In fact we had a glorious few days in Key West, where the air was as sticky and hot as dragon snot (thanks again, Jules). Just the way we like it. I return home the tint of a Globetrotter, and Guido grew about a million addition freckles, give or take a mouthful.
We varied the routine a bit this time. For the first time ever, on the voyage down we wandered off US-1 to visit the No-Name Pub on Big Pine Key. Did you know the most popular sign in Big Pine is “No Outlet?” Seems to be on every street sign, no matter where and what the name of the street is. And yet it’s still pretty easy to get lost, especially with Google maps.
Also, for the first time since our initial visit in 1985, we spent time on the beach. This is because some brave souls in our party wanted to sail a catamaran for an hour, and the rest of us wanted, well, not to. So we camped out on the sand and watched. For me to climb aboard a boat, I’d have to be kidnapped or keel-hauled. Even though the water was flat as a runway, crystal clear, and practically boiling, I walk no planks unless they’re attached to terra firma.
Of course, there are certain routines we follow religiously. First night in town we need our raw oysters and pitchers of beer at The Raw Bar in Key West Bight. It’s also customary to get Duval-faced on Shit Street. And it was great to hang out with Fran G’Panni again — but Fran: can’t you convince The Bull to stock some drinkable beers? Bad enough they’re not as cold as they should be — do they need to taste like ass?
But back up — here’s what happened on the way down.
We’re making decent time, snacking on strawberries, and watching the numbers on the mile markers grow smaller and smaller. When the road in Marathon merges into one lane, we know it’s time to fish out the first two beers of the day from the cooler to celebrate the Crossing of Seven Mile Bridge, my favorite tradition. It used to be Rolling Rock, but when that venerable brand was hijacked by Anheuser-Busch and turned into Bud Green, it all ended ugly. In fact, I still have the very last bottle of genuine Latrobe PA RR I ever drank — drained coming home from KW over the 7-Mile Bridge.
So over the years we’ve tried various others — Harpoon Summer Ale, Grolsch, Key West Sunset Ale, Red Hook Sun Rye (no longer brewed damn their eyes: it was wonderful!), Pike Naughty Nellie — but this time I cracked open a Red Stripe, a beer made famous in Jamaica, itself now brewed in Latrobe, like Rolling Rock in its heyday. See the connection?
I have my first pull when the tires hit the bridge….. and all’s right with the world. AQ cold flush of taste and effervescence while the sun beats down through the open roof, the sky glows blue as new Levis, the water is green-blue on the west and blue-green to the east, and the salt smell reminds us why humans occupy coasts.
Traffic rolls lazily — what’s the hurry — then slows, then bunches, then stops. I mean: stops. And then starts crawling along and stops again. The pattern repeats. We’re in a traffic jam, right smack-dab in the middle of 7-Mile Bridge.
I look at Guido. I see the old bridge to our right, boaters bobbing in its shadow, birds flying both over and under the arches. The scent of the sea, the sound of waves lapping. We have cold beer, good music, and all the time in the world. I am certain I have never before been so delighted to be stuck in traffic anywhere else on earth.
We start moving again — but damn: I need another beer! These Red Stripes are 11.2 oz “stubs,” cold as a nun’s nethers, and hell –we’re out here an extra 10 minutes! What a great traffic tie-up. Do we hafta go?
Turns out some poor bastard hauling a gigantic yacht had himself a blow-out, and the trailer he’s pulling sports a tire down to the rim — pure metal, shrieking like a martyr on the rack as he creeps along. Once we get by, all returns to normal. I finish my bonus beer. Hey, plenty of sweat, but no hurry.
Like I say, great weekend. In the Keys, it’s just all good. The countdown to late August’s visit begins.
Bonus Question: Explain the title of this post.