Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Case of the Missing Flip-flop

If you want to hear the truth about something, just ask the kids! 

That's exactly what happened upon our return from a nice and relaxing family vacation in Florida - three eager grandparents inquiring: "How was it"?!

And to my utmost surprise, rather than bragging that one learned how to swim while the other one lost three baby teeth - earning a whopping $30 from a ridiculously generous southern tooth fairy - the following information was shared:
"Mama kicked three women out of the swimming pool and Aba… Aba said the F-word!!!" 

Three grandparents looked quizzically straight at me. Was this true? Great. Just  g r e a t.

I take zero credit for the idea to actually go on vacation while being on vacation. It was my husband and a scene from his favourite Meet the Fockers coupled with his zest to be on the move introducing us to the southernmost tropical island of Key West

Key West must do: Cuban Coffee Queen
I should have known that booze consumed by other people would have been the deciding factor in this travel experience. A rowdy bachelor party of about 15, all wearing bright pink T-shirts with a guy's stupid face printed on it labelled with the promising "Frank Da Tank" hashtag boarded the early morning fast liner. When the bar opened at 7:30 AM they all promptly and tidily lined up ready to begin the weekend-long liver challenge. Call me a sexist, I don't care - although I think it's more my feminist's outlook - but it's never a drunken man that irritates me the most. Sure he looks stupid as he shouts something illegible making everyone burst into laughter that sounds more like snorts and grunts than anything else. But it was the three drunken women at the hotel pool who were well into their thirties and blatantly begging for the attention of the aforementioned pink-shirted party that really bothered me. I'm a life coach -- if lucky, there will be a few sessions before any of them gets to understand the concept of self-love and self-worth. When high-pitched screams and forced laughter failed to get the attention of the already-plastered bachelors' crew, they resorted to the option B that usually guarantees a double take: girl on girl action!  
I was averting a major pool fight between my own boys all the while obsessing that neither of their mouths would come in contact with the pool water (I'm not brave enough to imagine the chemical content of it given the amount of beer cups lining the poolside) when my 7-year-old pointed and yelled loudly: "Look JoJo, BOOBS!" 
View from the old Lighthouse
And indeed, boobs there were, as two out of three clearly desperate yet not-that-young women engaged in French kissing while grabbing each other's bathing suit tops. And attention they definitely got from a 4 and a 7- year-old and their not-so-amused mother. But alas, no attention from the guys in the bachelor party.

The usually-patient me cursed the 5-star hotel's delayed late check-in, which had forced me to take the kids to the pool to spare the lobby patrons the Hunger-Games-worthy battles that usually occur when there is space and sofa pillows and chandeliers. 

That's when I noticed that one of the women was under water, while another who had been licking that one's face just a second earlier was attempting to yank on her limp arm in order to lift her up. The third woman was just standing next to them, eyeing the pack of guys from under her mascara-smudged lids while professionally wearing her RBF. I was starting to get nervous when the woman's head finally emerged.  A second later she splashed again face first to the other side. 
"You have to get her out of the pool!" - I made eye contact with the woman who was still making no move to help her friend. And while I understood this was likely their attention-grabbing strategy I was becoming increasingly anxious seeing the nose and mouth both still fully immersed even though quite a few seconds passed. 
"Get her out! Get her out" - all of a sudden the pink shirts all hopped off their lounge chairs, leaving their booze behind. Clearly, this was serious. 
The 'drowning' girl, although pale and dazed, re-emerged sporting a faint smile. I guess she was acting after all. Then the third chick, aware that none of the dudes had actually jumped to the rescue - it wasn't a bottle of Smirnoff being dropped in the pool after all - looked menacingly at me while unleashing a stream of words - Was I crazy??? Didn't I know how to have some fun??!! Why was I creating all this drama?!!! Each of these were laced with a certain word that rhymes with - er... witch? 

"Shut up and get out of the pool! And sober up! I'm calling security!" - I growled with so much force I actually surprised myself, never mind stunning the kids. In return, I got two determined and one hesitant middle finger waved at me as they sloppily collected their sunglasses and smart-phones and dripped away to the Key West sunset. Phew!

The following day, while playing real tourists, boarding the Conch Train Island Tour, my husband had a chance to show the kids he too knows how to be a - er... witch? 
Conch Train on famous Duval St.

