So many Rookeries
have sprung up across the 6,000-mile banana belt stretching from Maui to
Martinique that a sun-seeker heading south in winter must decide just what sort
of bird he really is. To ease the problem of selecting a place to roost until
the icebergs melt, I have classified migratory types in a pocket-sized
directory known as Sutton's Sunlit Syllabus and Self-assessor. While purebred
types are indeed rare—most sun-seekers are hybrids—a man who recognizes his own
personality in the tables that follow should have no trouble making the
burnishment fit the clime.
The garden variety
of wintertime toaster is, of course, the Roto-Body-Broiler. He sports the
luminous look of a man who spent 14 years on the bridge of the freighter China
Lady sailing fortnightly between Penang and Mandalay. If the truth be known, he
had a February week in Barbados, which he has parlayed into a winterlong tan by
hiding under the barbershop sun lamp. The mere thought of losing his tan makes
him feverish. For the Broiler a sunburn has twin rewards. First, a winter
week's relaxing in the South can camouflage three months' winter dissipation up
North. Second, there is that exquisite moment when, having returned to the
frozen wastes, he stands silently in the office until some miserable paleface
finally asks, "Good God, man, where did you get that tan?"
roast the corpus in two ways, requiring the touristologist to subdivide the
Broiler into two categories. The first, or inert Broiler, is the SUN FLOPPER.
He throws himself down at the sight of the first palm frond. His equipment is
simple: all he needs is oil, shorts, a white plastic nose guard and a ticket
south. He nests on the settees strewn around Miami Beach swimming pools, on the
noiseless beaches of the Caribbean's Caneel Bay, alongside the swimming pools
appended to the pink palaces of Palm Springs, or on the sands of Waikiki. If he
stirs, it is only for periodic basting and to toast himself evenly on both
sides. In short, his motto is Go Now, Peel Later.
A Flopper, when
wound up, becomes a SUN HOPPER. The Hopper wants to tan, but he can't lie
still. He toasts while trolling for tuna off Hawaii, while pursuing the
bonefish in the flats off Bimini, while stalking rare birds in the Everglades.
He'll walk a fairway backwards to keep his face in the sun and, like all
Roto-Body-Broilers, come Departure Day, he is the man who stands on the ramp
until they shut the plane door, chin upturned to the bountiful heavens, getting
his last licks before flying away home.
Sometimes mistaken for the Sun Hopper, this type is in the sea before
breakfast, on the links before lunch, on the courts before tea and in the sack
before 9. All he needs, really, is a pair of sneakers. He has liniment, will
travel. But he hops pour le sport and, if he happens to get sunburned enroute,
ça va. The Doer inhabits the Arizona ranches, arising before the sun for
breakfast rides into the purple canyons. He pulls lead paddle on the outriggers
of Waikiki, and he is first off the tee of the Mid-Ocean Club in Bermuda.
Tomorrow he may be back in the office, so he gathers his charley horse while he
The Ogler is the compleat spectator sportsman. He wonders why Dawn-to-Dusk
Doers spend the whole day jumping all over the place when they could sit
comfortably and watch someone else jump all over the place. He, for instance,
has been up late watching the wheels in Havana, watching the floor show at Don
the Beachcomber's, watching the limbo dancers in Jamaica. Tomorrow he will
consult the morning line—in the afternoon. He will have breakfast at Hialeah.
The only thing that will get the Dusk-to-Dawn Ogler out of bed before the day
is half shot is the prospect of a spectacular day of girl watching by the pool.
He thinks the bullfights in Mexico are dandy. They don't start till 4.
Perhaps the easiest type to spot, the Free-Port Freebooter is a scavenger who
inhabits the duty-free metropolises of the West Indies and is often found
boarding a plane or ship carrying five bottles of duty-free rum and a huge
woven basket bulging with bongo drums, mahogany salad bowls, an old coconut, a
conch shell and a set of English bone china. Recently some types have been
given to carrying rumba or calypso boxes, hollow wooden crates fitted with
steel teeth which when twanged go "Bloom! Bloom!" Freebooters who bring
home rumba boxes in addition to bargain booze and bulging baskets usually
appear at the airport clutching their homeward ticket in their teeth.
There are, to be
sure, several varieties of Free-Port Freebooters, notably the WHITE ELEPHANT
HUNTER, the BLOOD-IN-THE-EYE BARGAIN BUYER and the PLACE-IN-THE-SUN DROPPER.
The White Elephant Hunter is rather like a mountain climber. He buys what he
buys because it is there: a pair of maracas engraved with the lyrics of Mama
Don't Want No Peas and Rice and Cocoanut Oil, a coconut sculptured to look like
a hyperthyroid monkey, a candelabra made by native craftsmen of old
condensed-milk cans. But the White Elephant Hunter is most easily recognized by
his fickle taste, a foible which has long been recognized by steamship
companies operating West Indies cruises. Most cruise directors designate the
last night aboard ship as White Elephant Barter Night, an evening dedicated to
trading unwanted treasures only recently obtained for things a person should
have bought three ports ago.
Much more dedicated
is the Blood-in-the-Eye Bargain Buyer. For this type the southern seas are a
Shangri-La with merchandise, all of it marked down. Nassau is a place where the
trees bear Royal Doulton and the landscape is paved with Harris tweed. St.
Thomas is bounded by Danish silver, Swedish glass and French perfume. And if
you're looking for a watch, Curacao is a Dutch Switzerland with a sensible