Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Kiss of Death

In September 1999, Tropical Storm Harvey was in the Gulf of Mexico and his projected path was heading directly towards the Tampa Bay area. Harvey had sustained winds of 55 MPH and there was conjecture that before landfall (after passing through warmer water) that he would become a Hurricane.

They posted a voluntary evacuation for the barrier islands, such as Treasure Island. By the next morning they would know more and there was a possibility that it would be upgraded to a mandatory evacuation.

At this time, I was lusting after a beautiful young cocktail waitress that I worked with several nights per week. She was also a model and an actress. But the only paying work that she was getting was in local television commercials and catalog modeling. She had started working at my place of employment, in July, because she had just broken up with her boyfriend who was paying her rent. He was 3 years younger and she was 21 years younger than me. It was obvious that she went for older gentlemen.

I digress, back to Tropical Storm Harvey.

It was a Tuesday night and Harvey was still about 90 miles offshore. The winds were coming from the southwest at 15MPH. It had been a gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky, and it was topped off by a beautiful sunset.

Shortly before sunset I received a telephone from the lovely young cocktail waitress asking me if I would join her at one of my favorite watering holes. One of her favorite one-man-bands was performing there that evening; he did a lot of late sixties, early seventies music and southern rock.

I jumped at the opportunity to be with her. I showered, change clothes and walked the quarter mile to the bar. She was there when I arrived. She lived a half mile from the bar (a quarter mile from my apartment) and had taken a taxi (the intelligent drinkers always took a cab) to the watering hole. The Treasure Island Police Department’s motto was “Come on vacation, leave on probation.”

We left the bar at one in the morning, she had decided, rather than take a taxi back, she would walk home; she needed the fresh air. Being the gentleman that I am, I said that I would walk there with her and then walk back to my apartment.

About half way back to my apartment the winds suddenly picked up force and were gusting up to 35MPH. Then the rain came, not heavy rains, but substantial. The rain was coming at us at a 45 degree angle to the ground; right into our faces. The rain and the sand stung our faces and our arms and legs.

It took us about 6 minutes (normally 2 minute walk) to walk the remaining 1/8 mile to my apartment. We were soaked. When we arrived I told her that I would call a taxi for her. She asked if I had any clothes that she could wear and if she could take a shower to wash the sand off of her body. I said sure and gave her a tee shirt and a pair of sweatpants.

While she was in the shower I began to write an email to my friends describing the events of that night. I went into detail about the storm and what I had experienced on the walk home. I’m a slow typist and after a half hour had passed I noticed that she hadn’t come back into the living room. I went to check and found her asleep in my bed. Being the consummate gentleman, I didn’t join her in my bed: I slept on the sofa The main reason for my action was to avoid the risk of losing her trust in the early stages of our relationship. All relationships are based on a matter of trust.

The next morning TS Harvey turned to the south and she took a taxi home.

End of story.

And now, at long last, I’m getting to the point of this Blog, which the Blog title refers to.

The next day I received several emails commenting about what I had written about my experience with Harvey the night before. There were Kudos, Kudos and even more Kudos. One email reader proclaimed me to be the next Hemingway (one of my all-time favorite authors).

For me, this was the “Kiss of Death”.

How could I ever live up to this standard again? I had reached my pinnacle and there was nowhere to go but down. Although I enjoyed the praise, I knew that it was a hindrance and not helpful thing.

Well it’s happened again, this time via a comment made to my last Blog.

My good friend Richard Feder comments:
“This is one of your best tales. It has drama, humor, and last, but not least, pathos.”

Once again I get the “Kiss of Death”.

The Beach Bum

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