I've decided not to renew my membership to ShangriLa Ranch. It's a damn shame because this would have been my forth year there.
Stop for a second though, please. Nothing about this is meant to badmouth ShangriLa Ranch. It's a fine place run by great people. Whether you're a single person or a family with a gaggle kids under your arms, you should join. Nothing that follows has any reflection on the operation of the resort or 99.9% of the people who either live there or visit. Okay, got it? ShangriLa Ranch is a good place.
I haven't been there once in almost a year. After a short time away, I started going back but then something happened that quite literally stole my enjoyment. Since the people who ruined it for me felt they had the liberty to publicly bitch and gossip about what happened, I need to vent and tell it from my perspective.
Last year an adult female friend of mine asked me if she could go to the resort with me. No problem, I have taken friends there before and they've really enjoyed it. We made plans for the weekend.
So on a sunny spring weekend morning I go to her home to pick her up. As soon as I got there everything changed. Like me, my friend has a physical disability Because she would instantly lose all her insurance benefits if she were to move, she lives with her parents. Her parent were not keen on the idea that she was going to a family nudist resort, even though her aunt is also a member there.
Okay, right here I was on the side of her parents. Yes, she is an adult but as long as she lives in their home she should respect their wishes. I have no problem with that. I suggested we change our plans and go somewhere else. We decided to hike the Go John Trail instead.
Nothing more needed to be said but for the next 30 minutes I listened to her mother telling me all sorts of things that were really none of my business, plus how she didn't know me very well and how my friend and I had a troubled past. Yes, we did have a troubled past. She fucked me over really bad several times before, but I forgave her and we thought we could start the friendship fresh. I'm willing to give anyone a second chance and third chance. Sometimes I am really stupid and give fourth and fifth chances.
When that was over, we drove up to the Carefree Recreation area and hiked a good chunk of the Go John Trail. Despite the fact that I had to hike with clothes on there, I had a good time. She did too.
The next day I drove up to the resort by myself, grabbed some of the information packets and got guest passes for her and her mother. I figured that if they went together the first time then her mom would shed her phobias. ShangriLa Ranch is a nice family place. How could anyone not like it? That evening I dropped all of the stuff off for her mom and her to look at.
A few weeks later while we were driving up to Dreamy Draw to go hiking again, my friend said her mom was cool with the idea of her going to the resort. The brochures always work. We drove up and in the pouring rain I gave her the grand tour of the grounds, then we swam in the heated pool for a while and then chatted with a nice woman in the hot tub. When the rain stopped and the sun came out, we left. After a brief stopover at my apartment, we went to Dreamy Draw and hiked as planned.
A few days later I head to Europe with Liz for a week.
When I got back, I call my friend and I'll be damned, she was at the resort with her cousin. Cool!
The rest of this story becomes totally fucking surreal, at least from my viewpoint...
I'm not sure how long after all this was, but one day I call my friend and she informs me that her parents are completely pissed off at me. Being an adult, I hop in my car and drive across town to find out what's up.
Attack one came from her truly pissed off mom. Round 1. Why did I lie to her? I didn't lie. I said we would not go and we did not go. Later when the friend said her mom was cool with the idea, only then did we go. Round 2. Why didn't we tell her then or later? The question should have been why didn't my friend tell her. My responsibility was to be a friend, not a babysitter. If someone has an arrangement with their parents that makes it necessary for them to report in, it's up to to them, not me. To claim it is my responsibility to stop the car and call the parents of another adult to see if this is true or not is so incredibly ridiculous that it bears no further thought or action. I am an adult. I eat, sleep, shit, shower, shave, work, play, cook my meals, drive my car, pay my bills and pay my taxes; and I do it all without calling up and getting permission from my dear mom and dad.
Her mom explained that her reluctance about her adult daughter going is that she wanted her Aunt (a member of the resort) to go and talk to the people and make sure that my friend, being disabled, would be accepted and treated well by others there -and- when she did go she would be accompanied by someone she knows is responsible. If you remember any two words of the last sentence, remember adult and responsible.
Next, the completely enraged father came in and yelled at me and repeated over and over "Why didn't you think? Why?"
Okay, hold the train. Let's break all of this down....
Mom wants to know if people will be nice to disabled daughter. Hello? I think I would be the expert here. I have disabilities similar to hers and i have been a member there for THREE YEARS. If anyone is going to know how disabled people will be treated, it would be me, but no, it was not me, it was the non-disabled aunt who went to her friends asking "Will you be nice to my handicapped niece?" Who is gonna answer "No, we promise to treat her like shit".
Mom wants her to go with someone safe. When I take her, I take her when the place is rainy and with the exception of one woman is otherwise completely deserted. She got to try it out with having to deal with being all self-conscious about others being around. When we went, I took her to the main office so they could get her info (it's required) and I pay her entry fee. Checking in is important as it helps keep out the weirdos.
Now compare this to when her mother thinks she's going for the first time...
She sends her there overnight, with an underage niece, where they promptly get shit-faced drunk and then go to the dance where someone, against the rules, takes all sorts of pictures of them and then emails them around on the Internet. Add to this that the niece is NOT a full member and they snuck in using her aunt's entry key. This was plain wrong and it was also criminal (as in illegal) on so many levels.
As for her fathers question, why didn't I think? Sir, I may be disabled, quiet, slow to speak, geeky, shy, introverted and more, but I am paid to think. It's what I do for a living and I am paid very well for it. I am an engineer, not an airport baggage handler.
Okay, that part is over. A week later I took my friend to the opening night of the Country Thunder concert. I promised her I would take her and I keep my promises. That night, I dropped her off and home and I have not seen her since.
I don't hate her but I am angry and I will do my best never be in her physical presence again. To do so consistently results in disaster and stress on my part. Who needs that shit? I don't.
Back to the resort.
The next few times I go several people subtlety broach the subject. They don't ask outright, but you know they have been gossiping all about it. Who gives a shit?. As usual I relax by the pool and read my book. I keep going.
Then one day I go and it happens to be my friend's cousin's birthday. The same underage one who sneaked her in and got her drunk. I go over and wish her a happy 21st birthday and give her a hug and then I go back to my book. As I am sitting there I hear two women talking and one says "and would you believe that Daniel went over and hugged her". Why this pissed me off I don't know but it did. I packed my book and towel, showered and went home.
My friends have said I should go back just as a way of telling the idiot busybody gossipers to kiss my now pearly white ass, but that's not why I went there. I went there because I felt safe and I wanted to relax and and have a nice time. A couple of idiots stole all the sunshine and it's just not pleasant anymore. It empty now, so I'm done.
To Cathy (and Ron too), Jim and Maxine, thanks for the wonderful conversations. You are wonderful people. To the owners and staff, thanks for a safe family environment. But, to a select few, and you know who you are, just play your cards and shut up.