Wheaton’s Way

Modern technology helps revive memories of the good old days

Social media is a bit of a sticky wicket right now. On the one hand, it is fantastic for keeping up-to-date with friends and family, but on the other, it is particularly rife with conspiracy theories and negative posts at this uncertain time.

Lots of new groups have popped up on Facebook in the last few months, and although the goal is usually to keep discussions positive and uplifting, inevitably someone will dare to give an opinion on what can be the most banal topic and it all kicks off.

The miffed people then leave that group to form another group, and so it goes.

Therefore, when I was asked to join the Cayman Old Friends group, I must admit I was hesitant. Would it all be fun and games until some upstart posted that they weren’t particularly fond of coconut? Suppose a member derided the noble seagrape tree?

I decided to take a deep breath and jump in.

The past couple of weeks have been a revelation. The membership of the group has grown exponentially, with friendly faces popping up from around the world as well as Cayman.

People have gone digging around in their photo albums and archives to post pictures from the ‘80s and ‘90s, a time when I was still trying to sport a high-cut swimsuit a la ‘Baywatch’ without my hips resembling bags of cocaine. (Hey, it was the time of ‘Miami Vice’.)

Neet was the hair-removal cream of choice back then. I’m not surprised they rebranded it to what is now Veet, as surely the manufacturers wanted to distance themselves as much as possible from Neet.0, which – frankly – stank, and could blister the skin if one wasn’t careful. I am speaking from bitter personal experience.

Good times.

As I scrolled through the group’s page, I espied images of the old Holiday Inn, where The Ritz-Carlton now stands. That was a huge gathering point for locals and tourists. Barefoot Man played there weekly and, of course, serenaded Tom Cruise for the beach scene of ‘The Firm’.

Harry Johnson, who wore a shiny Spandex-type outfit, could be counted on for his limbo performances while Mark McTaggart pounded away on the drums, a heartthrob for all the young ladies.

The pool bar at Treasure Island (now Margaritaville Resort) was also a big hotspot, particularly when the in-house band Sons of the Beach was playing. And who from those days can forget The Marvels (sp?) in the resort’s nightclub? Or how about Joe Savage, who was known for performing with a chainsaw, his baby black panther and the python he brought on stage?

One night, early in his residency at the club, he began his set by sawing through the upright box that held him, only to put a huge vertical tear in the large projection screen that hadn’t been lifted out of the way in time. That was big excitement for anyone who was there. They still talk about it to this day.

It was great that there were limited venues offering entertainment, as it meant that no matter where you went, the place was packed. The disadvantage, when we were about 17 and still living at home, was that if we tried to pull a fast one on our parents, they were able to quickly narrow down where we might be. At least once we were mid-boogie to Sons of the Beach when we should have been at a friend’s house studying, only to see a father rounding a corner. Isn’t it amazing how terrifying that can be, when you’d honestly rather it was a T-Rex?

What I realised, as I saw everyone’s posts, photos and messages on this Facebook page, was how much people loved being in Cayman at that time. Some got married, moved away, and started lives somewhere else, but no one had forgotten the magical days of their youth in the Caribbean. They were overjoyed to reconnect with friends, reminisce about the crazy things we all did back then, and recall the real characters that kept life interesting (shout out to Dude and Violet at Lone Star).

For me, that’s what I like about social media. Being able to share fantastic memories and appreciating how lucky we are today.

That being said, hopefully there is no photo proof of me in that sumo costume at Blue Parrot. True story.

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