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July 22nd, 2005

Ft. Lauderdale Vacation - Day 1

I got up off the couch at 4:30, and "freshened up." I microwaved the English muffins I'd brought over, and packed them along with the hard-boiled egg I'd also brought along.

We left Joe's at about 5:20, and with virtually no traffic, we were parking by about 5:35. We were about fourth in line for a kiosk at the Southwest ticketing area, and checked in without incident.

At the gate, I ate my English muffins and hard-boiled egg, and Joe got a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel. We worked our way over to a seat in the "B" line for our flight. It still confounds me as to how not assigning seats saves this airline money.

There was one man in the "Pre-boarding" line, who had a neck brace on, which, in our opinion, hardly qualified for pre-boarding. He did make an effort to walk pitifully, though.

We watched two losers walk up in the A line, just as it was about to finish, and try to board with "B" and "C" tickets. Oblivious.

One of them was on her cell phone, and didn't stop talking at all as she was sent to the end of the C line.

We said, pointing at the one with a B ticket, "'B,' as in back to the end of the line." And then, "You with the 'C' ticket, 'C,' as in carry your ass to the back of the line.



On board, we did get two seats together, and took them in an exit row. The flight attendant wanted to make sure we understood the role we were undertaking, and demanded that we read the instructions for opening the door. "We're on the 300 model plane, so be sure to read those." Her demeanor was a little bit like that of a prison guard.

We looked at the pictures, which indicated what to do. Of course it included a "politically correct" cast of characters doing the acts we were expected to do. The first few steps were being carried out by an African-American man with long black hair. The next sequence of steps showed a white woman, with a fuchsia blouse, and golden hair. There was also a white man in a blue suit at one point, and an Asian-American lady showing us how to huddle with our seat cushion as a flotation device.

Joe and I started acting out how we would direct things when the emergency came. "Uh, no ma'am, not yet, we need the African-American man with the long hair first. Okay, he's through. Now you, yes you in the fuchsia blouse. Okay, it's time for the man in the blue suit. Sir, when you get to the bottom of the slide, you run away from the plane. Oh Fing-yu, no, no, no. Go back and get your flotation device!" We cracked ourselves up.

That Fing-yu one got me going into hysterics. I could not stop laughing. The way Joe said it. Shaking his head back and forth, "Fing-yu, no, go back now." LOL

We almost ended up with no one sitting in the seat next to us, but at the last minute, the woman on the cell phone who had tried to board with the "A" line, and got sent back to the end of the "C" line, took the aisle seat.

She said yes when the warden asked her if she'd be willing to help out in case of an emergency. Then, turning her seat belt buckle various ways said to herself, "How do you buckle this thing? I can't figure it out."

"Shhhh!" I said. You just agreed to help all these people in an emergency! It's not going to do anything for their confidence hearing that you can't buckle your own seat belt." We all had a good laugh over that.

Shortly after that, she took off her light denim jacket, and placed it over her head, facing her. So, it was sort of like having a veil on, only backwards. We never heard another peep out of her.

There was a couple sitting across the aisle from us -- a man in the aisle seat, the woman of the couple in the middle and the man of the couple in the window seat. This couple proceeded to act like teenagers the entire way. They were all over each other. She bent over and laid her head on his lap. He rubbed her back. She rubbed legs. The man kept a pillow in his crotch the whole way.

They reminded me of that couple on the dance floor in Wilmington a couple of weeks ago. I'm thinking there was some mile-high club activity going on there. Get a room.

In the row behind them was a woman in the middle seat, and presumably, her daughter in the window seat. They had a portable DVD player, and were listening to a DVD with the volume so high that we could hear it on the other side of the plane, while flying in all that "air noise." And it was one of those stupid movies with a lot of noises like, what I think of as, "sproing noises" and such, used in cartoons. Very annoying. Clueless. Totally inconsiderate.

When the flight attendants came through with the drinks, the warden one said to them, "If anyone around you is bothered, you're going to have to turn that down." They took the hint, and did. In fact, I think they turned it completely off.

When the kissing couple got up out of their seats to deplane, Joe and I both checked to see if the man had a boner. Men are pigs.



We had about an hour-and-a-half layover in Orlando, and started it off with a "plug hunt." We found one, but it didn't work. We tried another; same thing. We then found two plugs in one of those sit-down phone booths, but then saw one along another wall near a table and chairs associated with a food place. We tried that one, and it worked, and we "set up camp" there.

Joe took a walk while I caught up my journal, and returned to report that he had tried to buy some gum and the USA Today at the snack shop, but had to settle on mints and the paper.

