Given his athletic background, Tranbarger's gig as land-sports manager was a no-brainer, but in addition to their primary positions, GOs are also almost always required to perform onstage in front of a live audience. An entertainer he was not. "I had never really danced at all," he tells me of his life before Club Med. "The first few times they grabbed me and threw me on the dance floor, I was lost beyond belief. The first week, I really considered ending my GO career just because of the embarrassment." Times change.
TRANBARGER HITS THE mike to announce water aerobics with all the enthusiasm of a Las Vegas game-show host. Women around the pool - just reopened today after two weeks of renovation - flock to the water. Of course, a few guys join, as well, including me. I have never had a remote interest in water aerobics, but at this point, any excuse to cool off in the pool need not be offered twice. Before I know it, I'm running in place in the shallow end of the pool to the tune of bad '70s dance music and praying that my girlfriend (who's checking her e-mail nearby) doesn't happen to witness this less-than-masculine moment in my life. We swoosh waves in, we swoosh waves out, and we shake them all about. We pump our fists in the air and turn ourselves around. That's what it's all about.
Yes, it was embarrassing. Yes, it was harder than I thought it would be. Yes, I'm desperately hoping nobody captured it on video. But, truth be told, as silly as it was, I kind of liked it. And I'm starting to feel the love that so many Club Med addicts feel for this place. It takes you out of your comfort zone. "One of the reasons I stay with Club Med is that I get to do things I would never get to do anywhere else," Tranbarger tells me later. Like dance? "Yeah, especially the stage stuff."
Water aerobics sufficiently gets my blood flowing, but it doesn't really tire me out too much. So it's no problem segueing straight into coed water polo (the only break we take is to divide up the silly skullcaps that we have to wear to differentiate between teams). Water polo is also something that's absent from my normal routine, but I'm quite familiar with the soccer/hockey/lacrosse origin of the rules: Catch. Turn. Shoot. Got it.
What I wasn't banking on was the Club Med rule that states that the men cannot touch the women at all, while the men are completely fair game. So every time I catch the ball, a female guest - likely from Montreal, which seems to be where the majority of the visitors here are from - nearly drowns me in a valiant effort to prevent me from scoring. I quickly wise up, switch to the other side of the pool, and proceed to surprise even myself with my superb skills. I score about six of our 12 goals, and the GO in charge of water polo - a fellow Californian - tells me I should quit my day job and become a water polo GO (I'm mulling it over).
We're out of the water by 12:20 p.m., and it's at this point that I'm starting to need a break - as in the kind of siesta where I lie on the beach for a few hours sipping some drink called a Rainbow Rum Punch Ecstasy or something. Instead, I get lunch, which, I suppose, is a sort of break but which requires a bit more effort than I'm looking to exert at this moment. It would be remiss at this point to not mention the food, most notably the white-chocolate bread. It's the most addictive culinary creation I have ever eaten - and worth a trip to Club Med completely in and of itself. I'm trying to convince the magazine to run the recipe as a sidebar to this story, thereby relieving me of any future debts to mankind.