In Florida I was the fearless person I vowed I would be except I didn’t eat Sushi which, in all fairness, I had said I wouldn’t.
First, I flew. In an airplane. I have an irrational fear of flying, so in my head all airplanes are nicknamed “The Hindenburg”. I particularly don’t care for take-offs and landings even though I know that without them I would, essentially, just be sitting on a plane. But, flying is the fastest way to get from point A to hair extensions so I did it.
We began our trip in Fort Myers, Florida, home of my BFF since sixth grade, Kelly, her husband Scott, their son Dylan, two alligators, two goats, two dogs, thousands of cats, and six hens-a-layin’.
Scott can build anything, including the Scott-made pond in front of the house. It’s more like the size of a small lake. It’s Edenly landscaped with plants and boulders, and a Scott-made waterfall. Taking a stroll in the morning along the path (yes, Scott built that, too) amongst the Mulberry, banana, coconut, lemon, lime and mango trees, past the gardens of pineapple, tomatoes, carrots, a variety of lettuces, and a myriad of other vegetables while chucking a tennis ball to Shakespeare, one of their dogs, was the way I wish I could begin every day of my life. We’d pass the chicken coop, and mosey around the pond/lake, listening to the tranquil waterfall until I had to pee.
Scott is also the Captain of a charter fishing-boat, so when he took a day off and invited us to fish from his boat, we graciously accepted the offer, even though I have horrid memories of fishing from outings with my father when I was a child. We used to spend every summer in Lakeside, Michigan at our little cottage with an outdoor shower filled with spiders. My parents met there as teenagers when each of their families spent their summers there, too. So, all I did was play with my cousins and friends on the beach all day for most of my childhood. My father would drive back to Chicago to work during the week, and then join us on the weekends.
Sometimes my Dad would take us fishing. He had one of those neon orange gloves with spikes built into its palm. After we’d catch a fish he’d seize it from us and skewer the fish bloody as he ripped the hook out of its eyeballs. But, I didn’t say “no” when Scott invited us out on an excursion on his boat because it was a very generous offer, plus I had made that whole stupid “I’m going to be fearless on this trip” proclamation.
Dylan was in school, so Kelly, Richard, Veronica, Lucas, and I fished, and while I don’t quite understand why people love to fish, I do love yachting.
The sea, she was angry that day, my friends. No, she wasn’t, but I just wanted to say that.
We saw pods of dolphins frolicking about and several times along the way the yellow heads of sea turtles would pop up from the water. Scott had all of our hooks baited and ready to drop into the water about seven seconds after he stopped the boat and dropped anchor in one of his chosen fishing spots. I didn’t even see how many rods he had or where he stowed them, but they appeared in our hands, as if from nowhere.
Scott was in his element, on top of his game, in the zone, on a fisherman’s “high”, King of the Gulf — he was really good at what he did. He helped each of us let out the line from the rolling thingy on our rods, and made sure there was enough room between us so we wouldn’t get tangled up with each other.
I can’t even describe the thrill of feeling something tugging on my line, forcing me to keep my balance, which is hard for me on dry land, and concentrate on reeling it in. Scott coached me as I reeled in my catch, reminding me it wasn’t a race because in my excitement I tended to try to reel in whatever it was that was in “the drink” too quickly, jeopardizing my chances of keeping it on the line. And, because Scott very gently removed the hooks and released the fish back into the water, I can proudly say I am now de-traumatized about fishing. Maybe.
Veronica, who is completely fearless, climbed to the top of the fishing boat and jumped into the Gulf of Mexico several times. I don’t even jump into a pool so I delicately slid myself into the water from the lowest point of the boat I could find.
Scott holding Veronica’s catch because she wouldn’t.
But, the boat didn’t have a ladder and I couldn’t figure out how to climb back aboard. I kept trying, but I couldn’t do it mostly because I was laughing at Kelly’s panic-stricken face shaded by a super-cute little visor as she extended her arms toward me screaming, “Here! Here! Grab onto me!”
Richard eventually hoisted me out of the water and helped me roll onto the back of the boat like a beached whale. He covered me with a towel and left me there to catch my breath. Between laughing so hard and the thrill of the experience of being in the chilly Gulf water, I was exhausted. Ok. So, I didn’t climb Mount Everest; but in my frizzy little head it was exhilarating and fun all the same.
Later that night, Scott took us all out to a restaurant that had prepared the Grouper he had caught the previous day according to his recommendations: Parmesan, and sauteed in a light, lemon sauce. Yum.
The next day we drove from Fort Myers to Weston to see my in-laws, Harriet and Howard, and then dropped our luggage off in Pompano Beach at our hotel. We then drove to Key Biscayne because I insisted we go to The Sony Open this year. Repeat: I insisted. I don’t insist. But, we have been on the island of Key Biscayne at least four times during The Sony Open tennis matches and this time I was going, even if I had to go alone.
Luckily Lucas wanted to go, so Richard decided to go with us. Veronica opted to stay back in Weston with my in-laws. We walked to the tournament from our friends’ Tom and Susana’s gorgeous new house with their son, Danny.
