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“You’re on Key West…

… Get off the phone!”

A crew member on our snorkel boat shouted this at a passenger opening his cell phone, and UD thought, yes, throw them all away and relax and gaze at the green water and the blue sky and feel the wind rippling your hair and the sun warming your back!

Yet she herself was talking into a phone.

She wanted to share her thoughts and experiences with Mr UD, but he wasn’t picking up, so UD left a bunch of messages narrating each stage of today’s trip to the reef: UD meeting with her fellow snorkelers by the newspaper machines; UD settling in to a semi-shaded seat on the boat and being surrounded by a family each of whose three children went back and forth over whether they were going to snorkel. (There are sharks. I won’t go. The wetsuit’s pinching my neck. I won’t go. The water’s 67 degrees. I won’t go.); UD‘s slight anxiety about snorkeling again after so many years (She did fine.); the just-okay reefs (UD, who has snorkeled Andros, the Caymans, and Cozumel, is spoiled.); the surpassingly beautiful island views from the boat…

Truly, despite the bad reggae on the return trip, UD was in heaven. Many happy people (the crew dashed about pouring beer) smiled at the solitary old woman … a widow?… still game after her long life … The old girl went in snorkeling!… And UD smiled back at every single one of them… In a deep bass she sang Moos peepool leev on a loonely island…

Some of the passengers had come from a Disney cruise ship. A vast Goofy — he seemed to be in the act of painting the ship’s name — hung suspended over the vessel’s side.

Many of these people wore mouse ears.

UD took a bicycle rickshaw home from the marina. “WHAT’S YOUR NAME,” the bicycle lady, a strapping twentyish woman, screamed at UD. “MINE’S NATALIE. ARE YOU AT AN INN OR A RESIDENCE. WHERE ARE YOU FROM. I GREW UP HERE. HEY BABY. [Hey baby was for a fellow rickshaw driver pumping up Duval. She was pumping down Duval, to UD‘s United Street apartment.] AND I’M TELLING YOU I’LL NEVER LEAVE YOU NEVER NEVER NEVER. [Sung along with the radio.] ”

Margaret Soltan, February 22, 2009 8:44PM
Posted in: snapshots from key west

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