Sloop John B

Many years ago, when today’s reality was never thought of, I attended every single one of RG Daughter’s and RG Son’s elementary school holiday concerts. I’d like to say it was a beautiful experience, one to which I looked forward every year. But if I said that, I’d be lying. Horribly.

If I’d lived in the Keys then, I’d simply have attended these annual holiday concerts four rums in. And in plenty of company. As it was, I was a Bethesda, Md., housewife at the time, and as such, I never drank until 5 p.m. That we all drank after 5 p.m. wasn’t so much the point. How much we drank after 5 p.m., well…it was only wine, after all.

The first year, I smiled and nodded through the songs about snowflakes and frosty winters, which, even then, I abhorred and dreaded–the weather, not the songs. But one song stood out among all the other weather-report-style-never-mention-a-religious-holiday tunes as incredibly misplaced. You guessed it, the Beach Boys classic “Sloop John B.”

But you likely would not have guessed that song had I not titled this post accordingly, right? Right. Because who in their right mind forces skinny, awkward 7- and 9-year-old innocent elementary school children to belt out such lyrics as, “Around Nassau town we did roam, Drinking all night, Got into a fight…” in celebration of anything–much less carefully not-mentioned Christmas and Hannuka? And not just once. I’m talking year after year after year the worst-ever music teacher made those kids sing that little ditty at the family holiday concert.

By the fourth year of this Golden Oldie sing-along fest, I bit my lip so as not to laugh as the very serious, very earnest angels–mine included–sang perfectly articulated and on key, “The first mate he got drunk, And broke into the captn’s trunk. The constable had to come and take him away….Why don’t they let me go home? This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.” Indeed my precious ones. Let ME go home, too.

I heard that song five nights ago at work on the Pandora mix I play at my bar through my phone on the awesome Bose dock my former boss gave me as a Christmas bonus. No one else was listening, however. They were too busy drinking and talking. I, on the other hand, prior to coming to work, had just lived through one of the worst days of my so-called new life, hiding in my bedroom with a pillow over my head so I couldn’t hear the sounds of my great guy moving his stuff out of our apartment and into a U-haul trailer attached to his truck–destination anywhere but the Keys.

Living in the Keys–and I don’t mean Key West, I mean the rest of the hundred miles of coral rock entities–has a funny effect on people. One of the most insightful comments to recently appear on the RG site (thank you, Yono Senada) perfectly captured this world in which I live: “I lived in Islamorada for 7 years in in 1990’s. I can tell you the average home buyer stays an average of 5 years before they put their home up for sale. Men usually love it, as all they want to do is fish and drink, but women go batty with boredom or become alcoholics following their mates’ routines. You need time “off the rock” on a regular basis to keep your sanity. When we moved from the Keys it took me years to be able to sit through a Jimmy Buffet song. Paradise is relative.”

Put another way: “Around Nassau town we did roam, Drinking all night…” ‘Till one of us lost our sober minds for good, I guess.

Put in a way that makes me scratch my head in the ultimate gesture of perplexity: Wait, I’m the one who melts down twice a month and screams, “I can’t do the booze-is-my-life and nonstop work one more second. Not one more!” I guess my great guy didn’t hear me. I guess he reached that Keys breaking point, defying the odds as a Keys guy, all on his own. And, in his ultimate act of desperation–a desperation I know very, very well–he saw no way out other than to ditch me along with the Keys.

Hell, I ditched him twice a month in my mind like clockwork. With few to no days off and pouring one too many well vodkas to those who disgust me as much as delight me, I was a goner more than I was a girlfriend. Way more.

So as much as friends and family abhor what my great guy did in an effort to save himself in a way in which the captain doesn’t go down with the ship, I totally get it. Respect it. Applaud it.

“Let me go home,let me go home. I wanna go home, let me go home. Why don’t you let me go home?”

We all make our choices. We all imagine how it might be to live a dream in a paradise that cures all our ills and frees us from the drudgery of a reality in which we think we can’t live. Sometimes we act on it and live our vision of paradise as a dream from which we never want to wake.

In this gal’s world, however, “I wanna go home. Why don’t they let me go home?” If the past few days represent my next reality, it could well be with my great guy very far off the rock. He says he wants it to be. Or, it could be a giant question mark that represents what seems like the next best reality.

I’ve about given up on finding a happy and true home. I just wanna go home. Any home. A second-best home in a job I am woefully under-qualified to do is fine. And if that doesn’t work out, well, there we are. Home is where what’s left of my heart is. And I refuse to let that heart break.






17 responses to “Sloop John B”

  1. Connie Avatar

    So, I am confused. Are you running away with him or staying in the Keys?

