven and I standing inside a shop that was still on the beach, but far, far, from the water. This, after all the way to this shop, Peter rambling on and on about something that sounded either like Obama or marijuana, or both. I wasn't sure. And Sven was having a hard time just keeping up. So he surely didn't know. But whatever it was, it had something to do with health, cleansing, the Dominican, Rum and sex. Peter points to a bottle with a straw hat for a cap and says, "You must try." He then pours a gold liquid into three plastic colorful shot glasses out of a different bottle, without a straw hat. He holds his shot glass up. We follow suit. We hold them down. We hold them in the middle. And then we bring them to our lips. It was pretty damn good. I was all tingly. "Okay Millie, how many cigars do you want to buy?" he says. "One," I answer. "Just one?" "Yes." "Why, just one?" "It's for my friend." Peter places a cigar in Sven's mouth and lights it. "You want to try?" he says to me. "No thank you," I say. Peter lights one up himself. "Is this cigar you are buying for a good friend?" he asks. "Yes." "How good of a friend?" "The best." "The best?" "Yes." "Then you will need this," he says and pulls a box of cigars off the shelf and hands them to me. He pours us all another shot of Mama Juana. "What else do you like here?" he says. "That dress," I point. And before we leave that little hole in the wall, I am the proud owner of a beautiful sundress, an entire box of the finest cigars that can be found in the Dominican, a large bottle of Mama Juana and a black and white painting of Bob Marley smoking weed, painted by none other than Peter himself. But that wasn't my fault. All I had done was glance at it. And it is difficult to say no, when a personally painted, painting, even though it is not likely a personally painted painting, is already ripped off it's frame, rolled up like a poster and gift wrapped in plain white paper coated in six layers of clear strapping tape, so that it is ready to travel. So. Peter pulls out his calculator. "Okay. Three hundred and fifty US dollars," he says. "Not," says Sven. Boy. Sven looked pissed. Peter looks at me. "We can't afford that. I think I should ditch the cigars." "No. You say, he is the best kind of friend. You need the cigars." "Well we can't spend that kind of money." "What can you spend?" "One hundred dollars." "I am insulted." So, considering how it began, I was pretty proud when we walked out of there with all that lute that we hadn't been looking for, for a mere two hundred and twenty smackaroos. It was unfortunate however that I only brought two hundred and fifty in cash and that it was only my first hour interacting with people. But the good news was, Sven brought a lot more cash than I had. Now, all of this money was back in our room. Locked in our safe. I went there to drop off the goods and to get the dough, while Sven headed to the bar to fetch three celebretorial cervezas. We were all to meet on the far corner of our beach. Just on the other side of the guard, who would turn his back for a mere five dollar bribe. Unfortunately, I forgot that I didn't have a room key on me. But a nice house keeper let me into our room and Sven later rewarded her with a twenty dollar bill. I returned to our designated area with the cash and Sven with the cervezas. The deal was sealed. And then Sven and I decided to go to the main pool to meet up with some of our entourage, who according to the internet, were there. "I'll be right behind you," I said to Sven. "I need to use the Bano." "Okay," he says. And heads out. Just then, at that very second, a young boy, about fourteen, was holding up a cardboard rack of sunglasses in my face. "No, thank you," I say. "He's hungry," says Peter. "What?" "Hungry. You know." And Peter rubs his stomach. I looked at the boy who nodded and rubbed his stomach. "But." "You could bring him food," whispers Peter. "I could?" "You could," he says and strolls away. The boy sits down on a pile of rocks and stares ahead. Son of a bitch. I return twenty minutes later with a Styrofoam plate covered in pizza and a giant hotdog with catsup and sour kraut. The boy was gone. I strolled past the spot. The neighboring beach was in front of a building that had been torn down after the hurricane. Which meant, no patrol. It was no man's land. I walked a ways and turned around to return to our beach. And there stood a beautiful young girl next to the rocks where the boy had been. She had dark skin, black eyes, a white straw hat with a wide brim, a flimsy blue dress that fit like a glove and a red and white striped canvas bag hanging from her tiny shoulder. Her