THIS STORY TAKES PLACE IN 2018 when my company hosted our annual conference in San Diego at the famous Hotel Del Coronado.
For those who don’t know, Hotel Del is a lavish, old-world gem.
Since the hotel is exclusive (read: expensive), our event was a VIP affair. Only 150 attendees max.
One of those attendees was Magnus.
Magnus was a man who lived up to his name. He was 300 pounds of Scandanavian brawn. The CEO of one of our vendors, Magnus was loud, inappropriate, and loved to party. He was the type of guy who would walk up and ask you the most personal question you’ve ever been asked, then stare at you until you responded. But he somehow did so in a way that was childishly endearing and attracted other people into his orbit, if only to see what crazy thing he would say next. Chalk it up to his poor English, you might think. Or the different norms of his Icelandic homeland. Whatever the reason for his outlandish behavior, he usually got away with it, too.
One the first night of the conference, the attendees were out on the beach roasting gourmet s’mores around a bonfire.
It was a calm evening.
The moon glowed on the water.
The lights of the hotel twinkled in the background.
After my third s’more, I decided it was time to pack it in for the night.
I said “See you at breakfast” to the people I’d been talking to and dug my feet into the sand, standing up and turning toward the hotel.
As I made my way up the beach, I stared up at the sky and appreciated the brightness of the stars — a view I rarely got in the city. Just as I spotted the Big Dipper, something massive whirled by and knocked me on my ass.
There was giggling in the darkness, followed by the deep, churning splash of bodies diving into the water.
Dazed, I sat up in the sand and looked toward the shore.
The boom was followed by the splash of a humpback whale.
Except it wasn’t a whale.
It was Magnus.
There were three or four women in the water, all topless, and one 300-pound naked Icelandic male. How he had convinced the women to go skinnydipping with him, I’ll never know.
Not wanting to be a perv and stare — but definitely not wanting to join — I got up and kept walking to my room as the sounds of frollicking skinnydippers faded into the distance.
The next day at breakfast everyone was talking about it. The nude swimmers had apparently drifted upshore to where the party was happening and caused quite a scene when hotel management escorted them away from the VIP area. Apparently, when security heard the offenders were VIPs (who didn’t speak much English, although I think Magnus must’ve played the don’t-be-racist-against-my-Icelandic-culture card), they let them off with a warning.
Let this be a lesson to all of you wondering whether it’s a good idea to go skinnydipping at conferences. Don’t do it unless accompanied by a 300-pound Icelandic man who can charm his way out of anything.