My friend Chris was back in town for the weekend, and he brought along his friend Chris. Chris No. 2 was born, raised and lived in the same town all his life. For him, Cincinnati was a little bit of culture shock.
He said he felt like time had stopped when he arrived here. That's understandable, because everyone knows his hometown of Manhattan is more fast-paced, to say the least. We tried to put on our best face for him.
For lunch, it was Myra's because Floyd's was closed for summer vacation. Besides having great food, the environment there is, well, un-Cincinnati. I suppose we should have left him get his feet a little wet before heading over to Chris No. 1's mom's house on the West side.
After an evening cook-out, Chris No. 2 was offered a game of cornhole by the neighbors, the game that seems to be spreading faster than the West Nile Virus. He declined.
To get out of the heat we decided to start our night at Carol's, always a good meeting place to get the evening going. By the time our group had assembled, it was almost midnight and the heat of the day had taken its toll on us. We'd planned on Bar Humbug followed by a stop at The Dock but instead found ourselves heading up the hill to home before 1 a.m.
As we passed Milton's, we felt we should stop in and not end the evening so soon. We ordered drinks, didn't quite finish them and again headed home. Unfortunately, Chris No. 2 got a better feel for Cincinnati nightlife than we'd intended.
C'est La Vie
Summer is off-season in the Caribbean, though it's high season at Kings Island and The Beach Waterpark.
I only wish Americans got the time off to enjoy any location of their choice like Europeans do with their month-long holidays.
As it is, the attraction seems to be water of any type. Water beckons us to calm our senses and cool our feet for a day, a week and, if only, a month.
In my case, I felt lucky to steal a week looking at the ocean with a cool drink in hand and lots of sunscreen on the skin. The tropical drink of choice poolside has always been the Pina Colada, which among friends is affectionately called the Penis Coladas. I'm not a huge fan of fruity drinks, as they're too sweet, but when mixed with surf and sun they go down mighty smooth.
As luck would have it, my companion and I were on the All-Inclusive Plan at the Le Meridien Hotel in St. Maarten, where the Pina Coladas were $8 a pop but with our vacation package were free and plentiful. The chaise lounges were also free and plentiful, since many don't think to travel to the Caribbean Islands in the summer. It's the perfect time to go, since the crowds are lighter and the breeze makes it delightful. Plus, let's not forget the price of the trip is about half of what it is in the winter.
St. Maarten is divided almost down the middle, with half the island being Dutch and the other half French. We quickly discovered the quaintness of the French side and settled into the vacation mode of cafes and cocktails when the sun and surf proved too much. The food was delicious and the Heinekens were $1 in the town of Marigot. The marina was full of beautiful boats that danced at the docks.
A favorite activity of mine besides boat- and people-watching is exploring the various beaches on islands. St. Maarten had plenty to amuse me, and in our rented Daewoo I was determined to see them all. Well, the Daewoo was so tiny it barely navigated the hills and gave up on us at a red light at noon in Marigot. This prompted a slight domestic argument after four blocks of walking to find a rental car agency. There on the main corner with several bistros I threw the satchel on the sidewalk and told my friend to find his own bleeping car. Of course, I should have kept the satchel with me, since the money was in it. After the four-block walk back to the car to wait for help, I was plenty thirsty and hot. When the car guy showed up, I insisted he kiss and make up with my friend and we all had a laugh about it as we traded cars and headed back out on our beach adventure.
It's hard to stay mad when surrounded by sunshine and beaches, and a little passion in France is expected. It makes for a great drama and finding an isolated beach to christen all the more important.
C'est la vie, or such is life as it goes. Yes, this is living. I might not speak French, but I choose to live French even if it's just for the week.
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