One of Tom’s friends had given him passes for all of us to walk around and watch the men’s afternoon matches. We climbed into the stands to catch a few games between Cilic and Giraldo who fought with passion to come close to winning, but lost to the number nine seed from Croatia. We began cheering for Giraldo, the underdog from Columbia, all of us singing “Olé, olé, olé, olé!” with the crowd.
My phone was on “stun” so I was stunned when my mother texted “Are you going to get to see Serena?” As in Serena Williams? I hadn’t been keeping up with the leaderboard so I had no idea Serena was playing that night. We only had day passes so I texted Mom back and told her we didn’t have tickets. And then, as if the Tennis Gods felt my mother’s disappointment, another friend of Tom’s gave us his tickets for the 8:00 P.M. Main Event because he had to leave. And even though Tom and Susana had to leave, too, we WERE going to see Serena Williams play.
We arrived early for Serena’s match in order to watch a few games between the number four seed Berdych and Gimeno-Traver. Richard took Danny and Lucas to get a snack. But I got a smoothie and a bag of popcorn the size of Rhode Island at the Main Stadium and walked out to our seats in time to see Ayuma Morita warming up with the number one tennis player in the world, Ms. Serena Williams.
After typing the words “Ms. Serena Williams” I should just stop writing now.
We watched Serena play a few sets, but had to leave before she beat Morita because we were exhausted. After all, we had just arrived in Florida on Wednesday, spent Thursday at Edison State College in Fort Myers where Richard gave a presentation on the Holocaust, and Friday fishing and flopping around (me) on Scott’s boat. Plus, Richard was experiencing serious back pain because he had injured it before we left town and pulling me out of the Gulf of Mexico probably didn’t help. We walked back to Tom and Susana’s house to get our car and headed back to our hotel in Pompano Beach. We had splurged and reserved a separate room for the kids and, since Veronica was staying with Harriet and Howard that night, Lucas had it all to himself.
At 7:30 A.M. the next morning Richard and I were already getting into our bathing suits and packing up a beach bag when the fire alarm went off and a voice from the loud-speaker instructed us to evacuate the building. I ran out into the hallway to make sure Lucas was awake and ready to walk in an organized, calm manner with us and the other hotel guests down the five flights of stairs to the safety of the beach.
Thinking Lucas’s room was immediately next door to ours, I began banging on the door, only instead of Lucas’s pleasant face, an older man opened the door and scowled at me. I was shocked but then realized Lucas’s room was two doors down from ours. I apologized to the man, even though if there had really been a fire, waking him up would have probably saved his life.
I ran one door over to Lucas’s room and knocked like a madwoman. Lucas was half asleep when he opened the door and said that he had heard something ringing, and got out of bed just before I came to his door because he was going to make sure we were ready to evacuate the building, too.
Lucas, totally into the 7:30 AM hotel fire alarm evacuation.
Wearing no shoes or socks, and his Pac Man “Eat Me” pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, he walked down the five flights of stairs with us and most of the other hotel guests. After the “all clear” alarm was sounded, the alarm malfunctioned and continued to go on and off for about an hour. I decided to hit the beach and stay there.
We had a lovely day at the beach with my in-laws who brought Veronica to the hotel. The next day was the day I had been waiting for: Hair extension day!
So now that you’re up-to-date on what happened before, during, and after I went to Joseantonio’s Salon and met Lola, I’ll tell you the latest dish on my hair.
Last Friday Robin DiPaulo, the owner of Blue Orchid Salon and Spa in Highland Park, was more than happy to help me figure out how to incorporate Lola onto my head. She Karatined my real hair so it won’t look like frizzy steel wool during the hot, humid summer, and so that Lola will be easier to style. I had to keep my hair dry over the weekend and had to flat-iron any kinks that might have sprung up overnight. It was weird, in a really good way to wake up with hair that looked good. I didn’t have the “Kramer” thing going on anymore.
After three days, I was finally allowed to wash my hair, but only with Marcia Teixeira Keratin Care shampoo and conditioner, which will be the only shampoo and conditioner I can use from now on to keep my freshly Karatined hair smooth and shiny. I love the luscious smell and way the shampoo and conditioner make my hair feel. Having been Karatined in the past, I’m very familiar with the straw-like feeling of freshly Karatined hair that a horse could easily mistake for dinner. But with the Marcia Teixeira products Robin used, and the ones I use at home, I’ve had no horses knocking on my door to eat — I mean –see my new “do”.
So, now Lola and my Karatined Boomba hair get along well and play nicely together. I’d like to thank the Academy…Wait. I mean, I’d like to thank my friend Susana Medrano Roth for introducing me to Joseantonio, and Robin PiPaulo of Blue Orchid Salon and Spa in Highland Park, Illinois. You’ve all helped to make me feel like a new person. I’m still me: klutzy, forgetful, easily distracted, and all, ” oh wait, there’s a squirrel!” But, at least I look like a better version of me.