Monday, October 24, 2011

Testy Key West

The new fad for zombies convinced quite a few people to ride bicycles on Sunday while dressed as the living dead, as a Fantasy week parade. Shanna Key Irish Pub must have been on the route.

I liked how this sign forces compliance simply by it's presence. One is obliged to obey.

This petulant message requires one to ponder. Who messes with a palm? And why? And what exactly do they do to the poor defenseless thing? Unspeakable acts no doubt that required the planting of the sign.

This next sign doesn't look terribly testy but it's just a cute way of telling potential visitors to please bugger off. Me No Sen You No Come is a community in the self governing area of Maroon Country in Jamaica, a tight knit tribal community that earned it's independence from the British. By not letting outsiders in.

On a more hospitable note we find this frayed old coconut carefully and mysteriously placed on a wall. In Key West pineapples are symbols of welcome to outsiders.

Lacking a pineapple Cheyenne and I noted the coconut. It was the best we could do.

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Pizza And Prostitutes

It was many years ago when I lived in Santa Cruz, California and I was working at Pizza My Heart delivering pizza. That was me on the left with the beard and stupid grin. The male Madonna on the right with the patient stare was Ben, my dispatcher.

We delivered from the basement of the pizza shop upstairs in a brick building just off Pacific Avenue downtown. Pizza My Heart still exists on Pacific Avenue but they had to move as this building was knocked down in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake which wrecked thirty percent of downtown Santa Cruz and killed half a dozen people. Ironically my wife lawyered in the law firm upstairs and ran from the building in her stockinged feet as the building started to collapse. I didn't know her at the time which was just as well as I was in love. Something close enough to love in a twenty four year old.

Embarrassingly enough I can't even remember her name but that look, when you are 24 is the equivalent of Marlene Dietrich under a street light. She drove like a maniac, smoked like a chimney and treated me like her pet hamster.

She was a tease too, and to my eternal irritation I couldn't hold a camera still in half light in a basement when presented with an acre of straining buttock. This was the best picture I could manage under the circumstances.

Pizza My Heart, unlike me, was a hip business in a hip and hippie university town. The owners were young entrepreneurs (we called them businessmen in those days) and they marketed their product with brilliance in a world weary town filled with students. We were busy and we made money. Because Santa Cruz in 1983 was filled with VWs we all drove Bugs, Hatchbacks, Karman Ghias and vans if we wanted to get laid. I hadn't yet got my van (with naugahyde bed in the back...) and was driving a pale green Golf Diesel. It was supposed to be my economy vehicle, even though gas cost about $1:25 a gallon. Mind you minimum wages were around $2:25 in California back then so a high mileage diesel car seemed a good idea, especially as I was going to use it to subsidize my studies by driving for cash.

I blew the Mitsubishi engine twice in that stupid slow pig of a car before I gave it away and got the sexy van. Meanwhile I delivered pizza with the pig. Uphill to the University of California campus buried in the redwoods, over on the suburban desert that was the Westside where students lived off campus and I got to know all the streets and alleys and pot plantations in the urban forest that was Live Oak to the east. I made friends at work because I didn't like dope and I passed off my tips in kind to my hard core colleagues. I drove a diesel and I didn't smoke dope but I was dopey. She was out of reach. Especially considering I rode a Vespa P200 back then, and that was not hip in the early 80's. I had nothing going for me.

I have no picture of the VW Golf diesel but here's a picture of my epic VW van in which I camped all over the place. I went mountain biking in Death Valley in summer which was a bad idea and went up to Yosemite Valley in mid winter to get some snow pictures which was even worse as the engine wouldn't start in cold damp conditions and I had to get up every two hours, teeth chattering to turn the engine over before it froze. I also took it to Mexico where I had a great time even after thieves rifled through it and found...nothing worth stealing.

Anyway there I was in the great city on the shores of Monterey Bay delivering pizza and living with a cougar of wild lust in my heart for my fellow driver who barely knew I existed.

"Hey, Michael, delivery up!" they called down to the basement. Drivers were not allowed behind the counter as we weren't properly dressed to be in food preparation so they slung the box at me at the back of the store and I checked the address on the way out. No wonder they gave me the evil grin. It was the whorehouse on 38th Avenue on the edge of Capitola.

In those days massage parlors were actually whorehouses as the idea of getting a non sexual massage was a pastime reserved for weird Europeans and back woods hippies in California (Kiva was the actual massage parlor in Santa Cruz). But we all knew it was sex for sale not back rubs on 38th. I managed to huff and puff my diesel into the driveway of the unexceptional little bungalow set back off the street. I knocked politely and as expected found the resident at the door in her diaphanous nightie.

