It didn't dawn on me until after he said something else about correcting himself that I had on my Grammar Police t-shirt. He was a fun driver, and he had a sister who was a technical writer, so that made for interesting conversation.
With the amount of time we'd factored into our arrival, we thought we'd have time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and access the Internet at the airport, as the Key West airport is tiny, tiny. Note to self: When push comes to shove, tiny doesn't mean efficient.
Our flight to Orlando was to depart at 11:40, but ended up being "officially" delayed until noon. In spite of that, we were still rushed through our breakfast, and barely had time to connect to the Internet, before having to proceed to our gate.
The lady coaxing us through the x-ray machine said, "I love your shirt. Do you find people talking very carefully around you with that on?"
"Actually, most people are afraid to talk around me when I have on this shirt," I replied, and we both chuckled.
One of the last ticket agents we saw turned out to be—none other than—the guy I two-stepped with at Cowboy Bill's on Tuesday!
As it turned out, we didn't start taxiing away from the gate until 12:20.
As we exited the plane in Orlando, this hefty, gray-haired woman with one of those reflective vests on that looked like she might flag the planes in with those lights in each hand out on the tarmac, yelled across to me, pointing at my shirt, "You're going to be very busy here in Florida."
As we continued to baggage claim, I heard another lady walking in the opposite direction to me say to her companion, "That shirt is so great. I've got to have one of them."
We had a $35 cab ride with a cab driver who neither had a personality, nor spoke. Sure made the tipping decision easy.
We arrived at the much-touted Parliament House, at which from check-in we experienced culture shock. Thank god we'd only planned one night in the place.
We were checked in by a manager of the place, who couldn't find our reservation, wasn't friendly, and didn't smile. So much for leadership by example.
Our room was marginally clean, there was no thermostat in the room—evidently it's all controlled centrally—and not well at that, if the tissues that were stuffed all along each side of the vent were any indication. Only god knows if those tissues were new or used.
I am not at all into decorating and fabric and all that, and I only know about thread-count numbers from my friends, but I can recognize a towel that is typically used for drying your car from one that is used to dry your body. These things were barely three-feet long, had pulls in them, and were threadbare.
We kept telling ourselves, "We've got to adjust our expectations. This is not the Island House. It's only $72 a night, not $260."
We meandered over to the bar to do just that—adjust our attitudes. We found about six people sitting at the bar at Happy Hour, for which we'd waited until 4:00 to go.
While Joe ordered our drinks, I went and took a stool at the other end of the bar, as we wanted to be far enough away from the others to "assess the situation." From there, I saw the absolutely incredible girth of the woman bartender who was serving Joe. The woman was just large—400 pounds if one. Eventually, Joe wondered, "How does she even wipe her ass?" It just hung so far over on each side of the chair she was sitting on.
Before Joe could get over to me with my drink, the man sitting to the right, and up, from where I was evidently didn't get that Joe was bringing my drink, said, "You're going to have to go back over there and get your drink; she can't walk," indicating the bartender.
We basically drank until the other bar in the place opened at 6:00, as it had a pool table in it, and we wanted to do that. And we did.
There was a juke box in that bar, that had some good music in it and a very cool interface to it (in terms of searching and selecting songs), but it "played games with your money," which pisses me off to no end.
The "games" were like this one: It gave you the impression you had 5 songs to select once you put in a certain amount of money, but when you went to select the third song that wouldn't take, you noticed a little indicator out to the right (that was evidently there for the two songs you'd already selected, too, but of course you hadn't noticed because everything went smoothly) that said, "This song counts as 2 plays."
Only then do you notice that the two you've selected already have used up 4 plays, and you only get one more. Problem is, there's no song that counts as only "one play," at least that you can tell, and there's no search option like, "Show me all songs that count as one play."
So now, you have the option of feeding them more dollars, which of course is exactly what they want you to do. The only other option is to use up the "one play" you have left to "push your selections to the top of the queue" of what the juke box itself already had in its queue to play randomly until someone paid for some music. You also have no idea how far down your songs actually are in the queue; hence no idea if pushing that button really does anything at all.
As I said: Games.
At about 7:45, we went back into the "entertainment complex," which is where the first bar was, where there were actually three bars, a dance floor complete with a stage, and a restaurant.
Joe and I were sitting near one of the bars, beside which there were some high tables with stools, and a podium in the middle of them. Joe and I were at one of those tables, and there was another, young, couple sitting at one of the others.
This dancer came out with a thong on and stood on the podium and starting dancing. He really was nothing to look at, and I hate those type of things anyway, as these dancers are usually the type that wouldn't give me the time of day if there wasn't a chance that I'd be putting a dollar in one of their crevices. Bitter? Party of one? Your table is ready.
I turned my back to the podium, so that I was actually looking into the other room where the dance floor was (though no one was on it at this early hour), and right after that, that other young couple got up and walked out of that area. About two minutes later, we walked out. That left no one in the area of the dancer. Pitiful.
Just before 8:00, I ran back to my room to change my shirt, and upon exiting the complex, the guy at the door said, "You need to get a card from the bartender that says you've already been in here drinking, so we won't have to charge you when you return."
Upon my return, they put a wristband on me to indicate that I was of age and that I'd "paid" to get in.
Shortly after 8:00, we decided to go back to the other bar to see what was going on over there, and before Joe went out, they said the same thing to him.
When we got back to the bar to get the card, the bartender now there said, "Vinny (or Eddy or Davie, or whomever) had just left, and he took the cards with him."
Annoyed, and back at the exit, we related that information and Joe added, "Here's my room key; I'm staying here. Isn't that enough?"
"We have nothing to do with the Parliament House. We're just the entertainment complex here, and we're operated totally separately. Go across there to the office, and tell them you need a card." Drama.
After dealing with the office to get a wristband, and getting back to the other bar, the pool table was taken so we hung out to see if it would come open.
After a while in this area, I introduced myself to this guy named Allen, and then introduced him to Joe. His handshake was not as firm as it should have been.
He turned out to be somewhat of a ditz, not to mention a lush. After our introductions, and about 10 minutes of that idle first-meeting-people chit-chat, he suddenly stuck out his hand to me, and said, "Hi. I'm Allen, by the way."
Joe and I just looked at each other as if to say, "Is this a joke?" and sensing that it wasn't, we all re-introduced ourselves. Bizarre.
Turns out, he went to work for Disney one day, and 21 years later, he still does. (His way of describing it.)
"Oh, are you a Senior Imagineer or something like that?" I asked.
And he replied, "No, I'm a cast member."
I had heard about the title of "Imagineer" before at Disney, but I didn't know that "cast member" is just what they call Disney employees in general.
Wanting to find out what it meant, I asked him, "So what's a typical day like for you? For instance, what's on your schedule for tomorrow?"
"Well, I work in the customer relations office for the Disney Cruise Line, and I am going to give a woman, who is currently out to sea on one of our cruises, a $210 cabin credit for something that she is unhappy about."
It was Latin Night at the entertainment complex, and as the night progressed, I watched a very mixed crowd come in. By mixed, I mean straight and gay. There were a lot of heavy, straight, women there. Hey, I resemble that remark.
A drag show was supposed to start at midnight, but when 12:05 came and went, 12:10 came and went, and then 12:20 came and went, I went out the door and into my bed.
It is totally beyond me what people see in this place. In the inimitable words of Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest: <-- Click it to hear Bette's classic line.