Giving myself tough love, I decided to simply write, daily. I began with essays based on my observations and experiences of living on North Caicos, written by hand for no one other than myself. The practice got me through that dry period and I was soon happily writing again for the local magazine and starting a novel. I saved those first essays, however. Here’s one of them.
If I worked in Hollywood and had to cast the role of a male American who one day decided to leave it all and move to the islands, I know exactly the look I’d want. How can I not know, when I see it all the time?
The similarly among male expats is quite remarkable. Occasionally someone breaks the mold, but so many are alike that they have become The Type:
40-55 years old, about.
Far from slim, but not fat, either. There’s a bit of flabbiness about the belly … from the drinking.
Hair is gray or graying, long, and worn in a ponytail.
There is facial hair—usually a mustache, but just as often a beard or stubble that never seems to either grow or get shaved. [Note: This was written before that look became ubiquitous in the U.S.]
An earring, of course.
Attire is loose, long shorts—not as baggy as young black American males wear, though—certainly without a belt. A button-front, short-sleeved overshirt in a tropical print. The clothes show signs of wear: maybe a single paint smear, a button replaced by a safety pin or a slightly torn chest pocket.
If the feet aren’t bare, he is wearing sandals or a beaten-up pair of Docksiders with one sole flapping. Never socks.
Besides the earring, there’s one piece of gold jewelry—either a necklace or bracelet. No watch, and not even the tan line of a watch.
Hollywood didn’t get it right with Robin Williams in “Club Paradise”—too clean and wholesome. Sean Connery in “Medicine Man” had the accoutrements right, but the man himself has a bit too much elegance. Harrison Ford in “Six Days, Seven Nights” is about as close as Tinseltown has come, but his air of “I don’t give a shit” wasn’t convincing enough.
Ford showed promise then, but now he may be a tad too old for the part. If I had to work with a star, I might give Woody Harrelson a try.
Best bet, though, is an unknown. Just head to a bar on Provo or North, and a likely candidate will show up, ponytail, earring and all.