← Previous Post: | Next Post:


A Hot April Sunday in Key West

It’s Open House, and many Key West properties – glorious green islets with small pools behind ship carpenter’s cottages – are available for viewing. On Fleming and Elizabeth and Eaton, on hidden lanes like Poorhouse and Catholic and Gecko, Key West’s white eyebrow houses release their shutters and let you in. They’re on the market.

From the front hall you see clear to the blue water in the back, where cats and doves and lizards live. The massed palms and hibiscus hide the house and its water garden from view, so it is your world, your sunny windy palm-sheltered world alone.

How to convey the joy and comfort and excitement that this kinetic self-contained world makes me feel? I see myself so clearly, leaning into that chaise, typing on a keyboard on my lap and listening to the purling of water. I smell honeysuckle in the heat, and jasmine.


Even when it’s not Open House, I’m sidetracked always, on my long daily walks, by the mysterious beauty of the half-hidden islets of Key West. Some have little lettered signs by their front doors (One Martini Two Martini Three Martini… Floor!). All have bicycles thrown against the thin white columns of the facades. Seabirds stand on the tin roofs, and potted geraniums on the porches.

On the street in front of the houses very old women on Vespas wave at you and speed by.

The heat is enormous; you feel as though you’re walking through a mobile steamroom, a sauna tricked out just for you, steady hot air pushed through to make you sweat. There’s wind, but the wind’s hot too. So you pace yourself. You have to pace yourself.

You’re carrying a citrus smoothie you bought at Help Yourself, a food market so pure, raw, natural and organic you could plotz.


At Help Yourself, heat-addled UD ordered not a smoothie, but a coolie. I’d like a coolie, please. I’ll have a coolie. Maybe she was thinking about how nice it would be to be cool.

The woman at the counter understood what UD meant but looked at her funny, and it came to UD that she’d not only made a mistake, but used a derogatory word for an Asian laborer.

While she waited for the salads she’d also ordered, UD looked at two articles in a natural living magazine.

One was about a 57-year-old Danish former Playboy playmate who looked 27. She’d had no surgery, she said, but attained this result through eating “raw.” UD stopped reading at the word raw.

The other article was about a woman who left her bathroom every morning in an ecstasy because her shit didn’t smell since she started eating raw.


When she got home, UD eyed the ceiling fan hard at work in her bedroom and wondered if she could figure out a way to hang her damp bra from one of its blades.

Margaret Soltan, April 5, 2009 2:37PM
Posted in: snapshots from key west

Trackback URL for this post:

2 Responses to “A Hot April Sunday in Key West”

  1. ttbdan Says:

    Oh gosh. Smelly poo. I suppose one of the reasons you don’t have a television is so that you can avoid shows such as You Are What You Eat. Yes, we’re talking mail order PhD in nutrition. Here’s a very short clip of the good doctor in action.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Thanks for that clip. Does give me a sense of what I’m missing.

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE