I do not feed stray cats, especially in the Keys. Billions of them lurk around every corner, and someone (many someones) is always putting food and water out for them. They amble between tables at all the bars and restaurants, they wander neighborhood streets like they own it all, and they sprawl across sidewalks daring anyone to urge them to move aside.
Don’t misunderstand, in general, I like cats. I only owned cats back in the day. But now I have Rouletta the pup, and frankly, Keys cats are kind of scary in all their bravado. In a word, I am over cats.
I do not want to “date” these days. But suddenly, there they are, lurking around every bar stool at work or re-connecting after hearing how the latest boy ditched me. They are seemingly sweet and genuine, like they all seem at first, and they almost dare me to accept an invitation for a day on a boat or drinks or dinner.
Don’t misunderstand, I am flattered. But this last one did me in, because I only followed his lead and never forced the issue about “a relationship.” Of course, in the Keys–at least for this gal–relationships pretty much consist of drinking lunch and smoking too many cigarettes. In a word, I am very much over dating.
“You will go out with them,” said my bartender girlfriend from Fort Lauderdale. “You will give the ones that you say bore you a second chance, and you will quit falling for the unavailable types.”
“No really. You never know. Another girlfriend of mine went through everything you have with men. And finally, finally, she allowed herself to like a ‘normal’ mature man. She is head over heels!”
“Don’t you dare humor me,” she laughed. “Please, give some of these guys at least a chance. You gotta stay out there and try to have fun. And I swear, you just don’t know!”
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I was worried I had made a mistake by quitting the dive, money being as tight as it is living the dream here in paradise. And I’ve never just walked out at the end of a shift and waved goodbye. But suddenly I have almost five full shifts at the local bar, my loyal daytime customers are back in full force, and all is looking pretty good for me there.
Sometimes, if you just wait a minute, you end up feeding a sad, scrawny kitten who wandered into your driveway. You smile and say you’d love to go out sometime soon to one and promise to go fishing on Sunday with another. You try your best to accept a kind compliment from a customer who says, “We love having you here, you know.”
You do your best to put the negative crap behind you as you vow to travel more than a few steps on this very unfamiliar road of giving everyone and everything a first and second chance.