What I’m Riding . . . a few days in the deep south

The highlight of any trip, business or otherwise

The highlight of any trip, business or otherwise

Miami is a lot like Las Vegas.  I discovered this when Arty Party and I traveled down there two years ago to meet up with our friend Wendy from Vegas.  I’m sure if I had the time to do Miami proper, stay in the heart of things and not have to drive around, I would have loved it.  But I was fresh from leaving Vegas and to be plunked back in the east coast version of it; it’s not a trip I would label successful, with the exception of seeing the fantabulous Wendy and meeting her equally fabulous then-fiancé, now husband.  AP and I were going to scout out locales for our business; we spent most of our time eating in the Grand Luxe café, chilling in the bookstore, and sleeping in the hotel room.  On the way back from Miami we stopped in Punta Gorda and made an attempt at getting into one of the stores there just so we wouldn’t feel like complete failures.  Next time, we vowed, we were going to do it right.  Well, beautiful babies, here we are, once again in southern Florida, trying to right the wrong.

I came super prepared.  I mapped out ten locations, planning down to the second on which three days we could squeeze them in.  I of course also worked in a hockey game; my writing brain has been clogged lately and I have an okay to deliver a novel to my dream agent, so what better way to get it all going than to watch Ovie?  My first story ever published was “about” him, so let’s keep it going.  Ovie + me = writing magic.

Wednesday we checked in.  Uneventful, except when AP used the pot, it wouldn’t flush.  No biggie.  She just needed to hold down the handle longer.  There are signs in the elevator, explaining they are remodeling, the pool is closed, excuse their dust, but it is all for the convenience of me, their cherished guest.  I feel so blessed.  I get to bed early–midnight–even put in a wake-up call for nine-thirty, very early for me.  There are three places to see in Miami before the hockey game (I am in Tamarac) and I want to have ample time to get everything done, write a little and hit the hotel gym.  I am so on top of it I could hate myself for being the me I know I could never be.

Thursday I am awakened by a horrendous, droning noise.  I am wearing earplugs, but the noise has gotten through.  I sit up and look around the room.  Drilling.  I hear drilling.  It sounds like someone is drilling a hole right through my cranium.  AP sits up in her bed and stares at me like she might murder someone, hopefully not me.  I even say, “A drill!” so she’ll know it’s not me.  We call the front desk just as another drill starts in; dueling drills, as AP explains to the clerk on duty.  We end up getting Wednesday comped and moved to another room.  Grand.  But now we are an extra hour late getting out of the room.  To make a long, painful story short, I drive around for the next three hours and we eat.  I come back to the room, not having seen any shops, not having written a word.  I do get to the gym.  The elderly Asian woman in there with me is doing abdominal leg raises and just as I am shuffling my iPod to find a suitable song to go the distance, she lets three butzes rip, plpl, plpl, plplplplpl, all in succession.  I hobble back upstairs and climb in the tub.  I need to get Zen before seeing Ovie.

Ah, the hockey game.  Against the Panthers, and if I had a Lexus I could park for free.  At warm-up skate, there’s a grown woman holding a glittered sign that says “Ovie, I want a puck for my birthday.”  She’s jumping up and down, banging the glass, screaming his name, flapping the sign like the waving girl leading ships into Savannah.  I’ve studied Ovie enough to get his drift; he pretends to see nothing, but he sees all.  He’s Russian, being covert is in his DNA.  I wonder if he’s going to give this broad her puck, because although he hasn’t glanced her way once, I know he knows the sign is there and what it says.  He is in her vicinity, bouncing a puck on his blade.  AP and I wonder; will he?  He drops it, shoots it at the net and skates away.  A few minutes later he is back, bouncing another puck on his blade.  This one he lobs over the glass for her, without looking in her direction, and skates away.  The gobshite behind her steals the puck.  She shows him her sign; all of us in the front row know the puck is for her, but nope, he’s not giving it up.  I feel bad for her.  She continues to stand there with her sign, yelling Ovie’s name, but I know he won’t give her another puck even if she’s hoping for the contrary.  She should fold up the sign, move on her way, she got what she wanted and some fool stole it from her.  But Cap Troy Brouwer takes pity on her and, not knowing Ovie already lobbed her one, hangs one over the side and drops it right into her hand.  Does she leave?  No.  She puts the puck in her purse and says to her friend, “Just in case Ovie comes back” and continues to shake the sign and shout Ovie’s name.  Is it any wonder why celebs don’t look at us, hope we don’t notice them, are afraid to grant a request.  Because it just isn’t good enough.  We always want more.  Take what is given, be grateful, and move on.  Anyway, Caps beat the Panthers 5-4, Ovie scored the winning goal, and I came away thinking the entire day wasn’t lost.

Today.  Got a late start.  Four places on the docket, only saw two because one was having a special event and closed early, and the other closed at four and we got there at twenty after.  Should have started earlier.  Lesson learned.  Had dinner, then parked at the Boca Raton B&N to begin this blog.  While writing it, AP says something to me I don’t hear, but she looks disturbed.  I say, “What?” and she says, “Homeland.”  After a little hushed discussion I learn there is a woman dressed in robes standing by the toys doing a full-on prayer ceremony, the kind Damian Lewis’s character did in his Homeland garage when he freaked out his daughter.  Full on the floor, bending over herself, whispering to no one.  Now, before you think I am selective in being disturbed by what this woman is doing, I pose this to you:  I am uncomfortable with any sort of outward religious public practices.  A whole family saying Grace in McDonald’s?  Yep.  I’m a little disturbed.  It’s like watching two people make out in line at Starbuck’s–some things are personal and private.  I’m freaked out by the woman outside the subway ringing a bell, telling me I’m going to hell if I don’t find Jesus, and I’m freaked out by a full on ceremonial prayer service in the middle of Barnes & Noble.  We leave, quick, partly because I’m a writer and I can’t help but to see the B&N being blown to Smithereens with me inside it, and partly because I just want to get back to the room and soak in the tub again.  Guess who’s parked next to us?  Yep.  The prayer lady and her family: four other women dressed just like her, and a teen boy in jeans and button-down shirt playing on his iPhone.

Tomorrow we head back to Tampa, with two places to see, one on an Indian reservation.  Here’s hoping they’re not freaked out by two white women hawking magnets out of a Braden Holtby tin lunchbox.

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About whatimriding

Born and raised in Philly, I spent several years in Las Vegas, working at the House of Blues and writing about the city. I now reside in Tampa, where I continue to work on novels, scripts and short stories and tearfully await former Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier's return to the bay area.
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