We used the found time to slow down the packing pace, and enjoy a last breakfast at the poolside bar and restaurant. I had a "create your own" sausage this morning, and chose sausage and cheddar, with wheat as my toast choice. Delish.
We shared a van cab to the airport with two other guys who were leaving the Island House at the same time as us, and when we told the cabbie what airline we were on, he said, "Oh, I heard that flight's been delayed."
"Really?" Joe and I said. "We've just received e-mails in the last 30 minutes that still say it's on time."
We checked in, during which there was no mention of a delay, but we decided to not go through security yet as we still had plenty of time before our flight, and last year the area beyond security was a wreck. Also, we weren't sure if the free wireless access worked down there. There are six gates that aren't even really delineated in any way. Essentially, it's one big waiting area with six doors along the one wall that make up the "gates." The four airlines that had visibility out of that area this time were Delta, US Airways, Cape Air, and American.
At about 11:30, an announcement was made that due to the Miami airport being shut down for a couple of hours while severe storms passed through South Florida, our flight was being delayed to 2:00. Not ideal, but fortunately we had a long layover in Miami, with a 4:30 departure to Raleigh-Durham, so we weren't really worried about it. I mean wait here or wait there, what's the difference?
1:00 rolled around and with no update, Joe and I grabbed a quick lunch at the restaurant before going through security. There was a lot of dropping of things and knocking things over and just a general mad dash of the people working there, of which there obviously weren't enough. We enjoyed a rushed, somewhat stressed out lunch, as we couldn't hear the announcements going on just outside the restaurant.
Long story short, our 11:52 flight that was delayed until 2:00 ended up not departing until 4:05, and they couldn't guarantee that our 4:30 departure out of Miami to Raleigh was going to be delayed long enough for us to connect to it and there was only one flight to Raleigh after that one, and it had been canceled. Bottom line being that there was a good chance we were going to have to spend the night in Miami.
We quickly and easily decided that we'd rather spend another night in Key West than one in Miami, and we asked to have Joe's checked bag retrieved and we re-booked our flight back for tomorrow. The only flight they had available on Tuesday was out of Key West at 5:35, connecting in Miami, and arriving back in RDU at 10:35. We took it.
We called the Island House asking if they had any rooms available for one night, and although we said we'd take a cheaper one even if it meant one with just a double or queen bed in it, they offered us the same room we'd been in (with two double beds) for the past four days as it wasn't booked for the night—and they gave us $60 off the regular rate we'd paid during the four days we were there.
I actually ended up having the best night there of all, as during happy hour, for which we arrived back at the place right on time, Mitch (who used to live in Raleigh, but has been working at the Island House for several years now) came up to our table and said to me, "I've changed the island's entire schedule around and have set up line-dancing for you tonight."
He was actually kidding. He thought line-dancing was on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but wasn't sure so he'd called his boss of his other job (at the airport) who's also a line-dancer and he'd found out that it was actually on Mondays and Tuesdays. In the spirit of six degrees of separation, since last year Mitch had gotten a second, part-time job at the airport working for US Airways, and his boss Marvin, is the very same Marvin I met line-dancing there last year, and then when we'd gotten to the airport for our departure found him working at the airport as well. Small world. Well, small island.
So, after happy hour, Joe walked down to Cowboy Bill's Honky Tonk Saloon with me. Joe stopped at the Upper Crust first to grab a quick dinner, and then he joined me across the street long enough to say hi to Marvin, have one drink with me, and to make sure I'd gotten "settled in."
At the very beginning, I did a two-step with Marvin, and since we were the only two gay guys there, we were the only two men dancing together. The rest of the crowd was very straight. Joe noticed a couple sitting in a raised porch area overlooking the dance floor and the woman's lips mouthed to her boyfriend, "There's two guys dancing down there," when they noticed that we were. It's always nice to see people getting out of their small towns and minds to experience new things that other people in the world think are just "So what?"
Line-dancing while traveling is pretty much one of those hit-or-miss type experiences. Sometimes you don't know any of the dances the locals are doing, and often times, they do slight variations on dances that you do know, which results in the ever-humiliating jumping out on the dance floor all excited only to find yourself fading back off the floor halfway through a dance that has gone awry.
So, I was absolutely thrilled when I was able to do about ten dances that I knew, with only two of them having a variation in them that I was actually able to adjust to by about a fourth of the way into each of them. Dances I did included:
- Reggae Cowboy
- Tush Push
- Electric Slide
- Canadian Stomp (one of the ones with a slight variation)
- Backstreet Attitude (the other one with the slight variation in it)
- Trouble (I never did get this one fully before the song ended. They did this one the same way we do it, but it's been so long since we've done it, I couldn't get all of the steps back in time. Plus, they do this dance in a line, and we always do it running from one corner to another, which you wouldn't think would make a difference, but it does.)
- Texas Tattoo
- Mucara Walk
- Watermelon Crawl
I wanted to do one more two-step with Marvin before I called it a night. It was getting close to 10:00, which was the time the dancing was going to stop, so I went up and asked the DJ if he could play another two-step, or if that was going to be too much of a "buzz kill," since some (straight) people (of course) had gathered around to watch all the line-dancing up until that point. "I'll play an up-beat one," he said.
While another song played before the two-step song, I went to the bar to "wipe my brow," and there was the cutest couple sitting at the end of the bar there, and the girl said hello to me. She was a cute, petite thing, and next to her sat a huge hunk of a boyfriend with big everything about him, and with a cigar in his hand.
