Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kirk And Jay's Key West

My wife's cousin Kirk came to visit from Seattle.We took them walking round Key West as one does and they were suitably entranced by the architecture of a town they had never previously seen. Cheyenne, who has seen a great deal of Key West in the 14 months we have been together remains entranced by the sights and smells of the city. She is seen here viewing Jimmy Buffett's recording studio. We were not alone pausing at the monument at Greene and Elizabeth Streets. These urchins seemed very taken by their souvenirs.In the fullness of time Kirk's long time buddy Jay showed up after trolling around the waterfront.We walked and talked with the two Seattle attorneys as we made our way across town to the ice cream store on Upper Duval. Our guests were not alone in finding much to admire in the Southernmost City.I always feel a certain obligation to photograph the damned chickens because people do find them fascinating. I am less entranced by them.I have to confess I have no desire to dress up like this clown either. He was offering himself to passers by with cameras as though this odd get up were something of merit. Perhaps it is, a sign of his balls where I have none, when it comes to giving up my dignity.Snowbird season is upon us and it's in full swing recession or not. One sign of snowbird season is the sudden proliferation of helmets. You can't swing a cat in Key West these days without knocking over a cyclist who is wearing bicycle appropriate clothing.Sitting out in front of the ice cream parlor we saw dozens of helmeted (moto-) cyclists, some wearing spandex cycling shorts and bicycle gloves- the ones with the finger tips cut off. Local insouciance was also on display.I ordered a small Key Lime sorbet from Flamingo Crossing. Sorbets are water based and are thus not sold in cones. A dish of sorbet is as much as I can eat even in the small size.I think Flamingo Crossing on Duval at Virginia has the best ice cream anywhere in Florida- a broad claim I know but there we are. When I want high calorie ice cream I like their tropical fruits, soursop most particularly. Kirk was on a more conventional chocolate based jag.
When we lived in Santa Cruz, California, it was a matter of fifteen hours by car up Interstate Five, or a couple of hours by plane to visit Kirk and his family. Kirk used to be a big shot lawyer in Seattle managing a law firm that included the mythical Bill Gates' Dad, a name that tends to attract attention much to my amusement as Kirk is as indifferent to fame as he is to protocol. Since he retired Kirk looks to my eye to be much more relaxed of course but his sense of humor remains his stock in trade.This I would be willing to bet is not a snowbird on a bicycle.Tourists taking their beers for a walk. I have no idea if it is legal or not, but I am one of those fuddy duddies who likes to sit down while drinking. Helmetless rental bicycles, thus blowing apart all generalizations.Jay posed for me momentarily which was very kind of him. The idea is for the lawyers to bring their families to Key West in late April to enjoy warmer weather and sunshine with children and wives and the whole nine yards. Jay is so laid back he was embarrassed that his phone kept ringing and he had to huddle by himself on the sidewalk negotiating some improbable deal underway in the snowy wastes of Washington State.Kirk was always the patriarch of the "younger" generation and his home above a lake in Seattle was the gathering place for the clan. Layne and I showed up with our dogs and he greeted them with the same welcome as he did for the children of more conventional families.
In a moment of light headedness my wife told Kirk about Guayaberas, the classic Cuban shirt. Which was how we came to find ourselves at Beall's outlet on the Boulevard as the two men of law were preparing to leave town. Kirk had got into the key West thing, "I could see myself living here," he muttered speculatively as he sat in the shade enjoying the winter warmth. "Of course there isn't a hope in Hell," he added vehemently, "unless the grand kids uproot themselves from the Bay Area." When Kirk's wife retires from a career of teaching in Seattle they will be moving to the San Francisco Bay Area for that very reason. Rather them than me. I suggested to Kirk that these shorts, on the Sale rack at Bealls (pronounced "Bells" for no known reason) would set him up for a role in a remake of the movie Cocoon. He liked the idea. "There is a golf course around here?" he asked hopefully. Cheap too, I said, repeating what my friends have told me.But it was the shirt rack we had come to ravage.Jay was more modest in his sartorial aspirations. The heavy lifting was going on in this corner."55 percent linen" Kirk crowed as he admired the embroidery and the pockets."You don't need any more shirts," my wife hissed at me. "Besides you're so hairy you'd need an undershirt to wear something like that," she added giving the coup de grace to my modest attempt at rebellion. I gave up under shirts and ties as a bad job after I left boarding school.

It was, all in all a very successful visit.