THE SECRET IS FINDING THE BEST SEATS IN THE KEYS
~ Originally Published in the 6/17/16 Edition of The Reporter in the Florida Keys ~
A hygrometer is used to measure the amount of humidity in the atmosphere. Here in the Keys, don’t waste your time with a hygrometer – just look at my hair. If my hair has the shape of cotton candy, it’s deathly humid and hot outside. Hence, a much easier method than using a hygrometer.
It’s always warm here, but at this time of year, locals begin shifting into survival mode like animals in a jungle when they sense a predator approaching. If we want to continue living - in the Keys - we must be sharp and adapt, utilizing strategic skill sets to make life bearable. One of these skills is finding the coolest seating area or location wherever we go.
Here are some examples:
#1 Seating in Cars.
Instead of jumping in the car naively and searing any exposed skin, locals know to cautiously lean into the car and carefully start it without touching any boiling hot surface area. It’s similar to a yoga position called the Balancing Stick Pose where you stand on one leg, straighten and lift the other leg up to get balance as you reach in and stretch around the steering wheel to start the car, then crank the a/c on. Do not get in the car until it’s cool inside. Yoga car-starting might be difficult for those of us with stiffer bodies but, again a necessary survival skill. So limber up.
If you’re not the driver, the addendum to this rule is to grab the closest seat to the air conditioner vent, i.e. the front passenger seat. DO NOT dawdle or you’ll get stuck in the back seat of the car. It could be worse… on a mini-van, sometimes they even have three rows of seating. Honestly, if you’re bumped to that last row, I’d abort the ride altogether. It is rumored the North Vietnamese created the sweatbox at the Hanoi Hilton to simulate a minivan’s third row seating area.
#2 Seating by Pools.
No matter how hot it is outside and how tempting the pool water looks, your first priority in a public pool is to find a lounge chair near an umbrella. Also choose one that is a fair distance from the pool so your book and phone don’t get soaked, but close enough to prevent the bottoms of your feet from blistering as you walk the distance from your chosen chair to the pool throughout the day.
Even if you’re the first person at the pool, do not skip this step and throw your towel on a random table somewhere. By the time you surface from your first swan dive, the pool will be packed and your chance of ever finding a lounge chair has disappeared and you’ll be frying, on the pool’s edge, with a soggy book and thoughtless kids splashing you. And, to make matters worse, swimming suit bottoms snag on the rough pool edges. Your new $80 suit will look like you sat on a cheese grater.
#3 Seating on Boats. When you get on a boat with a group of people, it’s a lot like playing musical chairs. If you don’t grab a good seat before the boat starts, you’re forced to sit on the white cooler at the front or back of the boat for the entire ride. It doesn’t matter if someone momentarily moves from a prize seat… no one is allowed to ever take that seat over once it was initially claimed. No one.
What is considered a good boat seat? First priority is to find a seat with a cup holder. Even if you’re able to slam a beer every five minutes, there are times when you’ll want to put that beer down, guaranteeing a major wave will follow, resulting in the beer dumping out all over the boat. It’s a total waste and you’ll have to bug the poor sap sitting on the cooler to pass you another beer.
The second priority is to find cushioned vs. hard plastic seats. This makes a huge difference by the end of a rough day on rocky water. Rigid seats on a bad boating day is like galloping full speed on a horse – bareback.
Finally, ALWAYS get the seat under the Bimini Top. I know the purpose of getting on a boat is to enjoy the sunny day, but ten minutes exposed to sun and salt water, you’ll need a reprieve. If you don’t initially grab a seat under the shade, you’re going to be standing next to the captain for the rest of the trip. It’s not easy to look relaxed holding onto your drink while clutching on to anything with your other hand and standing funny with your toes gripping onto the slippery floor.
***If you do get stuck with the cooler seat, remember it is not bolted down so position yourself to hold on to the side of the boat. Also, if you have time before the boat gets underway, check to see if the cooler has a split top – meaning it can open on either side. If so, organize the drinks inside the cooler so that the beers will be under the OTHER slow-seater person. This way they’ll have to be the ones constantly getting up to get the next beer for everyone. Yes, there’s even a hierarchy on the crappy cooler seats.
#4 SEATING ANYWHERE IN THE KEYS.
The golden rule is to FIND THE A/C VENT. No matter where you are, in your friend’s house, at a restaurant, in the hallway, at a bar, in the bathroom – basically anywhere. Just find the vent and, again, take possession of that seat. Once claimed… DO NOT MOVE.
Remember to stay at the top of the food chain during these brutal summers and fight to find a cool spot. Bare your teeth and growl, if necessary. In my case, I’ve found bulging my eyes and turning my cotton candy frizzed head to face them straight on seems to work. One look at me, and the sweaty challenger always backs away in fear.
Remember, only the fastest, frizziest and coolest will survive these summers.