“Chaos surrounds you, doesn’t it?” asked my new best gal pal, Upset Waitress as we slurped mimosas at 8 a.m. and she served RG Son and I gigantic plates of the best breakfast stuff in the world.
“You mean like a hurricane of crap always swirling around me as I serenely continue on my way, leaving everything in pieces behind me?” I laughed.
“Yep, chaos. I knew you had it. I like chaos in a person!”
That’s why UW and I get along so well. Love me, love my chaos. Just duck now and then.
To wit, my chaos in the past four days:
Thursday night–Get a call from my not-so-crazy friend to meet her at the beach bar with her pal. Reluctantly, I agree, because, well, you know. We have a couple of glasses of wine and they decide to go to another spot “with a band playing.” I have just started a conversation with a gentle giant of a lawyer turned bartender turned lawyer again. The lawyer is intelligent and funny by SoFla standards (meaning he can discuss something other than when we’re going to have sex or who he last had sex with), and asks if he can meet up later with me and my friends later. What the heck? No romance here, folks. Just fun. Besides, I have to pick up RG Son at the airport at midnight, and this place is sort of on the way.
When I arrive at the spot where there’s music, I notice the band is set up outside and there is no one else there to hear it except my friend and her friend and two of their guy friends. Oh, unless you count the three barnacles sitting at the inside bar, who, in all their grizzledness, probably haven’t left this dying little seaside spot for decades. But hey, the band is actually good, and my pals are dancing.
Enter the chaos.
One of the guy pals asks me to dance, and it turns out he is a phenomenal dancer. Which brings out a “Dancing with the Stars” act that neither of us knew we had in us. It is still 1000 degrees with 1000 percent humidity, but we dance and dance and dance–twirls, spins and more–until we are beat to death and look and feel like we have run 10 miles in the tropics. Which is when the lawyer makes an entrance and when my crazy friend decides to grab a mic and sing along with the band and when the three barnacles leave the inside bar for the first time in years and are now outside clapping and cheering us all on. I can’t imagine why I haven’t heard from the lawyer since. 😉
Friday night–Grab my Marlboro Boys pal and her sister and RG Son, and we go to the beach bar to have dinner and watch fireworks. Having not seen the boy there in weeks, I am convinced he is out of town. Unfortunately, he is in town on this night. As we make our way inside to sit at the bar after dinner, there he is perched on the other side, chatting with the bartender. Great. But hey, no worries. Now RG Son can meet the full cast of characters.
Chaos, do not let me down.
As the boy wanders outside to smoke, I wonder aloud if this would be a good time to let the boy know how I feel so that I can attain that wonderful but sometimes overrated state of closure. “Go, speak your peace,” the friend and her sister agree.
Almost immediately, the boy gives me the “I am just not ready for a committed relationship” line.
To which I reply, “Committed relationship? What the hell did you think I wanted? I don’t want to marry you, live with you, have your children, take your money, or even see you more than a few nights a week!” The reality being, of course, he was really talking about not being able to commit to a time when he would call me to make plans for calling me later to maybe make plans for sometime later.
I tell him how hurt I am and how used and stupid I feel. He apologizes several times and tries to reassure me with “You’re great. It’s just me.” Even I, in my stupid girl mentality can only think, “Oh, please.”
And I ask him, “If you didn’t want any kind of commitment of any type whatsoever, then why did you swoop down and smother me with all the calls and texts and right words and actions that indicated otherwise? Why? Why bother?”
To which he answered, “Why wouldn’t I?”
To which my stomach responded by clenching into a very tight knot.
Come on chaos, time to call it a night.
Saturday in the Keys–After an afternoon of snorkeling, we are tired and salty. No Bates Motel this time for this gal. No, no. When there was no room at one fancy resort, the nice reservationist offered to book us a room at the sister place–less fancy, but pet-friendly, she said. Great. Except when we checked in at the less fancy place, the front desk clerk must have pressed a silent button like you do when you are being robbed in a bank, because suddenly an evil manager was there pointing to my cowering dog and saying, “That dog isn’t staying here, and neither are you if the dog’s with you.”
“But the other resort called and said we were bringing the dog. It should be in the reservation notes,” I pointed out to the evil manager, smiling.
“Yeah, it’s in the notes, but see that?” he said, pointing to a sign on the wall that read, “NO PETS. NO EXCEPTIONS.”
“Well, I only booked here based on the other hotel’s recommendation,” I said, no longer smiling. “How was I supposed to know that?”
“No pets, okay?” the evil manager repeated.
“Look, your sister hotel said it was okay. It’s in the notes. The dog is 15 pounds and crate trained,” I said, now angry.
“Lemme make a call,” grumbled the evil manager. Whomever he spoke with apparently knew my perfect pup’s only vices were white wine and an occasional bummed cigarette, because she was allowed in.
“But she can’t be seen by anyone in the hotel, especially in the lobby,” he said as three young girls in line behind me giggled and pet Rouletta. “You can only let her do her business off the property in front by the highway. And we’ll tell you to leave if you take her on the beach or by the pool. Understand?”
Yes. Yes, sir.