He said to the clerk while checking out, "Did I just miss the gum?"

"Oh, we're not allowed to sell gum in the airport," she said.

Lord, has there been some terrorist act involving gum about which we haven't heard?

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because people just throw it on the floor, and it sticks to the carpeting."



We boarded the Orlando to Ft. Lauderdale flight, and had no problem getting two seats together as we were in the "A" line for this flight. Shortly after we took the the window and middle seat of an aisle, "Henrietta" joined our row in the aisle seat.

Her name wasn't really Henrietta, and we didn't think of her as that at the time, but by the end of the flight, that's who she had become. She was a child of a woman, in size, measuring 4'10" or 4'11" at the most, I'd say. And older, maybe 60, 65, something like that.

Toward the end of the line of people boarding, a guy came on board with a screwdriver in his hand -- some kind of mechanic -- never a good sign. The flight ended up being delayed about an hour.

Some kind of de-icer gizmo wasn't working, and even thought it was about 100 degrees outside, it had to be fixed before we could take off. And, whatever it was that needed the actual fixing, couldn't be fixed without the air conditioning on the plane turned off. It quickly turned into an oven in there, and Henrietta got a little antsy.

It got fixed, and the air turned back on just before the point where we could hardly take it any more. They had mentioned possibly having to de-plane if it got too hot, and though we were hot, I think everyone was relieved that we didn't have to go through that drama.

Henrietta kept yammering, saying something about the Jewish man sitting one seat up from us and to the right being a rabbi, and that being good in case something happened. I'm not really sure he was a rabbi, but he did have one of those long gray and black curly beards that fit the stereotype.

I decided to work on a crossword puzzle to give Henrietta the hint that I was done with her, so I took it out, and turned a little to face Joe, saying, "Help me with this puzzle."

Henrietta said, "I'll help you with that."

I turned back toward her, and just laughed letting her know that she had to be kidding.

We worked on the puzzle for a while, and pretty much got down to about the last 10 or 15 that we couldn't figure out. She tapped my arm, "Let me see if I can help you."

She gave some ridiculous suggestions, such as, "Oh vey" for a four-word answer with a clue that didn't even indicate the answer had two words in it. I thought I misunderstood her, because I knew she wasn't suggesting a five-letter answer for a four-letter slot, and I said, "What was that?"

She said, "Oh, vey," it's a Jewish expression. I wanted to respond, "Here's another Jewish word meaning what someone who asserts themselves into other people's business has: 'Chutzpah.'"

Next, for the clue, "ATM's lack," a four-letter answer of which we already had _NI_, she says, "How about 'echo' for that?"

"Echo?" I ask. "How do you figure that?"

"Well," she said, "You can see them but you can't hear them." Some such nonsensical response as that.

I just said, "Oooh-kaaay," and then, "I'm done with this puzzle; what's left is too hard now."

Truth be told, I was done with Henrietta. Really done.



Upon touchdown in Ft. Lauderdale, we went down to the baggage claim area, where Joe waited for our bags while I went to get the car we'd reserved from Dollar. A cute guy helped me, and after pulling up my reservation, he said, "Do you still want a compact?"

"Yes," I said.

"Uh-oh," he said scanning the screen. "It looks like we're out of them; I'm going to have to upgrade you." When he went to process the upgrade, he accidentally deleted my reservation. He said, "I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask you for your information again."

We went through that, and then he said, "Oh yes, this is going to be an upgrade, a big upgrade."

I said, jokingly, "Well, you might as well go ahead and make it a convertible then."

He looked up and smiled at me, and said, "It is."


I called Joe, and after us both squealing, I drove around and picked him up at baggage claim in our Navy Blue Sebring convertible with the black roof. Stylin'.



We found the Cheston House without incident, as it was very close to where I stayed the one night I spent in Ft. Lauderdale last year when visiting Jeanie-baby. We rang the buzzer at the gate, and "Bill" came and let us in.

We had a lot of drama checking in, in terms of charging us for our rooms. Bill didn't realize that we had separate rooms, and at first charged us each half for one room. Then he said, "How many keys would you like, two?"

I looked at him, confused, and said, "Well, we only each need one for each of our rooms."

"Oh, you each have a room?"

More charges all around, and in the end, we had little confidence that it was done correctly. We would check the receipts later.



I had a suite, and Joe had a regular room. They were both big rooms, with my room having somewhat of a kitchen area/hall, and a separate sitting room.

