Friday, June 12, 2009

Good Company

Chef and I love to have company. Many of our local friends tell us we should just open a B&B considering how many people we have come visit. For example, this year between Memorial Day weekend and the third week of June we will have had six rounds of company. That averages to more than one round a week. When you live near the beach and have a guest room, summer time visitors become part of your routine.

Each round of company is completely different from the next. Some of our guests are up and moving by 7 am, and others have trouble dragging themselves out of bed before noon. We have visitors that bring junk food to satisfy their cravings, and others that bring liquor to make specialty drinks. Some people will eat like animals, scarfing down anything we put in front of them, others are more picky. I am proud to report that last week, Claire, a college girlfriend of mine, ate seafood for the first time in over a was a dish called Pappardelle con Aragosta e Piselli, which is fresh made pappardelle pasta nests with lobster and peas. We were glad to share the mega milestone for the longtime vegetarian.

One thing is for sure, we are going to eat well and eat plenty when visitors come to town. Company calls for at least one feast at the restaurant, and one feast at home. Chef's objective is to put all visitors into what we call a food coma at least once during their time with us. He loves to share his art with friends, and I love to have an excuse to totally indulge without guilt.

We often give our visitors directions to the beach, or the state park and let them venture off on their own. That is the key to being able to really enjoy house guests. They are here for vacation, and we try to strike a balance between relaxing with them and doing the business of our daily lives. Most of the time this works out best for all involved, but on one particular visit things went terribly wrong.

J is a fantastic artist that lives in Charlotte, NC and a dear friend from college. Three years ago he called me and asked if he could come visit. He had met an
older woman a few months before on a road trip in the Grand Canyon, and he wanted to have a romantic rendezvous with her on Amelia Island. This proposition sounded entertaining, so Chef and I obliged. At the time we were not yet living together, so Chef let J and his lady friend stay in his loft while he crashed at my house.

The first day of their island getaway, I had to work. I was running an art gallery at the time, so I gave the couple directions to the beach over breakfast and made plans to meet up with them for dinner. They had not returned any of my phone calls that day, and I was beginning to worry. I knew they had gone to the beach, and that was it. It was 8 hours later before I heard from them again.

Finally, around 6 pm, J called me and told me they were downtown. He sounded a little tipsy. I went to meet them and found the couple drunk, splayed out on the main dock of the downtown marina. J was not wearing a shirt, his long headbanger hair a tangled mess, while the lady friend was in a similar state in her bikini top and short shorts, sunburned and looking a little saucy. Other tourists, nice squeaky clean tourists, stepped around the two degenerates laid out on the cement docks. People were staring.

I looked at them and said, "What happened to you two? You have to get up!" They looked at me with glazed eyes and began to laugh. "Guys, this is sooo not San Diego. You can't just lay on the ground on the waterfront here. " The two slowly picked themselves off the ground and J said, "You will not believe the day we have had."

Over a beer at the Palace Saloon, he told me what had happened. J and his lady set off for the beach. They picked up some beer and some snacks on the way. When they arrived and they set up camp in the sand. The blazing Florida heat was unbearable, so the couple decided to cool off in the sea. As they made their way into the water, J stepped on a stingray and its spiked barb stabbed him in the foot. At the time J wasn't exactly sure what happened. He just knew that he had been attacked by some sea monster, and he had to try to keep his cool in order to impress his lady friend.

He told her that it was nothing to worry about, and that she should enjoy her swim. He limped back onto the beach and plopped down on his towel. Blood was pouring out of his foot. As he watched her swim the searing pain began to creep up his leg...until, as he put it "I could feel it in my balls and that was it."

They packed up their stuff and went to the emergency room. The doctor treated J's wound, and gave him a Tetanus shot. Two hours later they were back in J's little white pickup truck on their way to the beach. Desperately needing a beer, the couple each cracked a cold one in the truck. It seemed like the worst was over as the two discreetly sipped on the brewskis, cruising to the beach. Then J noticed the flashing lights in his rear view mirror. A cop was pulling him over.

The lady stashed the beers under a towel at her feet. J was a nervous wreck as the police man approached his window. His registration sticker had expired on his license plate. "License, registration, and insurance please." The cop said. Earlier, in an effort to "clean his truck up" for his lady friend, he had stashed all of the new insurance paperwork under his seat. He reached under his seat to retrieve it, and the cop started yelling at him.

"Keep your hands where I can see them!" He thought J was reaching for a gun. J threw his hands into the air. "I was just getting my insurance papers! Don't shoot." The cop was now on guard. He let J slowly get the papers out from under his seat. The police officer took them to his car and wrote J a ticket. He drove off, and the two set off again on their way to the beach.

The couple set up camp again in the sand and cracked open a few more beers. Drinking is a no-no on our beaches here. As they joked about their day, a booming voice came out of nowhere yelling J's name. J jumped up to see the same police officer trudging through the sand heading toward him on the beach. For a moment he thought he was going to be arrested, but it turned out the officer had forgotten to give J back his license. They had a polite exchange, and the officer went on his way. J and his lady quickly downed whole six pack to steady their nerves and about an hour later met me downtown at the marina.

Hearing their story I couldn't believe that someone could have so much bad luck in one day. Luckily, the two had a great sense of humor and spent the rest of the evening laughing it off. It was a great story and the rest of the weekend went on without a hitch. It was amazing to see two people who barely know each other go through a day like that and still be in good spirits. They were bound and determined not to let their time together be ruined by random happenstance. Chef and I were just glad that we didn't have to bail anyone out of jail, and that it was a stingray and not a shark that attacked J.

J is the first of two house guests to have been accosted by venomous sea life while visiting. Chef's 8 year old nephew Charlie got stung by a jelly fish. They were at the beach at the Ritz, and Chef's solution was to pour a shot of vodka on the sting to disinfect it. He saw it on Mythbusters or something. Probably would not have been my course of action, but I was not there, so who am I to judge. He walked up to the tiki bar, bought a shot of the cheapest vodka they had and poured it on poor Charlie's arm. The little fella bellowed out an agonizing scream as the liquor hit the sting, and threw himself into the pool to stop the burning. Needless to say, Chef felt beyond terrible.

Recently J dropped me a line and said he was thinking about paying us a visit. Brave man. With each round of company there is always an adventure of some sort. When people go on vacation they seem to attract new experiences of all kinds, and when they share their vacation with us we are always surprised at how each visit brings about something exciting. We have three more rounds of company to go this month, and I can't wait to see what happens next!


emily said...

Love it!

Alli Royce Soble said...

thanks for letting us be a part of you world this week. Thank gawd we did not have any craziness like your friend J. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon. Go Tootsie Gooooo!!!

tarajwilder said...

We had a great time with your lovely family and all the fabulous food. When do we get to return the favor?

Marcy Gordon said...

The perils of living in Florida. What else does "Chef" think vodka will cure? too funny.

Nan said...

Chef thinks possibly foot odor.