I said hello to them and found out they were from Houston, and did not know how to two-step or line-dance, but that they loved watching it. The girl was particularly excited about it. I said that I hadn't line-danced or two-stepped in Houston, but that I had both in Dallas and in Austin.
The girl got all excited and said she used to live in Austin and asked me where I'd danced there. "At the Rainbow Cattle Company," I said. "I'm gay, and in fact, I'm about to two-step next with Marvin over there," indicating him standing over by the dance floor. She told me that one of her best friends was gay and that she'd been to the Rainbow Cattle Company with him.
Just then the music changed, and I had my two-step with Marvin, which was just marvelous. There were two other people on the dance floor, both in the middle doing a line-dance to the song we were two-stepping to, so we essentially had the floor to ourselves, and we whipped around it. I could hear that girl "woo-hooing it" from across the room.
I'm pretty sure there was a lot more pointing and winking and nudging going on in the crowd, but everyone clapped when we were through, so that made it even more fun, fun, fun.
I walked back over to get another paper towel, and the girl of the couple had gone to the restroom. The guy complimented me on the dancing, and I asked his name. "Adam," he said.
"Nice to meet you, Adam," I said extending my hand, and then added, "Where'd your wife go?"
"Oh we're not married. But I'm going to ask her to marry me soon, but don't say anything," he confided.
"Great," I said, "Well, you're going to have very beautiful children, because you're both very, very good-looking," I said meaning, "You are one beautiful hunk of man, dude."
"I want to have a couple," he said. "And I want a boy. I'm 6'5" and she's 5'4", so I'm hoping our boy is somewhere nicely in the middle there."
I told him it was nice to meet him, and went back over by the dance floor. Another upbeat song came on and out of nowhere, the girlfriend grabbed me by the arm and took me out on the dance floor to do some disco kind of moves. I hate dancing with people who don't know what they're doing, especially when there is a crowd of people watching. She tried to twirl a couple of times, in the wrong direction, and since I know how to disco dance, I took control with a strong lead and made her petite little thing do what a good little follow should do. She was thrilled.
I left there feeling great. I'd had a ton of fun dancing, had gotten in some great exercise, and had met some nice people. Nice day, considering how it had started and how I'd fortuitously ended up there this evening.
Back at the Island House, I went to sit out on the deck to cool off a little at one point, as the weather was beautiful and a full—or almost full at the very least—moon lit up the sky brilliantly. I noticed this handsome guy sitting on a lounge chair and using his laptop. He'd been there on Saturday as well. A strapping boy, a little beefy, and thick black beard.
When I walked by him to leave, I stopped in front of his chair, and I said, "What's a good-looking guy like you doing sitting out here all alone again on your laptop?"
He smiled, and said, "Thank you. I live nearby on a houseboat, and I just come here to use the wireless access, and the gym."
"Great," I said, and added, "Well I won't keep you from what you're doing."
As I walked away he said, "No problem. Come back any time."
I got halfway back to our room and decided, "What the hell? I'll get my laptop and just go sit on the chair beside him." Then I remembered that my battery wouldn't last more than ten minutes, and there wasn't a nearby plug where he was, so I just went back and took a chair next to him and we started talking. He was quite the interesting guy, and I learned these things about him during our chat:
- His name was Brent.
- He's originally from Ohio, but has spent most of his life in Key West.
- The houseboat he lives on belongs to a lady friend, who's been gone for a couple of years now, taking jobs in the Far East—one in Bangkok for a while and another in Hong King, if I remember correctly.
- He also house sits for this couple that owns a $2-3M place there on Key West. It consists of two apartments with a pool in the middle of them. They don't rent out either apartment, and they're only there about four months of the year, as they have another place in Newport, RI. They also hire a landscaper, a pool boy, and one other service-type person that I can't remember—in addition to him.
- He was born in 1970, but is not yet 40, as his birthday is on October 18th.
- He couldn't live without a TV, because he loves to watch football—professional, not college; the Final Four, and professional tennis. He likes The Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars (although he's usually working when that comes on), and American Idol. He thinks Ellen is doing okay on it, but actually finds himself missing Paula Abdul, which surprises him a little.
- He sometimes watches Days of Our Lives with his mother. Like me, he started watching that soap opera years and years ago because his grandmother watched it. He's actually named after one of the characters on the show. The character originally had some other name, but changed it to Brent before he was born and named after him.
- He's been taking tennis lessons for about two hears now, and he's currently rated as a 3.5. He hopes to be a 4.0 within the next year.
- He works in a small, very successful restaurant called Seven Fish, and he bartends there. He has four bar stools dedicated to him on his shifts, and they are always full all night long. People ask to sit in his section. He understands what people want from their bartenders when they're on vacation in a place like Key West.
- He's five-foot-ten, ten-and-a-half, and he weighs about 220. He hadn't heard of "tight fat."
- His answer to my question about most memorable hurricanes he's experiences since living there was "Georges" and [the one in 2005]. The houseboat he's living in used to be in another area on Key West, but many of them got broken up during Hurricane Georges and the remaining ones have moved over to where his is now. The owner of the houseboat was actually away in Finland at the time of the storm, and there was a front page story in the local newspaper wherever she was in Finland, and there was a picture of the broken up houseboats, and her houseboat was in the picture—as one of the ones that had survived.
- He would never consider bartending at the Island House, as he doesn't like the fact that you can't really cut someone off there, as they're essentially already "home," but that people can still get hurt in a variety of ways from drinking too much, and he just doesn't want to deal with that. He didn't know that the happy hour there was free, paying only a tip on your bar bill at the end.