We asked for a lunch recommendation, within walking distance, and Bill pointed us to the Casablanca Cafe, "up about four blocks, at the corner of Sebastian Street," which is also where the "gay beach" is. The term "gay beach" always makes me smile. Beaches are not sexual beings, so how can they have a sexual orientation?"

I had a lobster sandwich, and Joe had a sweet and sour chicken salad. At first we ordered water, but then heard at least two people come in asking about the "2-for-1" special.

Our waitress came back, and I said, "Do you have a drink special today?"

She shook her head, and said "No."

"You don't," I said, rather surprised. "What are people talking about when they ask about the 2-for-1 special, then?"

"Oh, that. That's if you each buy a drink, and one entree, then the other entree is free."

Hello. 1) Isn't that a drink special? 2) Maybe you should have mentioned this to us.

I guess technically it must be an "entree special," and not a drink special, though drinks do seem to be in the equation. Don't let me have to resort to mathematics again to try and explain this.

Finally, she said, "Would you like that?"

"Why not," we said, and each ordered a Corona.

After she left, and I thought about it, I said to Joe, "Okay, my lobster sandwich was ten dollars. If these drinks are $5.00 a piece, it will be like we got two drinks free instead of an entree free."

When the bill came the Coronas were itemized. $5.00 a piece. So much for an "entree special."



Back at the room, we took a desperately needed nap, and woke up for happy hour, which started at 5:00, and was "signaled" by the ringing of what sounded like a cow bell. We had some bourbon and diets, and I think, eventually, Joe realized they had beer, and had one of those.

Toward the end of happy hour, we sat at the computer in the office, and printed off some directions to various bars. Then we decided to take a ride out to see where they were, so when we went out later, we wouldn't be driving around trying to find them.

When we found Manhattan South, the country and western bar, we noticed a little (New York) pizza place right next to it, and got some killer stromboli there. I ate half of mine, and wrapped up the rest.

We found a couple of the other bars -- Georgies's Alibi, and the Ramrod, and then headed back to the room to get ready to go out.

We got back to Manhattan South between 9:30 and 10:00. They had had lessons starting at 8:00, and they were well over by the time we got there.

Eventually we met a guy named Joey, who was one of those people who looked good across the room, but as he drew near, not so much.

He was interested in Joe, but it was not mutual. He danced a couple of two-steps with me as a follow, and then we did one shadow dance with him as the lead. He wasn't the greatest two-stepper, but did a decent job as the lead shadow dancing.

I did a couple of line dances -- the Mambo Shuffle and the Watermelon Crawl.

We left there at about midnight, and went to the Ramrod, where it was totally jam packed. We were both pretty exhausted by this time, and Joey took one more, unsuccessful, stab at Joe.

They had a patio area, which was packed, but so damn hot (and not in a good way), so we walked through it, and back into the bar.

We left there in, probably, less than an hour.



Back at the guest house, the drama began. When we got back, there were several people in the pool, all naked, and all very, very drunk. One guy in particular, Rick, who just started working there four days ago was about as shit-faced as shit-faced can get.

He was in the pool with a bottle of wine, saying, "If Bill (the manager) knew I had a bottle at this pool, he'd go nuts." He got out of the pool, and then dove in, saying, "There's no diving into this pool." Later, naked, he walked up to the second floor, and yelled from up there, "You can't be naked on the second floor." Who thinks this joker is going to be working here for more than a couple of weeks."

Later in the evening, probably at around 2:30 or 3:00, he went banging on one of the guest's door that he wanted to come out to the pool.

His partner in crime was a guy named Todd, who was also tragically drunk, and at some point he was sucking his dick on the side of the pool. Then, this huge guy, and I mean huge, started faux (hopefully) fucking this other guy in the water. Joe and I looked at each other like, "Oh, this is starting to look like a very, very bad porn movie."

The night pretty much deteriorated from there. Eventually, they all started harassing us about not being naked in the pool when everyone else was, the huge guy came over and wanted to see my ass, and Todd's drunk ass came next to me, and started yanking on my bathing suit.

"Please leave my suit alone," I said, and he knew I meant it, and did leave it alone.

"Oh, they're from North Kack-a-lack-ee. They're conservative up there. What's wrong with taking your suit off?" They went on and on.

"What's wrong with leaving it on?" I asked.

"Nothing," Todd said.

"All right, then," I ended it.

It would never occur to these people that someone might not want to be naked in the pool with them because they were afraid of them or grossed out by them.

I went to bed after about an hour of that drama. Welcome to Ft. Lauderdale.

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