So as you may have gathered by my recent absence and drunken exhortations to buy and consume fruit flavored rum, Mr. Slattern and I recently enjoyed a relaxing stay in the islands. We don’t really go in for the swim-up bar type of destination, preferring instead to do our drinking while decently clothed in the comfort of a chair or chaise, but we’ll make do with a stool when necessary. We found a charming little resort, the Cocodimama in Eleuthera, where we could do just that, and as an added bonus, we discovered that they have very good food and Sammy, one of the world’s great bartenders. Consider the Slattern’s seal of approval enthusiastically given.
So, all in all it was a delightful getaway with sun, sand, food and drink in copious abundance. Perfect, but for one small, wrinkly fly in our sunscreen: the islands of the Bahamas appear to be teeming with active seniors. Unlike the doddering species of domestic snow bird that infests Florida and other stateside environs (which has already been extensively and hilariously chronicled by my pal Cristy Carrington Lewis), the international retiree apprears to be quite adventurous and engaged with his surroundings and neighbors. Which frequently makes him/her a far larger pain in the ass.
Let me offer you a couple of examples from my recent experience:
Mr. Slattern and I encountered Baked Alaska and his lovely wife Mrs. Alaska in the hotel bar while we were engaged in a particularly contentious game of Scrabble – I know what you’re thinking, but we’re word people and the way we play Scrabble, it qualifies as a blood sport, well a drunken blood sport. Sort of like cockfighting without the chickens. Anyways, there we were, at a quiet table by the door, obviously engaged in some serious mental gymnastics while happily partaking of that oh-so-crucial third pre-dinner cocktail, when out of nowhere and completely unbidden, Baked Alaska appeared at our table, officiously peering over Mr. Slattern’s shoulder and effectively smashing both our concentration and our cozy rum glow to smithereens.
“Playin’ Scrabble?” he astutely queried.
We resisted the urge to slap back the usual snappy retort along the lines of, “Scrabble? Heck no, we’ve got a little cold fusion underway here, but no Scrabble.”
He then hovered for the next twenty minutes, interrupting us with the usual line of interrogation — Where you folks from? How long you staying for? What’s your line of work? Would you like to see my wife naked? OK, he didn’t ask us that last one, I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
In the pregnant silences between his questions and our brief, monosyllabic responses, Baked Alaska offered a wealth of information about himself, including the fact that he was from Alaska, but since retiring had split his time between the tropics and his home base with occasional stops at an intermediate, layover property in Arkansas. And no, I didn’t ask why Arkansas of all the fucking places in the world. I wanted to know, but couldn’t have borne the lengthy real time recitation of the thought process behind buying a house in the middle of fucking nowhere as a stopover on a journey to the ends of the fucking Earth.
Eventually Baked Alaska and his deep golf tan drifted off to another table to pester another innocent pair of tourists, but not before he had so distracted and irritated me that I missed an obvious seven-letter word (INTRUDER into a triple word score) and instead played RUDE for twelve measly points. I still suspect Mr. Slattern of putting him up to it. The man will stop at nothing to win.
Not convinced? Think we’re just a couple of cranky, unfriendly sticks in the mud? Consider this:
Deaf Con Red
Later that same evening, our equilibrium restored, we were basking in the glow of a tasty fish dinner and trying to decide whether to have another rum drink with dessert or in place of it, when our space was once again invaded. Baked Alaska was, by this time, deeply involved in a discussion of irons versus wedges or some equally fascinating subject with the father of a family of eight from Arkansas (“Arkansas? Really! Gosh, we’ve got a place in Hot Springs….”), and Mrs. Alaska had long since dozed off at their table. Our sense of security, however, was as false as it was short lived.
We looked up from our menus expecting to see the friendly waitress all ready to take our order (two more Bahama Mamas and two pineapple pies, please — it was vacation after all). Instead we encountered the ruddy grinning mug of Deaf Con Red. The conversation went something like this:
DCR: “Hey folks, where you from?”
Mr. Slattern: “New York”
Mr. Slattern: “New YORK”
Mr. Slattern and me, screaming: “NEW YORK”
DCR: “Oh New York. Never lived there, but the wife loves to visit. Too noisy for my liking. I’m from Somefuckingplace (I’ll be honest, I had already tuned out, or passed out, I’m not sure which) in Iowa. How long you here for?”
Mr. Slattern (forgetting that our interlocutor was deaf, since like me, he had been ever so slightly over served by this point): “Just a week.”
I’ll spare you a verbatim recounting. Suffice to say the conversation went on like that for some little time, with Deaf Con Red asking questions and forcing us to repeat the answers two, three and even four times because he either wouldn’t wear a hearing aid or couldn’t be bothered to turn it up. I’m willing to wager that battery conservation played a role, but whatever the case, Mr. Slattern and I both woke up at four am on the beach in our dinner attire, hungover, eyebrowless and hoarse, because despite our clear lack of interest Deaf Con Red sat down with us and eventually his pal, Baked Alaska, drifted over too. At least that’s what I think happened. Once the rum starts arriving straight up and on fire, all bets are off.
Because God has a sense of humor, both sets of active retirees were on our homebound flight. It took us a while to puzzle out why they kept calling us Trixie and Froderick, and we were initially flummoxed by some of their comments about our professions, but as the trip progressed, the memories of the evening returned in sickening, lurid detail. On the positive side, apparently, even at this advanced age, I can still pass as a stripper and Mr. Slattern makes a convincing rap artist. Who knew?
I Like You, Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris
This is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, I suppose because it reminds me of my own life back in those hazy days before Dr. Feldman got the prescriptions balanced just so. Reading through it is, for me, like a walk down memory lane, a stroll through the past, a slow backward stumble into the three-day benders, stomach pumps and small town jails of yesteryear. It’s nostalgia with a twist, or perhaps twisted nostalgia would be a better description. Anyways…