Sunday: So here I am on Key Largo. About as far from Bogart and cigarettes and shots of straight whiskey as you could imagine. Well, it's too early for that anyhow. In a generic Holiday Inn, though I think it's actually called something else. A Home2. Perhaps a distant relative of R2D2. All plastic and pastel.
Coffee that has heat and caffeine but naught else. The cardboard insulator that protects me from the cardboard cup is stamped RYKOFF SEXTON PERUVIAN COFFEE but really, how can you know? I bet they could sneak in some Uruguayan if it was cheaper. So we're just about done with the eight-lane thruway plunge, and into the more interesting crawl down A1A. The morning fog is burning off, not quite 7:30.
I had a stomach upset for about half the night, but it's okay now.
Of course a family full of shouting, running munchkins just invaded. I moved out into the noise and fog. And birds -- doves hooting and crows cawing. Tweeters tweeting. And three feet underground, a nameless thing shifts its gelatin-smirched wings, readying itself for birth and death. Come. Come feast on the children.
Another ordinary day inside the head of Joe Haldeman, aka Robert Graham, hack writer and plagiarist. (That was on F. Scott Fitzgerald's business card.)
So we'll point the car's nose south and head in the direction of lunch. Used to be a nice drive down a two-lane road with ocean on both sides. Now it's four lanes, sometimes six or eight, from which you can sometimes see the sea.
But we should be off on a pleasant side road. It looks good in my mind's eye. We'll see what the more mundane optic detects.
Went out last night to watch their son play, with his wife, in a beachside bar. That's been our custom for some years, decades now. We always head for the Keys in February, for the dark skies and warm clear air of the Winter Star Party.
We'll be doing some registration work later, but for a few days we'll just enjoy the weather and the sky in the land of Jimmy, not Warren, Buffett.
Still on the mainland, until about noon. Then we head down A1A, deep blue ocean on both sides of the road, to an island that sprouts telescopes this time of year. The Winter Star Party, where tanned bathing beauties stare at the pale white skin of astronomers who keep vampires' hours.
[Here insert twenty minutes of fussing around with the iPhone. The battery ran down and I can't find the proper adaptor to plug it into the wall. I have four other adaptors, but they don't speak the same voltage/wattage/ohmage. So I have to go to Best Buy and pay ohmage before I can post the picture.]
Because my scanner is also down.
Another little karmic quirk -- they're demolishing the massage school building and putting up a new one, someday. Colleen is looking for a new studio place.
Meanwhile I'm reduced to stopping girls on the street and asking them to take off their clothes. My success rate so far has been low.
(This was actually a parlor joke my father used to tell at cocktail parties. A guy sits down on a park bench next to an attractive woman and asks her whether she would take off her clothes and make love to him. She slaps him and hustles off. So he goes down to the next park bench and tries again, with the same result. A bystander asks what is he trying to do? "Nineteen out of twenty girls react that way," he says. "But the twentieth says 'Sure!'")
Erotica, circa 1950.
It's a new way of having concerts that's becoming more and more popular in folk music here in the south. Some friends of Brandy and Christina's supplied the sound system, we rounded up some folding chairs, and Jack's wife Judy did the organizing, with a large display of Jack's CD's for sale. They sold a couple of dozen.
It's an interesting small segment of the entertainment industry, with individuals and families taking over the functions normally done by corporations.
Jack's voice was clear and good, but a bit road-fatigued. He's added a couple of old-new songs, fast loud ones from his rock-and-roll days. He found them on yellowed old sheet music from his misspent youth! The patter that went with the songs was vintage reminiscence, mostly about the sixties and seventies in rock and country, an eclectic mix.
They drove off into doubtful weather toward home. They’ve been away for months.
Not a life I would like. But I'm not really an entertainer. (I do get paid for entertaining people, but from behind a substantial barrier of intermediaries.)
Jsck and Judy spend months on the road every year, living out of a comfortable van. They like traveling and are enthusiastic birders. I think they've observed birds in all 50 states. With us in Alaska a few years ago.
Time to go back soon.
(I didn't know more than half of the people who dropped by to eat and drink, and my normally suspicious nature does make me wonder how many saw a loud open party and just walked in. Hey, look at all these hardback science fiction books. They've got so many, they won't mind if we borrow a couple . . . I've heard of this Jules Verne guy; here's a nice hardback with funny drawings . . . .)
Of possible historic interest: For the first time in more than a half century, the smoking area outside was not used. We haven't had smoking inside since my mother died, but the screened porch used to be a smokers' haven during parties. Less and less used over the years, and this year none of the ashtrays were besmirched. (I assume people smoking dope wandered farther into the yard.)
Another change, more regretted, is that I didn't set up a telescope outside. I'm still not up to lifting any of the large scopes, and I'm not quite foolish enough to set up the lightweight Questar unsupervised on a night when hundreds of strangers are wandering around. "Say, Jimmy," a rapscallion says while lifting the scope with one hand, "How much you think this thing might be worth?"
Lots of people brought covered dishes and bowls of goodies, and as usual we had a long night of noshing. Even after the New Years' Day gathering, with a couple of dozen munchers, we still have enough for another pretty large party.
I made my traditional bacon feast on New Years' morning. Gay was making an egg and sausage dish in the oven, so I stood and fried seven or eight pounds (eating perhaps a pound in the process). The guests did a yeoman job on the leftovers, but we still have bits and pieces jamming the refrigerator. They'll be gone before February, I hope. Not counting fruitcake.