The Keys Part 2

Day 4 – Miami

I want to put as much distance between myself and the boat from hell, so Jessie and I drive to Miami for the day. We check out a street art museum, eat some Peruvian food and swing by the Versace Mansion. I ask Jessie to take my photo in front of it. I send the photo to my friends, expecting responses like, “Omg JEALOUS!” Or: “YESSS fashionista, Of COURSE you went there!”

What I get instead is: “Are you wearing your umbrella hat?”

I am not.

We spend the rest of the day on South Beach. It is stunning, until a man in a speedo sits directly in front of us—back to the ocean, chest towards us—and opens his legs so we’re staring straight down the barrel of his dick.

A club promoter stops by the girls sitting next to us. They are blonde and beautiful and coating their bodies in baby oil. He asks if they’d be interested in coming to his club tonight—free of charge, of course. They mull it over. Jessie and I sit up a bit straighter, adjusting our Adventure Hats and rash guards, ready to be propositioned in kind.

He ignores us.

The only people who stop by our spot the rest of the day are:

A man selling weed

A man who yells at us for touching the umbrella we were supposed to have paid for

Day 5 – Bahia Honda and Key West

We drive down to Key West where we will spend the last few days of our trip. We stop at Bahia Honda State Park along the way to see the old railroad track, swim and scare children.

Me swimming. Jessie looked up from her book and said it “looked like Senator Palpatine was in the water.”

We spend the night checking out spots recommended by our AirBnB host. One is a promising bar with live music. We sit next a wholesome young man who respects our personal space. He’s cute and charming and allegedly in the Coast Guard, a statement I take as fact simply because he is wearing an old braided leather belt. He invites us on his boat the next day, but I decline, citing my recent exorcism on the water.

A man in a pair of novelty disguise glasses (like the ones below, but with a penis for the nose) leans over the fence to inquire after marital status. It’s time to leave.

On our walk home, a middle-aged white woman yells at me for wearing a mask. She is wearing a Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville t-shirt and I am aghast. I spin around to scream at her, but she is gone, swept up in the sea of her idiot friends.

I fume the rest of the walk home. How could this woman be so ignorant and rude? I’m wearing a mask because I’m scared of getting sick and absolutely terrified of getting someone else sick. I’m doing it for all of us, asshole.

My blood is boiling as I write this. I hate this woman—and Jimmy Buffet—to this day.

Day 6 – Key West

Today is our big sightseeing day. We start by tracking down the best scones in Key West. I manage to get the last one in the case and what a rush it was. We then tour the old lighthouse and keeper’s quarters because I am going through a lighthouse phase.

Next up is the Hemingway House, which is without a doubt my favorite part of this trip. I am not a Hemingway fan but his house is beautiful and his cats are a plenty. We learn a lot about his life and walk away with a fresh, full understanding of just how much of a dick he was.

After a ghost tour (terrible – do not recommend) we wind down at a bar near our AirBnB. Someone sits next to me and orders a Fernet and Coke. I whirl around to see who this monster is, only to come face to face with an incredibly handsome man.

We get to talking. He is a local jet ski tour guide, originally from Mexico City. He orders a bowl of clams and I watch him methodically remove every single clam from its shell before eating a single one. I am blown away by this man and very much regret not getting his number.

His friend walks in and sits next to Jessie. He, too, is hot. They get to chatting and it is later revealed that he never says “sorry” because, as a parasail instructor, “sorry” means something has gone very wrong.

The more he speaks, the more I am certain he would be a selfish lover.

We leave the bar when I realize I am drunk.

Day 7 – Key West

Morning comes and I am hungover. Unfortunately, it is our big paddle board day. I ask for a few more minutes of rest, so Jessie goes out in search of coffee and pastries.

Hours later, we’re paddling through the mangroves, dodging tiny crabs that look like enormous spiders. It is 200 degrees and sunny. It is no place for a hangover.

As we make our way back in, Jessie yelps.

“What?” I ask

“Nothing,” she says.

Moments pass.

“I just saw a nurse shark,” she says. “But I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d scream and fall off your board.”

She knows me too well.

At night, we go to the sunset celebration at Mallory Square. On our walk there, a man jumps out of the bushes and yells, “WELCOME TO MALLORY SCARE!”

We both scream. I go down, diving for Jessie’s knees in an attempt to use her body as a shield.

It is a test of humanity and I have failed.

Sunset from Mallory Square

Day 8 – Key West

We wake up and get one last scone before Jessie drives me to the airport. I do not pack my snorkel gear. I tell Jessie I’m prepared to throw it away, that I never want to see it again. She takes my gear for herself.

Jessie has a few hours to kill before her own flight, so she goes trolling for wildlife with the fancy bird-watching binoculars she got for her birthday.

In typing the above sentence, I have made peace with being slighted by the Miami club promoter.

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