She smiled seductively, I think, because her assets were barely covered and I was young and impressionable. I gulped, "twelve dollars please," and held out the cardboard box like a peace offering. She smiled and produced a purse from somewhere and frowned. "Oh dear," she pouted, "it's been a quiet night." The shortage of cash meant I had to follow her into living room where she put me on a couch while the three whores shuffled around in their underwear wobbling and cursing looking for my money.

"I don't suppose you'd take it in kind?" she pouted, fluttered and put a soft gentle claw like hand on my thigh. I admit I was tempted but I had to haul twelve bucks back to the store to balance the books and that was a lot of money. Sad but true. They all three shrugged, as though in a last effort to seduce me with their bobbling veiled breasts, before one put on a raincoat and went to the ATM. It took a while and we talked of this and that and I discovered they were nice young women who had not been born with silver spoons who preferred a few minutes on their backs to working long slogging hours on their feet. Then as now I wonder why their job choice was illegal. I got a nice tip too, by the way. They were very sweet.

I would have found it a lot easier to buy my sailboat had I been endowed with their talents, but that's beside the point.

As it was I got back to my boring regular driving job quite a bit after I left. My nonchalance on arrival was not feigned. It simply never occurred to me that anyone had been wondering about my activities at the whorehouse. I was greeted by arched eyebrows and leers. "They had no money," I announced in total innocence. My explanation was greeted by a round of awed silence. The best part was She was suddenly intrigued by the little dork in the back of the basement. It did me little good because soon enough Ben decided to make an honest woman of her and they announced publicly what everyone except me had known for a while; they were a couple and had decided to move in together. It was nice for a while being the object of sexual awe. Then I just went back to being a nerd which was actually much more comfortable. And I got rid of the stupid diesel.

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Wild Skies And Water

We started out and I was shocked by how much water was still flooding everything. Cheyenne looked twice, paused, hitched up her britches and followed me into the muck.

There was some blue up there which was nice to see.

Some of the puddles were half way up to my knees.

It was terribly gothic.

The water on the ground looked like quicksilver... looked like we were going to drown.

Cheyenne started to have a good time as the ground dried out by sniffing everything in sight while I was having fun with the camera and the light.

The sun broke through and colors started to appear.

Back on dry land I unfurled Motorcycle Classics and off we went.

I was catching up on my history of motorcycling and Cheyenne was cleaning up left over deer. Or sun dried fish parts or something I didn't care to investigate.

And all was well with the world.

I prefer sunshine to rain. No doubt about it.

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Dinner At The Club

The buggers wanted to celebrate my birthday a week early, because I'm working on Halloween and thus won't be available and also because they know I am no fan of birthdays in general. So they torture me and I take full advantage by declaring my preference for dinner at the Harbor Yacht Club on Stock Island, an oasis. It was in fact my wife's idea because she knows my preferences.

We sat on the balcony upstairs and talked of this and that, our collective feeling of helplessness in the face of societal contraction, and at the same time our good fortune facing the difficult years ahead down here among friends.

Across Cow Key Channel white lights twinkled at water level along the mangroves; they were kayakers out for a dusk paddle.

We had crusty shrimp and crab cake first, I indulged my middle aged taste with a rare gin and tonic which came in a pint glass (!) and helped the problems of the world recede for a while.

It was cool outside so three of us put on sweatshirts. Chuck, fetching in dark green complained of waking up in the night with his teeth chattering and I tried to make sympathetic noises about the misery of a 68 degree night. I should have put my own sweatshirt on in solidarity I suppose.

This is not a climate to bitch about, that's for sure.

Nor was the food, slices of snapper and risotto...

...pork chops and potatoes, Pinot noir flowing and cheerful banter from Dan our Romanian lawyer turned American waiter who had humor and flair and good service all sorted out.

We ate and talked and drank over the course of several leisurely hours and I got the rare pleasure of feeling like it was a dinner worth celebrating. Too often one pays a lot for not much in return and these days that sort of slovenly service grates the nerves more than usual.

We ended dinner with a candle bedecked carrot cake which was really quite excellent and a bizarre dessert of chocolate pannini served as seen above with a pot of warm chocolate dipping sauce.

Wayne was our designated driver and he took the long way home dropping my wife and I off first though we live further up the highway, then doubling back to his and Chuck's place last.

It was a dark night, the moon is rising late and Cheyenne after greeting me deliriously as usual on my return helped me water the plants before we turned in.

In bed with the louvered windows open I could hear the wind rustling the palm fronds outside, a sound that reminds me that Fall is here, the air conditioning is turned off for now and a sweatshirt is survival gear in the trunk of the car.

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