Monday, July 25, 2011

The Breakfast Club

Well, did you miss me?  Sorry I've been a little lax with the posts recently, but I have a REALLY good excuse.  I was preparing for, then actually taking part in our yearly pilgrimage to Key West!  Oh, how I love the Conch Republic!  Alan and I have vacationed there just about every July for the last ten years.  The place kinda gets under you skin, you know?

I've written about the Keys more than once in this blog, often mentioning my attraction to it's quirky, eclectic people, it's rich, storied history, it's free-roaming chickens and roosters, and it's nightly magical sunsets that would make even the most stringent atheist believe in God.  I can't seem to get enough of it.  This year's visit was no exception, and we've returned sun-kissed and key lime pie-filled!

But I must tell you, the last few years my Key West euphoria has been mixed with a little melancholy. The cute little motel in which we used to stay (cheap rates, small rooms, but a GREAT pool!) was purchased a few years back by the monstrous, big-name hotel next door.  They immediately flattened the structure and added on to their own behemoth building.  And just like that, another tiny part of Key West's charm was swallowed up.

But it's not necessarily the the little motel that I miss.  It's the mornings Alan and I spent enjoying breakfast on the patio of their sweet diner, located in front of the building.  It wasn't anything special, just your basic eggs and bacon kind of joint.  But sitting on that patio in the early morning, when the temperature was still tolerable and the bougainvillea was just beginning to sparkle under the morning sun, was priceless.  We'd watch the Key West citizens riding by on their bikes on their way to work, off to spend another day selling sea shells and straw hats to tourists.

But even the eggs and the view weren't my favorite part of our mornings on that patio.  It was the opportunity to watch them.  They were a sweet older retired couple, possibly in their late sixties, who ate breakfast together on that patio every morning.  They always sat at the same table, which was permanently saved for them with a sign that read, "Reserved for The Breakfast Club."

The two never had to place their order, because they ate the same thing every morning.  As soon as they sat down, the waiter would bring their steaming plates to the table with a "Good Morning!"  They'd turn and smile at him, return his greeting, and then ask him about how  things were going at his second job.  They'd have a brief conversation, then the waiter would drop the check on the table, give both their shoulders a squeeze, then leave with a "See you tomorrow morning!"

I don't know what it was about that couple that made me want to stare.  I think it was just the loveliness about them.  They would sit so contentedly with one another, two old souls that had shared a lifetime, and now didn't need to speak with words.  They'd eat quietly, holding hands, occasionally looking up to wave at familiar faces passing by.  When they did speak to each other, it was always done quietly, but with such loving looks on their faces. They always greeted Alan and I as we arrived on the patio, and even offered some suggestions for good places to eat and visit while we were on the island.

I found myself wanting to get up early every day of our vacation so I could be on that patio when The Breakfast Club would arrive.  I liked being near them, and imagining that someday Alan and I could still be that much in love.

I think about that couple every time we're back in Key West.  I wonder if they've found a new place to resume their Breakfast Club routine, and if they still sit and hold hands and smile at one another as sweetly as they did back then.  Oh, I hope so!

By the way, did I mention that this couple was two gay men?  Yes, this sweet, devoted senior couple enjoying their golden years in the company of their one true love was not a man and a woman.  This sweet, devoted, loving couple was two men.  See the difference?

Yeah, me neither...

Thanks for Reading!!

22 comments:

karena said...

True love is a beautiful thing...no matter the gender. Loved this story, and you've piqued my interested in Key West...never been there, but you've made it sound lovely. Shame about your favorite spot being run over by the corporate guys...when will they finally get that these are the places of character people long for. Nice post.

Denise said...

Awwww, that's such a lovely post with a sweet twist to the ending. Love's love and people's people, that's what I say. I have only been to Key West once, about five years back now. What a great vacation that was. It's calling me, do believe we should go back. I remember the beautiful colors, remember walking up all those wonderful little side streets, one house with a huge gecko metal sculpture on the wall. Remember the people, the birds, oh how I loved those birds, and other wildlife, the chickens running around my feet, Hemingways House and all the cats, the lighthouse viewed from the balcony, the sunsets. Oh my, time to go back I think. Thanks for such a great post and welcome home.

Denise said...

