It is my last day in Key West. Checkout time was at eleven and I’m spending a few hours amusing myself at the hotel bar before it’s time to catch a cab to the airport. From there, it’s a short hop to Miami followed by a five-hour flight to San Francisco. At least I’ll have a window seat on the way back. I can look out the window at the lights of towns in Texas and feel grateful that I don’t live in any of them.
This has been a good vacation and I hope to come back some day. One thing that made my stay so pleasant was that I didn’t really have to do anything. There were few sites I felt obliged to visit, didn’t want to try to get laid, and nap time came whenever I damn well felt like it. I guess it means I’m getting old. I’m OK with that.
Actually, my activities did extend beyond getting liquored up at the hotel bar followed by a trip to my room to sleep it off. If you read about the entry about my trip to the cemetery, you already know that I did manage to get out and walk around a bit.
There was the trip to the old Customs House, which has become both an art gallery and historical museum. My favorite exhibit was the ambulance-driver uniform Ernest Hemingway wore when the mortar hit him during World War I. The sign next to it directed my attention to the stain on the trousers though I forget if it resulted from blood from his wound or if he got really scared and shat himself.
I also visited the Hemingway House, which did little to clear up the stained-pants mystery but provided insight into Papa’s personal life when he was married to wife number whatever. The walls were adorned with pictures of him crouching next to animals he shot or standing with marlins hanging by their tails. He apparently liked to hunt and fish. Who knew?
To be honest, all I was interested in seeing was his typewriter and the feral mutant cats that lived on the premises. The typewriter was in the upstairs of the back unit and the six-toed felines lounged and roamed where it suited them at the moment. The cats are fed and cared for by the people who manage the property. It struck me as an enviable existence, much better than their ancestors had to endure when Hemingway would get drunk and lumber into the backyard stark naked with a shotgun, determined to bag himself a lion.
Most of my time was spent wandering to and fro, lost in thought as my bare legs donated blood to the local mosquito population. Since I was alone, I was under no obligation to engage in witty banter with anyone. When I felt the need to amuse myself, I thought up something involving poop. I’m not a tough crowd.
Last night was the most social time I had during my stay. I managed to join in an ongoing conversation by agreeing with something someone had said, which is pretty tactful for me. My shyness often keeps me silent until I’m well into my cups, at which point I blurt out something like “This hot weather sure does make the slime build up around my balls!” Such an outburst would be tolerated at the Argus where the bartenders and regulars know me well enough to just roll their eyes and get on with it. Here at the hotel bar it would not be so well received.
I drank multiple martinis but behaved admirably, at least comparatively speaking. The evening’s award for Most Embarrassing went to a woman sitting next to me who introduced herself as “Maddalurzz.” Her name wasn’t foreign, only slurred.
“My son may be book smart but he’s a complete dumbshit,” she announced to the bar with motherly love. She then went on to say how her kid was trying to get into the University of Illinois, which included him having to write a letter to the dean of admission. This task had somehow been foisted upon her. Whether she planned to take on the job before or after hitting the bottle, she didn’t say.
I had no practical advice when she lamented having no idea how to write the letter. You see, I went to San Diego State where the only requirement to get accepted was to spell one’s name correctly on the application form.
Looking back, I could have offered a couple of useful tips. For instance, using a spell checker might help. So would rehab.