The bright sunshine, turquoise waters and gentle breezes of the laid-back Florida Keys are a great place to go topless. It allows us to relish the sunshine. We drove south from Fort Lauderdale and couldn’t wait to reach Key Largo to take our top off. The Overseas Highway is a narrow ribbon of road that connects the Florida Keys crossing over water that seems to stretch endlessly on both sides. It is the perfect place for a convertible.
Being topless is a novelty for us, so we take every opportunity to pop the top. Running to the grocery store, driving to the ATM or heading to a nearby beach are all good excuses to put the top down. After a ride to a neighboring island to watch kite boarders, we returned to our resort to spend the rest of the warm, cloudless afternoon on the beach. We left the top down in anticipation of going out to dinner at our favorite Cuban restaurant.
After watching a colorful sunset, we came back to our cottage to shower off a day’s worth of sunscreen and sand. While we were getting ready for dinner we tuned in to the South Florida local news. We find the frequent weather reports particularly amusing. On the night we were watching, the meteorologist and newscasters were complaining about the unseasonably warm temperatures – the low 80’s. They were eagerly anticipating a cold front that would come through the region and cause the temperatures to tumble all the way down to the high 70’s. They even recommended people get their sweaters and fleece jackets ready to prepare for overnight temperatures in the high 60’s.
Oregano sat on the couch reading while I was showering. Moments after I turned off the water, I heard Oregano say, “Oh shit!” I saw him jump off the couch and run out the door without shoes. Dripping wet from my shower, I had no idea what was happening and was in no position to run after him to find out what was going on. Despite the nearly incessant weather reports, the irony was that the meteorologist neglected to mention the showers passing over the Middle Keys; information that would have alerted us to put the top back on the convertible. Instead, Oregano heard the rain, but mistook it for the water running in the shower. When I turned off the water, but the sound continued, he realized what was going on and dashed out the door holding the car keys.
As quickly as he could, Oregano put the key in the ignition and hit the button to put the top back up. He sat in the car being rained upon waiting for what seemed to be an interminable amount of time while the top leisurely fell back into place. The top closed mere moments before the deluge ended, but it was too late, the interior of the car was wet. A soaked Oregano gingerly walked barefoot back to the cottage across the gravel parking lot. As he sat on the floor picking small stones from between his toes he said, “The weather report was on 15 times in the last hour. Do you think they could have mentioned that there were showers in the area? Don’t tell me they didn’t see it coming on the radar!”
His toes now gravel free, he put shoes on, grabbed beach towels then went back to the car to attempt to dry the dashboard and seats. There was only so much he could do. What we really needed was time and sunshine to dry things out; two things we didn’t have at the moment.
Oregano returned to the cottage and changed into dry clothes. We grabbed another set of towels to sit on as we drove to dinner. Before the door to the cottage closed, I turned to him and asked, “Do you have the keys?”
He said he had them in his hand. Not five minutes later, as we were slipcovering the damp car upholstery with beach towels, he said, “Give me the keys and I’ll go get more towels for us to sit on.”
I looked up at him and replied, “I don’t have the keys. You said you had the keys.”
“I had the keys to the car, not the keys to the cottage. Crap! Now what do we do?”
“Go to the office and ask for another set,” I said calmly. I watched him walk to the office then turn around and dejectedly walk back towards me empty-handed.
“The office is closed. Now what?”
“Well, I have a number to call the manager, but it’s locked in the cottage along with the keys,” I said, noting the irony of the situation.
What we attempted to do next was not our finest moment as a married couple. We’ve seen criminals in movies break into houses using credit cards, so we tried to jimmy the lock. We didn’t want to damage our credit cards so we decided to use my library card. Not usually the first choice of burglars, but it’s the same size as a credit card so we thought it might work. After a few unsuccessful and clueless attempts, we decided that we’d never make it as criminals and stopped our endeavors before we made our situation worse by breaking the lock, my library card or both.
The thought of spending the night sleeping in the soggy back seat of a convertible was completely unappealing. There had to be a way to get the after-hours number for the manager. I walked up to the office and found a number listed on the late check-in box. Oregano called it and thankfully the manager answered and told us she was on the way. We stood outside on the now cloudless evening admiring the constellations, waiting to be rescued from our own stupidity. Of course, Oregano lightened the mood by making numerous puns about leaving the keys in our cottage in the Keys. I laughed as I swatted away the mosquitoes that were feasting on my repellant-free flesh. Fifteen minutes later, the manager arrived. We apologized profusely for disturbing her evening, but true to Southern hospitality she was gracious and said it wasn’t a problem.
With two sets of keys in our hands, we climbed into our moist ride and headed off to the Cuban restaurant looking forward to a great meal and a big glass of sangria. As we walked across the parking lot with damp backsides, we were supremely disappointed to find that the Cuban restaurant had gone out of business.