  2. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Now I’m going to have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day…

    Sounds like you’re putting a plan together, RG

  3. Sheppitsgal Avatar

    Hi RG. Just to say, if he is indeed a ‘great guy’ – run, run to him, NOW. There ain’t many of ’em around.

    Good luck xx

  4. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Connie–Not sure just yet.

    Kim–Yeah, sorry about the song you will NEVER get out of your head for at least a week. ๐Ÿ™‚ Plan A is a maybe. Plan B is lurking as a possibly. Plan C–don’t have one yet.

    Sheppitsgal–I hear you.

  5. savannah Avatar

    when our boys were little they thought their daddy had written that song for them! somehow, it wasn’t until they were teens before they realized differently. i guess living out of the country did affect them. (i hope that made you laugh.)

    take care, sugar. i’ll be thinking of you and hoping for the best. xoxoxo

  6. Jenny J. Avatar

    Oh, RG! This post makes me want to cry and give you a big humongous hug! I know I don’t comment often, but I read everything you write. Keep your chin up, we’re all rooting for you!

  7. kgrrrl Avatar

    Sounds like it’s time for you to get back to real life… the Keys sounds like a place that is better for those who prefer to stay out of reality.
    Sigh. I’m sorry to hear that he’s leaving. That’s hard.

  8. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Savannah–Too funny about the song. And thanks.

    Jenny J.–No tears from you; no tears from me. Chin is up and thank you much.

    kgrrrl–Yes, there is a reason a phrase exists about “falling into the Keys.” But, I wouldn’t take back any of it because I learned to serve and tend bar again and be pretty decent at it. And yes, hard that my great guy had to leave, but we are trying to piece together what can work for us. Neither of us wants to be apart, it turns out, but the Keys is no place for him, and I’ll just have to see what can happen for me elsewhere. Until then, still here.

  9. Berry Avatar

    I’ve followed your blog since your early Keys days. I’m a native Floridian and have visited the Keys sporatically all of my life. As a boy in the 60s I watched Cubans jump out of a rickety boat and wade ashore in Islamorada. People move to the Keys and then most of them eventually, inevitably move away after a few years. It’s not a forever kind of place. Unless you are rich enough to just winter there or are an affluent south Floridian who owns a weekend home there or you have a successful business then the Keys are a transient experience. Are you really surprised that 2 people in the restaurant/bar business have a difficult relationship, much less in the Keys? Not a lifestye that lends itself to stability. Seems if your guy was that great he would have toughed it out until the two of you could have gone together, but then there may be much I do not know. Hope that things work out well for you and that I get to keep enjoying your posts. You do seem to have a bit of talent as a writer.

  10. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Berry–All really good points. I guess I never viewed the Keys as inherently transient (believe it or not, that makes me feel a great deal better–as in, Oh, that’s why it’s time to go…), and so true about the weekenders and those snowbirds with money. They definitely have a best-of-both-worlds existence. This is a beautiful spot, with much to offer, but a difficult one in which to make a permanent home. A few points, however, I’d offer another side to… A relationship between two people in the biz is often easier, I think. You both understand the customer challenges, the ups and downs of $$, the schedules, etc. And yes, there is much you don’t know, but all that happened is making this crisis easier to handle and respond to, and showing both of us that the crisis was necessary, in a way, if the relationship is to mature beyond the Keys. As you know, rarely is one person the “bad guy” in a relationship or the cause of such a crisis. The two of us danced this dance hand-in-hand. Thanks very much for a great comment.

  11. joeinvegas Avatar

    Sorry RG – hope you find something someday

  12. Scott Avatar

    Anyone that longs for home the way you do should have it. I hope you find it, RG.

  13. Bob C Avatar
    Bob C

    This post literally made me cry. So accurate. Follow your great guy if your heart tells you he is worth it. The Keys are wonderful for a 2 week fantasy, but they are not home.

    I hope your home finds you and you find the comfort that you deserve.

  14. Lorraine Avatar

    RG, I hope that your heart and head find the same place and it’s a place you want to be.

    Whatever you do, don’t make the permanent place in Kansas…it’s cold here this time of year. lol Hugs to you luv.

  15. Julie Avatar

    RG — Home is a difficult place to find. Sometimes, it feels like I’ve been all over the US. Probably because I have. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I truly hope that you and your great guy figure out what to do next…. soon!

  16. Frances Avatar

    *hugs* I used to say “home is where the cat is”. In your case, that would be the dog. You’ll figure things out, I’m sure.

  17. Nicole Avatar

    Ouch. I’m glad I read through your replies to the comments already left. Go with your heart RG, I can understand getting to the end of the line and having to move that the great guy did. Glad that you both are apparently wanting to keep going. Take the jump and go ๐Ÿ™‚ from the sounds of it what have you got to lose by leaving the keys? Lots of hugs and good wishes from Australia xx