Bent Words

Bent Words

February 01, 2006


The oceanside Sunset Celebration is chock full of entertaining fire eaters, dancers and acrobatic stunts. The persons performing these acts aren't professionals -- they're just locals who figured they would pilfer a buck or two from the swarm of tourists by swallowing a stick of fire. Hell, I swallowed a match once when I was two and I didn't get any cash for it so I wasn't about to waste my precious money on these loud mouthed loonies. But the show was still pretty interesting to see.

A couple toward the end of the main celebration area were dancing their little hearts out and 'daring' someone from the audience to hand over $20.00.

"Don't laugh," the male dancer exclaimed, "it has happened before."

I highly doubted that.

Everyone was packing up by the time the sun was completely drenched in the Gulf waters. A woman pulled a cart full of freshly buttered popcorn behind her while chirping angrily to the person on the other end of her cell phone. As we made our way into the tourist gift shop, I watched her grumble as she disappeared down a cobblestone road in front of us.

Inside the Gift Shop, one could find every single artifact imaginable that they would have absolutely no use for. Dead fish, priced at $450.00, clung to the dusty walls. Shells that one could otherwise easily obtain by taking a quick jaunt down any beach with a fifty miles radius filled bins upon bins of space. Models of the Southernmost Point cluttered the wooden shelves of the old, uneven floored building and dried Seahorses were strewn about tables, just begging passersby to poke at their spiny backs.

John bought me a ten year old picture frame with fake Seahorses lining the border and thus we completed our end of the tourist obligated bargain.

We drove back to the hotel and were lucky enough to be able to wedge ourselves into a parking spot in front of the white, swinging gate. It was about 7:00 p.m. and we had packed some provisions including a bottle of Diet Coke filled a quarter way with Captain Morgan, two packs of smokes and the annoying wind-up camera.

Having walking about two miles back into the main area of town, we passed every shop imaginable. There were T-Shirt shops and military clothing shops, a shop filled exclusively with purses and surfer shops with questionable paraphernalia lining the window displays. There were music shops and Jimmy Buffet shops with more questionable paraphernalia and tons upon tons of bars blaring tropical music. The town troubadour sat solitary between two shops and sang while strumming his guitar woefully to the night sky. I bought a lime green, sequenced belt that completely clashed with my loose, brown slacks and 'librarian sweater.' But it was a necessary item and I installed this new article of clothing at our first stop; a bar called Fat Tuesdays.

It was Wednesday, though, and suddenly all sense of time illuded us.

John enjoyed a raspberry slushy type concoction while I squinted at my oatmeal-like Mud Slide. We took our plastic cups out onto the sidewalk and enjoyed the balmy air. In his wallet, John had saved a business card from a shop he had visited two or three years ago. The same shop still occupied the bustling street full of window shoppers and we stopped by to see the intimate Key West drawings by Alberto de Andrea. He had paintings of Hemingway's house and The Southernmost Point. He had a variety of people's names drawn out of palm trees and dolphins and other tropical life. He showcased a number of hotels, the Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square and a number of portraits of those who have lived in Key West.

Having been driving for the better part of the day, we were relatively tired and hungry and thus we made our last stop to a bar called Willie Ts which we had both noticed earlier.

A chicken pizza with an orange sauce and a couple of drinks rounded out our evening. We headed back to The Grand and I found myself sleeping soundly for the first night since we arrived in Florida.

That is, until the damned wild roosters started crowing in the morning...

*** To Be Continued...

Written at 6:04 p.m.