Monday, October 01, 2007

When in Rome...

I think it was about noon on Friday when I figured it out. I was out walking down Duval Street with Drizz. We had just finished breakfast and were enjoying the warm weather and checking out the surroundings. We had just passed a bar named The Bull. Some lady was out front and had handed us coupons for 2 for 1 margaritas. The time (I believe) was somewhere around 11 am. The bar had a couple people in it and an Elvis impersonator singing. I thought it was strange that they would be paying someone to be on stage singing before it was even noon. Drizz would then mention something about getting a drink soon. Yep, something seemed strange about this place they call Key West.

We headed further down street until we came to Sunset Pier. The gang had met up there last night as everyone slowly got into town. Since I had seen it and had liked Drizz's idea of a drink, I steered him towards the Hogsbreath Saloon. Captain and Cokes seemed perfect for the time and the weather. We grabbed a stool and had a the first one of the day.

Soon we would move on to the next place. We came upon Sloppy Joe's and Irish Kevins. Since we had been in those places on Thursday night, I figured some other place would be better. Standing on the corner looking at Sloppy Joe's, I looked to the right and realized the next stop had to be Captain Tony's, the original Sloppy Joe's. Having heard of how Ernest Hemmingway spent many a day in Sloppy Joe's, it made sense to experience both of them. And no, I didn't sit in Hemmingway's barstool. All the bar stools had names of famous people on them. I ended up sitting on a seat that came close to BadBlood's name. I will need to show him the picture. No, not of me sitting but of the bar stool.

As we sat in Captain Tony's drinking another C&C, the bartender kept mentioning about how slow it was. It was just before noon and he was complaining about how his bar wasn't jumping. It had me a bit confused. What was going on here.

It was at a sports bar called Big Uns that I figured it out. We were walking by and noticed this big empty bar (by the way, I believe all the bars are open window bars, no doors, just wide open to the street). There is a hot blonde babe behind the bar and some old guy in the front. The old guy noticed us looking in and says to come on in, they won't bit. Unless we want them to. I asked if I could pick who would get to do the biting as I winked at the hot bartender. We grabbed a stool and started talking with her as the old guy disappeared. It was just past 12:15 and I was having my third drink of the day. It was then that it hit me. I knew why Al and his merry crew hit up Key West each year. I sum it up like this:

If you want to gamble, you go to Vegas.
If you want to relax, enjoy beautiful weather and drink like a fish, you go to Key West.

Key West is a drinker's paradise. Bars close at 4 and open around 9. There is no open container law. You can grab your drink and head outside and walk down to the next bar. No one will say anything. The worst is that a bouncer may make you finish your drink before you can come into their establishment. Otherwise, just like the wild roosters roaming the streets, you can do close to anything.

I can't tell you what a relief it was to come to that epiphany. I had finally placed my finger on what made Key West different. It seemed that Big Uns was close to the perfect place for me in that town. Here was hot bartender serving me beer, there were nice TVs showing baseball and football footage, and they were cranking out 80s metal. I could have spent the entire day there. And had I gotten bored at any point, I could have wandered up to the Teasers, the strip club upstairs. This location had it all.

I could have stayed all day but decided to join with the others at the Hemmingway house. A bit of history and culture can't hurt. Worth it just to see the 6 toed cats. It was on the Al's house for some drinking and poker and then off to the turtle races.

Yep, a bar had turtle races. Turtle Kraals has turtle races twice a week. Since Friday was one of the days, some degenerate gambler(s) decided to go and place some wages. I can declare with 100% certainty that the races are rigged. Just before the turtles were placed in the gate for the race, I asked the announcer if he had any inside info. Take #3 was the answer. Sure enough, #3 won.

From there it was back to Big Uns and other stuff. At some point it all became a blur.

But it was a nice blur to have. Big thanks again to Al for the invite. Had a blast and will have to do it again. I am already working up a plan for 2008.

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