Monday, April 25, 2005

Lizard Licks

This is an excerpt from a book I haven't read yet, "Lizard Licks" by Judi Bradford, a long-time Key West resident, author and artist.

"In all, Key West is a phenomenon that is as mystical as it is beautiful. It is a true retreat from the ?real world.? The island is a microcosm of the American ?melting pot? theory. Black and white, Asian and Anglo, sophisticated and primitive, we pretty much look at each other as Key Westers (by degree of course, ?fifth generation Conch,? ?third generation Conch,? ?freshwater Conch? for Gen 1).

Although we are being mainlandized (not to mention air-conditioned), we all wear clothes dictated by the weather, including functional, if often goofy-looking hats, and silly shoes.

The essence of Key West, however, is present in everyone who finds a way to make it here -- and there are some tricks to sticking a landing in the last resort. There needs to be a willingness to abdicate from the mall mentality, a need for a clear view of the horizon, and an affection for smallnesses -- and eccentricities. A sense of not-fitting-in with the mainstream is often transformed here.

The best example of this is a conversation my husband and I had at a cruise ship dinner table during the ?80s. A midwestern couple was fascinated with Key West. When they discovered we were residents, they inquired if it was really as far out as they had heard.

I blithely answered ?No, it seems quite normal to me.? My husband then gently pointed out that our pal, sunset performer Love 22, was taking care of our cats while we were gone; our circle of friends included professional clowns Bounce the Clown and Mademoiselle Oo La La; I was
openly known as ?the Lizard Lady.? He also recalled our wedding in ankledeep water with windsurfers, clowns, square-dancers, fire-eaters, wirewalkers, veterans, socialites and politicos attending -- and South Carolina relatives.

Clearly I had lost my perspective. Lost perspectives is what Key West is all about, though. This is not the mainland. Key West is a unique island with a population of emigres from foreign countries, the corporate world, the temperate zone and the mainstream blended in with the practical and hardy natives. Its a recipe for eccentricity and, fortunately, one of the main spices is humor.

She lives in The Real Key West.

I just downloaded an electronic copy of her book for $3.95.

1 comment:

Judi said...

Thanks for the mention. It has been a while since I read that passage . It's just as true now as it was then!--

Judi Bradford

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