eyes followed me as I walked toward her. They dropped to my plate when I reached her. "Do you know the boy who was just here?" I said. She nodded. "Would you mind taking this to him?" A smile grew across her miniature face. "I hope you like a lot of catsup," I said as she silently placed the plate into her bag and just as if she'd never been there, she vanished. So, in my first two hours on the beach, I'd been scammed, locked out of our room, and was already on the radar of the beach patrol for feeding the poor. In other words, things were going well. Our pack of traveling companions was diversified. Part of our entourage was the notorious, Speedo Club. The criteria to join this elite group, is A) You must be a male. And B) You have to believe that you look amazing in your speedo. Marques had a new one for each day. Then there were the parents of Angela. Sven and I. Mac and Giselle. A cousin of the bride and her friend. A couple of Nicolette's cousins. Nicolette's brother. Friends of the bride and groom. Friends of friends, of the bride and groom. And last but not least, Abram. Who is the spitting image of Angela and Mayfield. After dinner at the Japanese Restaurant, Sven and I topped the evening off with another slug of Mama Jauna. And we turned off the lights. LLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Catamaran Excursion began the following morning. I suppose it is possible that our mysterious bottle of Mama Juana was a contributing factor in the collapse of my Sweet Sven during our dinner at the Mediterranean Restaurant, following the full day in the sun. Or it could have been a lack of water. That's what the fifteen year old doctor said. "Drink more water." But regardless, it is very upsetting to see your spouse's head face planted on the table. And it is even more upsetting when he doesn't wake up. And what is more distressful than that is when your spouse repeats the old, drop my head on the table, at breakfast the following morning. And then again at the Italian Restaurant during dinner that evening. For some reason Sven was fond of timing this new and strange behavior between our salads and entrees. In other words. I was starving. I'm not sure if it was all the bottled water that we pumped into my sweet Sven, or the fact that we kept that straw hat on top pf that bottle of Mama Juana screwed on tight. Or if nothing had to do with anything. But Sven's uninvited seizures disappeared as quickly as they'd appeared. And. Just to be safe, Sven and I stuck with room service for meals. It was a win, win. For everybody. So there you have it. The, in a nutshell, Millie Noe version of the Angela/Mayfield ten year anniversary trip. I happen to believe there are twenty-one more versions out there. But, just in case nobody else writes them down, I will try to guess what their stories might be about. Let me see.... Zip-lining. Cerveza. Being covered with with mud and driving dune buggies. Buying weed in a freaky room with a steel door and an armed guard. Dirty dancing. "Sing us a song, the Piano Man." Heather transforming into Trish. Cold pizza. Cerveza. Mimes. Pirates. A booby trapped obstacle course. Trish turning into Heather. Holding a cup of beer under a hand dryer to see what would happen. That would be my buddy, Giselle. Giselle has a curious mind. She also has a new cell phone, since we forgot to check to see what that thud was under our seat on the bus that day on our way back from the Catamaran Excursion. Well. We fell asleep. So. Cerveza. Cerveza. Cerveza, Mac and his 'Happy Dance.' Sand castles. A ten year anniversary. Babysitting. Water wings. Friends helping friends home in the wee hours. Not para-sailing. Cerveza, Cold pizza. The after bar party by the Flip Flop pool, when that drunk Canadian guy agreed to take our picture and then he proceeded to bitch about not being able to get drunk because he drinks straight whiskey all day, every day. That other drunk Canadian. Head banging at the night club. The V.I.P. pool imposters. Cold pizza. Rum. And Montezuma's Revenge. There. I think that should about cover it. Not that we need defending. But, there is one thing that I'd like to say in our defense. Just because Beyoncé knew more of our names than we did. It wasn't our fault. Beyoncé had a gift with names. They were all gifted. Spaghetti, Pokémon and the rest of the entertainment staff at The Sunscape Bavaro. And by the time the sorry pile of twenty-two worn out travelers were all gathered in the lobby, plopped together on hard as hell, sand filled sofas, on that last Sunday morning, we had become what the vendors liked to call out. "Family." Thank you, Angela and Mayfield.