Three couples and their numerous kids all over the age of 10 were already on the train when we occupied the last four spots, trying to escape the heat. As the driver humorously outlined the tour's safety rules: "keep your arms, legs, little kids and other belongings in at all times as we don't stop for lost arms, legs or little kids..." the group was already getting their party started - drinking coolers wrapped in tacky Key West memorabilia (It’s my Birthday Bitch!) and eating sunflower seeds with such ferocity the shells pretty much rained over everything. 

I really wanted to hear why so many roosters are free to roam the island and why each ceiling of the signature Key West porches were painted blue, never mind the countless anecdotes of the island's famous inhabitants like Ernest
Blue ceiling on a Key Lime house
Hemingway or Tennessee Williams - but the group wouldn't allow it. The constant banter and shrieks had the rest of the tourists, us included, constantly shushing them. The train driver made few unexpected stops in order to make a point - but to no avail. A woman I'll call Shabana (chosen by the most prevalent logo she wore) was particularly determined to have a great time. Every time someone asked for the group to tone it down, things seemed to get exponentially funnier to her. Just as we made a decision to hop off and switch trains on the next stop, Shabana started screaming - "Stoooop, stop, stop the train!!! I dropped my flip flop!!!" 
Boy, karma works real fast down South! 
Our burly driver - named BJ if we were to believe his name-tag - took real pleasure in repeating the safety regulations we heard prior to the train leaving, enunciating every syllable with painful precision. 
In my next life, I'll want to be a rooster on Key West
"You are welcome to collect your lost belongings with the understanding you cannot board this train again ma’am”. Ha, a pickle indeed!

What Shabana didn't lack in the vocal department she definitely lacked in charm and attitude - she pouted and demanded and threatened while listing all of her requests. It did not work - BJ was rock solid and determined to follow the SOPs to the letter.
Shabana was still arguing when my inner - er... witch could not hold it in any more: "I really think you should go get it! All of you, just go get the poor flip flop!”- I was actually sounding friendly yet convincing. But we were a 20-minute walk away in scorching heat from the next stop and there were a dozen of them in their group. The verdict: my Shabana lost her Dolce and Gabbana!

At the next stop as they got off the train, she turned to me with evil look in her eyes and yelled her curse: "I hope you lose something you LOVE!" The always practical me looked at her, shrugged and suggested: “...or you just go buy another pair of flip-flops?”

I don't know if that answer managed to anger her towering husband but he angrily got right into Ram's face - "You'd better get off here, 'cause we are gonna continue to talk!" unaware he was talking to an Israeli. "Are you threatening me?!" - my otherwise sweet husband suddenly turned the volume up. "F*ck yourself" - the man muttered. "No, YOU FUCK YOURSELF!!!" bellowed my brave hubby taking an unreasonably large step forward, of all directions available. A crowd formed. Our little kids started crying. My hands trembled and I squeezed kids closer to me. Thankfully, BJ broke it off with a single thunder of a command: "EVERYBODY SHUT UP! Especially YOU" turning a huge finger towards a man who had just attempted to hit my husband with a mega bag of sunflower seeds - it looked like a giant piñata broke! "YOU AND YOUR GROUP ARE NOT COMING BACK ON THIS TRAIN." Shabana, in the true fashion of her people, threw a shoe at him. Or should I say her other flip-flop. 
The Southernmost Point

As the train left, we nestled into the seats the dirty dozen used to occupy. As for them, they were now surrounding the tour supervisor - kicking, screaming and demanding a full refund for all 12 of their tickets. As our train disappeared turning the corner, I took a slim island map folder from underneath me - I had accidentally sat on it as the fresh group of tourists boarded. In it were six adult and seven children's tickets with a neatly-stapled receipt for close to $400 paid in cash. Guess there won’t be a money back guarantee coming after all - the Southernmost recycling bin made sure of that! 

A - I love beer. On a hot summer day, there is nothing I like better than a cold Stella Artois on tap. Or a Corona Light. Or Mill St. Organic. Or Loose Cannon. Or Belgian citrus laced Shock Top. 
B - I did make a subtle comment while on that train intended for my husband's ears only: "Jerry Springer Show people are actually  r e a l". So perhaps it wasn't so subtle...


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  3. THIS IS HILARIOUS. You are amazing, Marina. xo