“And we have to charge you for her, too.”
RG son hauled our bags upstairs while I went out front to walk Rouletta in the plot of weeds and parched earth the evil manager had so designated. Upset Waitress chose that moment to call and say she was leaving work, which also meant she was about to drive right past me and the dog. Sure enough, seconds later, I saw her hanging out the window, waving her arms, yelling, “Hey Restaurant Gal! See you in a few!” I waved and yelled back.
At the same moment, I noticed a sheriff’s car pull in to the hotel driveway. Ha! I probably knew him from my last visit. As I walked Rouletta back toward the hotel front door, the officer driving the sheriff’s car left his vehicle and began striding straight toward me. Geez, I was only kidding about knowing him.
“You staying in this hotel?” he asked, all business.
“Yes, I am,” I answered, all smiles.
“That dog staying here, too?” he asked, all ready for a fight.
“Yes, she is,” I said, still all smiles.
“No she’s not, ma’am. This is a no-pet hotel,” he said, clearly happy that he had what he assumed was an upper hand.
“Actually, the manager okayed her to stay here,” I said, still all smiles.
“Uh huh. Sure he did. Now why don’t you tell me how that came to pass, because no pets are allowed in here, ever.”
I started to stammer out my story, then paused. “Did they really call the sheriff because of my dog? Because I swear to God, every time I come to the Keys—-and this is only the second time—-I have to deal with a sheriff or a deputy.”
The officer softened a bit. “Really? I am sorry to hear that. Hope it wasn’t too bad last time.”
“Oh, well, it wasn’t me who was in trouble. Some drunk guy smashed into my parked car. Then he ran off and hid in a mangrove swamp. Then I had to go along with the other officers and help ID him when they hauled him out of the swamp near the third trailer park down the way here. It was kind of a big deal when it happened. I even got a case number, which almost made me feel like a local, you know? Maybe you heard about it?”
“Uh, no. No I didn’t,” he said, a little taken aback and the fight all but gone out of him. “But, uh, I gotta talk to the manager to make sure what you’re saying about the dog is true.”
“Of course!” I smiled.
Of course my story was confirmed. Of course I took every opportunity to walk my dog right through that lobby multiple times later. Of course the other hotel guests stopped to pet my perfect pup, because we were right there in the lobby.
Later Friday night-—Dinner with Upset Waitress’s son and husband, RG Son and another friend. “The food here sucks,” said UW, but we were really there for the view. The food did suck, but we didn’t care, because despite only having met one time before, I felt quite at home and among good friends. And for more than half a second I allowed myself to conjure the fantasy that I would move here with my book contract in hand and work with UW slinging hash browns and eggs in the mornings and writing, writing, writing the rest of the time.
“We have lived seven days in two,” I remarked to RG Son as we left the Keys early the next morning.
“We really did,” RG Son laughed. “But it was really fun.”
He’d met the cast of characters at the beach bar, complete with boy drama. He’d danced the night away with us girls after the drama, he’d snorkeled, he’d defied the law with me, and then he’d gotten to know UW and her fam. He’d watched me bum smokes, drink bad wine, swear like a sailor and be sad when it all had to end. He said something to UW about his mom being 17 again. But he laughed when he said it.
This is my kid who gets my chaos and still loves me, in spite of it.
Tonight–Double Monday after a late Sunday. I am beat, but the other manager thinks he is the one leaving work after the kitchen closes when guests are still in the house. Oh, I don’t think so, Mr. get here an hour and 15 minutes late after I worked all morning alone. No. No. No. He was furious when I walked out the door, and I frankly didn’t give a crap. I am done with his mopey attitude and his woe-is-me shit. You want woe? You want some more? Shut up, already.
After a glass of wine at my beach bar, where the boy was nowhere to be found, I felt calm. Until the storms came up and the drunk co-worker of another bar guest decided I should be his gal for the night. Um, forget it, pal. I left to go to my car just as a city cop pulled up the street. Given my inexplicable ability to attract law enforcement individuals, he pulled over to my side of the road and stopped me–a pedestrian–to ask, “Are you okay, Miss? I’ve seen you walking and walking all around here over the last half hour.”
“No I don’t think that was me,” I said, breathing my not-drunk-but-tired wine-breath on him, except how would he know that. “I just left there (duh, way to go, pointing to a bar). I’m fine.”
“Okay, just want to make sure,” he said, unsure and then driving up and down the block a few more times to make sure. Shit.
I called on of the regulars who had just left and begged him to come back so I could sit and drink water until I was sure the officer was gone.
“Oh, he was probably hitting on you,” he laughed. “No problem, I’m already back there. I wanted to walk you to your car anyway.”
Thus, my chaos and I sat longer than I ever wanted to at my beach bar that I had no interest in closing on this night. I nursed a huge glass of water and marveled at the uncanny stupidity of how this Monday night was winding down.
I got home just fine, it was just an hour later than I had intended.
As much as I embrace my chaos–the never-a-dull-moment, what’s-next nature of it, I am thinking maybe my chaos could just give it a rest for a few days. Or a week. Or more. That would be damn fine, too.