Also meant to say how sorry I was that you lost your your beautiful spot to have breakfast. We've said a few goodbyes ourselves to those places we hold dear, only to be replaced by the behemoths. Progress? I don't think so.

Shady Del Knight said...

What a great punchline, Joanie! I didn't see it coming but it was a very clever way to remind us that discrimination against gays and lesbians still exists in this country and that love, marriage, and breakfast clubs should not be reserved exclusively for heterosexual couples. Mrs. Shady and I vacationed in Key West in June of 2004 and there was a gay pride festival going on the week we were down there. For me to even have to write that I didn't feel the least bit uncomfortable amid the parades and celebrations is a sad commentary on the paranoia that many straight people experience when they have a close encounter with members of the gay community.

I agree with you that old Key West needs to be preserved. If too many modern hotels are erected it will lose its charm and there will be no point in visiting. I loved eating breakfast every morning on the shady patio at the rear of the place where we stayed. It was so cozy, ringed by tall palms and lush tropical plants. I enjoyed eating lunch while those chickens and roosters circled the table hoping that I'd toss a scrap of food their way. I enjoyed being at the monument that told me I was standing the southern most spot of the USA. I enjoyed the boat ride out to the fort on the Tortugas. Thanks for bringing back memories of my own good times, Joan, and for giving us all a lesson in tolerance!

jel said...

WOW, DID YOU take shot of the sunrise?

glad ya got to go ;)

it's been 9years since we been on one.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

GREAT story.

Love shouldn't be defined by others.
I have that love and I wish everyone who wants it to receive it!!

do cats still roam about everywhere?
Went there once and didn't go back because of the cats - since I have an enormous fear.

It was a magical place though.

Linda Myers said...

Wonderful story! Thanks.

Eva Gallant said...

What a great post. I agree...you have to admire and respect love, no matter who's in it!
I have never been to Key West, but that's on our bucket list for when Mr. Eva finishes his chemotherapy. We plan to drive there from Maine and enjoy both the destination and the jouney!

Eva Gallant said...

shoot...that was journey!

ReformingGeek said...

Oh, so pretty! I love this story.

Yep. Not only was it love, but respect. You're right. Gender does not matter.

I'm glad you had a nice time.

Pearl said...

Welcome back and thanks for such a sweet story.

And it is sad, isn't it, when little pieces of such quaint areas are gobbled up and big-businessed...

Pearl

blueviolet said...

It hurts to see the big corps swallow up all that gives uniqueness and charm to things. :(

I am so touched by couples who remain loving like that, so I think I would miss those two very much as well!

Pastor Sharon said...

Oh I loved the journey of this story the whole way through. I felt my heart at the table reserved for the "breakfast club". Then when you spilled the beans about it being a gay couple, I cried.
My partner and I celebrated 20 years together this year. And God willing, one day, she and I will have our own breakfast club at the local diner.
I just love this story, Joanie! Thanks for sharing. And my heart is sad that you guys and the breakfast club aren't able to enjoy the quaint place that used to hold such magic and nostalgia in the mornings.

Red Shoes said...

I want to go to Key West... I love the kind of places of which you write... and which are destroyed to make room for a more antiseptic structure that doesn't even have a smidgen of the same fun... :o(

I liked the end to the story of the Breakfast Club...

I hope all is well with you...

~shoes~

Looking for Blue Sky said...

Delighted you're back and with such a heart-warming post. And that photograph is just gorgeous, hope you're keeping well xx

Teresa Evangeline said...

You look so beautiful in that soft turquoise. The perfect sea color. And I love your story. Love is love and that's that.

Debbie(single;complicated) said...

Love this post!! I want that one day..I want the 'breakfast club' with someone...!!

christopher said...

Very well said...nice post.

Cheeseboy said...

I hate when charm is replaced with obtusity. Bummer. But I am very jealous of your Key West vacation. Somewhere I have always wanted to go.

Erika said...

I am so sorry to hear about your little motel. What a bummer! Sounds like "The Breakfast Club" would have been really charming to have seen.

FRANNIE said...

It's so wonderful to hear stories like that, about the places you've been but it's really the people that bring you back time and again.

Jean Maurie (angelsloveyou) said...

Oh such a sweet story! I so loved Key West and had a fantasy about owning a bed and breakfast down there. Thank you for posting this, I enjoyed reading it :)

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