Greener Pastures

So Val asked me to do a little guest-blogging during his break. It took me all of five seconds to jump on that offer like a duck on a june-bug; I mean, who wouldn’t ditch suburban Atlanta for sunny Miami? Sheesh. Now if I could just figure out which button to mash to get my butt a mojito up in here, I’d be all set.

Speaking of sunny Miami, Val and his lovely wife reside in one of my favorite North American cities. I love Miami; from its ultramodern downtown area to Calle Ocho to Coconut Grove to South Beach, Miami is my kind of town. I love nothing better than to roll up to the News Caf? in the morning, drink a little American coffee and do a crossword, all while watching some of the most beautiful people in existence sashay by on the sidewalk. Then, on a perfect day, I’d go around the corner for some real coffee – the Cuban kind – and saunter down to the beach with it. After soaking up a couple of hours of sun, watching the children play in the crystal-clear sea, I’d mosey back over to the Tiffany for a shower and to dress for dinner. Ahhh. Yesss. I spent a lot of time in Miami when I was younger, and I guess I just fell in love.

See, Miami has always treated me better than I deserved. Back in college, my roommate (also named Kelly) was from Miami. A St. Brendan’s girl from the Springs, Kelly went home to see her mother twice a year, at Christmas and Spring Break. I first went with her on one of these trips in about 1989, just about the time that South Beach started hoppin’. It was paradise for two broke-yet-comely college lasses; we’d stay at Kelly’s mom’s house at night, spend the day at the beach, and go out every evening. In those days, that was all I needed to be happy. I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven!

What made the whole thing so special, such a hook-up, was Kelly’s step-dad, a guy named Carlos. Carlos was a big muckety-muck with one of the restaurant groups in Miami, and was working with a place on South Beach that was all the rage at the time. (I don’t want to give the name of the place, but I’ll tell you it began with an M, and served Italian-fusion type stuff). This place was popular. I mean, popular. When I went with Kelly in spring of 1991, we ate at a table next to Mickey Rourke. His fingernails were filthy! I elbowed Oliver Stone out of my way at the bar; I didn’t even know who the guy was until Carlos told me, I just knew he was taking up a lot of space. I walked in on Madonna doing keybumps with some other chick in the ladies’. It was that kind of place.

The beautiful thing was that because of Carlos, Kelly and I got the best of everything. We’d slouch up to The Me——– in our TJ Maxx finery, and be seated long before ladies dripping with diamonds. Everything was free, everything the best. After we stuffed ourselves to bursting on fresh-grilled swordfish and pinot grigio, Carlos would ask where we had in mind to go next. Then he’d motion to a waiter to bring him a phone – a cellphone the size of a toaster – and call the owners of the clubs we wanted to go to, to make sure they “took care of us”. A limo would draw up shortly, and ferry us from hip destination to hip destination. It was amazing; people stared at us, whispered from behind secretive palms and wondered “who we were”. For a brief time, we two middle-class college girls from the burbs lived like stars. And honey, whatever “mojo” is, Carlos had it, in spades.

I went to Miami with Kelly over and over again, at least twice a year for about five years. These days, Kelly and I don’t talk much; we fell out over politics a few years back and I think she’s written me off as a hopeless neocon nazi-type bitch. Carlos got sent to prison over some kind of fraud charge – of which I remain convinced that he was innocent – and Kelly’s mom divorced him, moved to West Palm, and married some other guy. Now, I only get to go there when I can afford to go on vacation, which isn’t very often. The star treatment was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. I hope to go to Miami with my husband and son this spring, and meet the Babalus.

I’d often thought of moving to Miami when I was younger, but it never happened. It’s just as well. Given my penchant for suburbs, I’d probably be living in Kendall, anyway. Six in one, half dozen in the other.

11 thoughts on “Greener Pastures”

  1. I am There

    Just in case you didn’t know, I’m guest-blogging for Val at Babalu Blog for the next few days or so, while he takes a rest. Come visit over there, too!…

  2. Welcome to the Babalu Family

    Kelley and Scott are taking care of things over at Uncle Val’s place for a little bit. You guys know this includes baby-sitting priviledges over yours truly, right?…

  3. Hm. You liked Miami for the same reasons I hated it and couldn’t wait to leave!

    The only thing I miss is easy access to properly-prepared Cuban coffee. Orlando is a Starbucks hell.

  4. Nice blog post Kelly. You reminded me of my time in Key West. All the memories came flooding in.

    I worked down there for about 6 months as a private nurse for an elderly multi-millionaire. They provided a car, my own place with a pool, and payed me very well. Basically to sit with this gentleman and watch TV. I was 27, single and had the time of my life down there.

    Speaking of Cuban coffee. Bee’s resturant in KW has the best I have ever had. Cafe Con Leche I believe it was called. Oh.. and the bean soup.

    I miss those days.

  5. Vlad and Andrea,

    Have you guys ever had a Cortadito? It’s just like a cafe con leche but instead of regular milk they use condensed milk. It is heaven.

  6. Actually Val, Thats what they used at Bee’s in KW. Canned milk! You are right. It is heaven. THey didnt call it a Cortadito though…I have yet to anything like this since moving back to Pennsylvania.

  7. Girlfriend

    My roommate from college came to visit me this week, and it was a really cool thing. If you’ve read many of my “little stories about nothing”, you’ll recall my friend Kelly, whom I met at “The University Formerly Known…

  8. Welcome to the Babalu Family

    Kelley and Scott are taking care of things over at Uncle Val’s place for a little bit. You guys know this includes baby-sitting priviledges over yours truly, right?…

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