Repelling Gay Suitors and Eating Aligators
By-Rick A. Griffith
It was about 6:00 pm and I was trekking my way down Fort Lauderdale beach for an evening of exploration. About a mile from my hostel, off of North Ocean Blvd and right across the street from the beach, I stopped for a moment to take in the site of the Atlantic Ocean crashing into the white beach.
Greg, a middle aged guy approached and introduced himself,. “You out here on vacation?” he asked. “Yea, I’m actually making my way down to South America, this happens to be my first stop.” I replied.
Greg was tall, slight of build and seemed nice enough. He explained that he was from Chicago and work had brought him down as it had many times before. He seemed like a genuinely decent and harmless guy, just looking for a conversation on the beach. He quickly gave me the 5 minute synopsis of Fort Lauderdale and recommended a beach bar a few miles down the road. “Thanks, ya I’ll check it out” I said, excited to settle down a bit with a beer on the beach. “I’m heading that way now actually if you’d like a ride, it’s quite a walk.” He offered.
Hmm… Now my mom taught me to never get in a car with strangers, however I was wearing flip flops and figured a ride at least one way would save me some blisters. Plus if he was a weirdo, I could take him, he was just a little fellow.
Greg described the night life of Fort Lauderdale, also including the local Thai massage places that stay open all night and provide additional assistance. “I don’t know your orientation, but they have both men and women masseuses.” He added. Umm ok? Was this his way of asking if I was gay? Or was he just a nice guy with a passion for happy endings, trying to give what he thought was genuinely good advice. After all Fort Lauderdale does have a large gay population and maybe he was just trying to be sensitive.
I shrugged it off and figured I was almost to the bar, as long as he didn’t try to make out with me, I was ok. We pulled up to the bar across the street from the beach and perched up on the second floor. It was an open air bar, quite the setting even though the wind was blasting through. “I think I’ll come up and have a beer with you before I go all the way back to my hotel, do you mind?” he asked. What could I really say? After all he had just given me a ride here, I might as well have a beer with the guy. “Oh of course not, no prob.” I answered.
One beer turned into two, which he graciously picked up the tab for. Our conversation ranged from my travels, to his work, to the weather. I was getting less nervous. “Know of any good restaurants around here?” I questioned. “Oh ya Mangos is awesome down on Las Ollas Blvd, there’s a lot of great spots down there.” “You’re not gonna go out and eat alone are ya, I mean I’ll join ya?” he exclaimed. I was kind of looking forward to a dinner alone to be honest, but the guy had just bought me two beers and appeared to be one of those guys who wouldn’t eat at a restaurant alone. “Umm ya sure that’s cool I guess.” I said reluctantly. “Great, the only thing is I’m all grimy from the beach, do you mind if I shower at your place, I can’t go out like this? He said as if on cue. “Umm I guess… well oh I forgot, the hostel said I can’t have any guests I’m sorry” I said with relief, thank god I remembered the hostels policy sheet. Horrible visions of Greg trying the after shower towel drop in front of me, followed by me punching him and running like hell, raced through my head. I shivered, not from the wind blowing by, but from of being thoroughly disturbed.
Now if a girl I met on the beach asked to come by and shower at my place before dinner, I could care less about a hostel policy, I’ll pay the fine. But it was beginning to look like this guy wanted more than a drinking buddy.
An awkward silence with little chatter followed. Eventually getting the hint that I didn’t want a man friend for the evening, Greg excused himself and left. I was admittedly a bit shaken for an hour or so. I’m not real homo phobic but then again no guy has tried to pick me up before and it was, a pretty odd experience.
Eventually the night improved as happy hour came and I met some new friends, these ones weren’t trying to pick me up luckily. I guess I can understand a bit better now why girls can be so blatantly rude when being approached by men. A little bit at least.
I met Ken from New Jersey who was in Fort Lauderdale on business, a seminar at the hotel down the road. After commenting on the cuteness of the female bartender, I was relieved to be sitting next to this guy. We talked for an hour or so and I learned a bit about the Jersey Shore, stuff not shown on the MTV series thankfully. I asked the waitress about the gator bites, more curious than interested. Immediately my new friend hi-jacked the conversation,”It’s this guys last night in America, get him some gator on me!” he yelled. I laughed and accepted his offer,
I was making out pretty good tonight. Plus this guy didn’t even have ulterior motives. The gator was a bit chewy and gamey, not quite something I’d order again, but something I’m glad I can say I tried. We exchanged information, as Ken had said he’d like to follow my blog, then he headed out.
After talking with an Alaskan named Tim about his upcoming volunteer work in Key West and letting him know my plans, he gave me his card and told me to send him a link. I was gaining followers like crazy tonight. After another $2 Miller light I decided that 8 beers was enough and headed back to the Hostel. After all it was a 2 mile walk and I was pleasantly drunk.
I debated a swim, but decided it might not be the best of ideas with my current BAC level (I found out the next day that there was also a shark warning in effect). I walked the beach route instead of the sidewalk, which was much slower, but also very surreal. In my opinion there is really nothing like a beach at night. The sound of the dark waves capped in white crashing ashore, creates quite the ambiance for a nighttime stroll. Being a night person, this was something that I wish I could get used too, well, with the exception of the gay guy hitting on me and then me drinking 8 beers, but the walk, definitely.
My trip had gotten off to quite a start. I’d met great new friends, repelled my first gay suitor, trekked the beach at twice the legal limit and most importantly survived Fort Lauderdale. So far quite a productive trip.