This blog entry was supposed to be about sobriety. How in an effort to embrace my teetotaling heritage rather than fight it, I would abstain from alcohol, caffeine and meat whilst in Florida.
One day in, and I’m failing.
I started auspiciously. When I stayed here a year or so ago just before my walk across Spain, I walked everyday to the neighborhood Starbucks. It didn’t become exactly a community, but they knew me and I knew them.
When I arrived this morning after being absent more than a year and a half, Laurie greeted me: “Hello, Jonathan. Would you like your regular?” Somethings don’t change, but my regular would: “An iced grande soy chai, por favor.” This drink, I understand has less caffeine than a latte and more protein.
Later, on the way to Rotary Club, I spotted a Zywiec branded umbrella along US 41 and thought that that was surely a place I should know. After learning about how Rotarians are eradicating Polio and a quick visit to the library to gather references for my new vegan/vegetarian diet, I made my way to the Zywiec umbrella where I discovered the charming “European Bakery.” (Yes, that’s its name.) Red leather chairs on the terrace. A player piano inside. Marta thought my ability to count to three in Polish was charming. Amber, the only other patron, a native of Belize and employee by Naples’ coolest shopping emporium Food & Thought, kept me company as I drank less beer than I normally would in the middle of the afternoon at a European salon.
Then, things went really down hill when I decided to check out the new bar at the old Baptist church downtown. (Literally, you can now go to the first Baptist church in Naples, the third oldest building in Naples, and order a drink. The irony is almost as sweet as my gimlet was.)
The bar started to fill and I lingered. Soon, a woman of a certain Neapolitan age robed in an animal print of some sort sidled up next to me. She described herself as the Queen of Naples, and judging by how many people in the restaurant did not know who she was I’m inclined to believe her.
We ordered more drinks. She made an appointment for me to get my hair cut the next day. I ordered a hamburger. A retired military astrophysicist, tortoise shell glasses, cashmere sweater, plaid shorts, argued to me his belief in paranormal activity for 15 min.
When my father eventually picked me up after church choir rehearsal, I somehow found myself without a bill to pay and more cash in my pocket. Also, caffeine, alcohol and red meat in my system.
I’m not sure I can say I failed, when I met the Queen.