Scarlott Letters

Just some stuff I find funny…

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Starfish and Sea-Doos and Stingrays, Oh My!

Boat day finally arrived! If you’ve read my blogs from previous years you know I don’t really swim, and when I say “don’t really” I mean I don’t at all, so you’ll be shocked to know that I channeled my inner Mark Spitz and I was all over the water today. We had a 42′ Sea Ray with a Sea-Doo on the back and two really cute crew, so maybe I just wanted mouth-to-mouth. Our Captain was semi-famous being the grandson of legend Bob Soto who almost single-handedly started the tourist industry on Grand Cayman by opening the first dive shop here in 1957.

Our first stop was Starfish Point. You literally jump off the back, and by “jump” I mean a lift slowly lowers you down into less than 4′ of water. We were allowed to pick the starfish up and handle them as long as we didn’t take them out of the water. We also got to ride the Sea-Doo. Sea-Doos are not really my thing but it was fun watching everyone else. I was content to hang with my new starfish buddies. Denise rode with the Capitain and the louder you scream the faster he goes. She apologized if she grabbed him inappropriately, but she was hanging on for dear life. Everybody kept offering me rides, which I kept turning down. These people just can’t take a hint. Julia said she would go with me and I swear I don’t know what got into me, but I somehow found myself agreeing just to see the look on her face. I don’t know which one of us was more surprised. Not only that but I drove…not as fast as I drive my BMW, but certainly faster than a starfish. 

Next up was snorkeling. I hear it was fabulous with huge lion fish, big coral fans and coral heads. The water was super clear and full of color from fish and the reef. That’s about all I can tell you because all of us non-snorkelers were sitting onboard with a rum and coke.

I know you’re not going to believe this but I went swimming with stingrays, ya’ll. Shut the front door. Stingray City Sandbar was cooler than cool. It was actually only about 3 to 4 feet deep and out in the middle of nowhere. It was weird being so far from land and still be able to stand up, and when I can comfortably stand, you know it’s shallow. The first mate said it was the first time he had ever been there when we were the only boat there. Usually boats are parked like a parking lot, but today we had it all to ourselves. How neat is that? As soon as the boat anchored we were inundated with really big stingrays. We got to feed them big chunks of calamari. Julia almost lost another finger to one. At least it was on the hand where she had a finger to spare.

We had a leisurely ride back to Rum Point. Once back to the house we threw together dinner out of what was left of the food and drank what was left of the drink. Joe said he’s finally found his island chill now that’s it’s time to pack up and go home. It was a great week! It makes me wonder, if you live on Grand Cayman, where do you go on vacation?



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In My Defense

Ok, I know that yesterday’s blog was not up to my usual standards. I’m sure it left you wanting more. In my defense, I just wasn’t feeling it. It might have had something to do with the four drinks I’d had in town. Hemingway’s adage to “write drunk and edit sober” apparently doesn’t apply to me. Even old Ernest probably had a off day occasionally. If he’d been as uninspired as I was, instead of “The Sun Also Rises” you would have been reading “Sun’s Up” in high school.

After breakfast, all the guys and Denise headed out for Rum Point for “ice.” I’m glad Denise went with them as our own private PI, otherwise I’m sure we would never would have heard about the mudslides and how Tres pontificated on at what tonnage a coverup should be required, and further about he wants to open a “fancy ice cream shop like Baskin Robbins” with a narrow door…and if you can’t fit through it, you can’t buy it. He’s only going to sell ice cream to skinny women. Joe told him he would go broke. We haven’t yet given out an Asshat of the Day award on this trip, but that just changed. I may have to strangle him with my coverup.

We sat around the patio retelling old drinking stories and laughing. If your story starts out with, “In my defense…” you know it’s not going to end well. It will, however, most likely be funny to your audience. Let’s just say Denise provided a lot of entertainment.

Tonight we went to a Michelin rated restaurant, Kaibo Upstairs. Getting ready, I asked Joe if he could see any panty lines in my tighter-than-when-we-left-home pants. He suggested I just go commando. He may be on to something as I could probably use the extra room. Dinner was fabulous. We had the 6 course chef’s tasting menu. Not only was the food top notch but the drinks were something else. Joe was drinking martinis made with Monkey 47 gin. He made it through 94 monkeys before he switched to coffee. Dave had this thing called a Smoking Gun, which was made with 23 year old rum and homemade soda syrup. 

It is poured into a decanter where they add smoke with some special contraption. The smoke is captured in the decanter when the bottle is corked. It “adds complexity” to the drink. Tres had rum poured over coconut ice. It might have been our most expensive meal ever, but it it was also our best. All in all a very memorable meal. Walking back into the house I asked Joe if he could cut the button off of my pants. I warned him to stand back when that thing went. In my defense, my pants fit in Texas. It must be the salt air…


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Relaxed to Terrorized in an Hour Flat

I’ll make this short and sweet. Let me start out by saying we are spoiled, and I speak for everyone here. That probably doesn’t come as a shock to anyone who knows us. We had two masseuses come to the house for hour long massages this morning for anyone who wanted one. Almost everyone did. We set up two of the bedrooms facing the water and left the French doors open so you could hear the waves during the massage. It was heaven, however, I may be bruised tomorrow.

Afterwards, we decided to go in to Georgetown to check out some shopping, drinks at a cute English pub and then catch the sunset at the Royal Palms on Seven Mile Beach during dinner. Outstanding! The food and the views can’t be beat. Getting there and back almost undid the mojo I had going from my massage. It’s a tad stressful driving on narrow roads, on the wrong side, with school children walking next to the road, with no shoulder. It’s a nail biter, but our drivers did a great job. The poor little school children won’t ever be the same.

In between the relaxation of the massage and the terror of the drive to town, we tried to get a decent picture of all of us by the pool. Keith’s remote shutter was not working as advertised…or maybe it was operator error…but either way it was pretty comical before we finished. I think we finally got a couple of good shots, but my favorite is Keith trying to get the remote to work. Hope he’s better with the TV.

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No Diarrhea in the Pool

As an insider, I can tell you this is generally not a group of what you would call rule followers. We are actually a bunch of old rebels. I’m probably the most by-the-book person here if that gives you an idea about the rest of our (very) mature miscreants. There is one rule we can all easily agree to follow. On the list of pool rules, one is particularly disturbing. The fifth rule states, and I quote, “DO NOT USE THE POOL IF YOU ARE ILL WITH DIARRHEA.” WTF?? Is this really something that needs to be posted? Does anyone really think, I’ve got a terrible case of raging diarrhea but I feel like a dip this morning? I mean, someone must have for the owners to take the time and effort to put it on a sign. Also, there is no mention of not peeing in the pool, so I guess that is perfectly acceptable. I guess you have to draw the line somewhere and if you had to choose…

Our lawlessness has no bounds. While the pool guy was here this morning, someone spied a couple of kayaks in the pool room. That guy takes his job seriously because Gina was offering him alcohol and no telling what else to give up the location of the key he let slip is hidden somewhere on the premises, and it was a total no go. Gina is famous for being able to talk anyone into anything…flashback back to her hijacking a local to take us to the grocery store on Saturday…but she got no where with this guy. Respect. Gina thinks it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission and “we probably wouldn’t get thrown in jail.” That’s a pretty low bar for what’s appropriate. Because there is no rule posted specifically against the use of the kayaks, Keith thinks they are fair game. I would think the locked door they are behind would be an implied rule, but the entire party is scouring the house for the hidden key and Denise PI is looking for her lock picks. She must have left them at home because I saw someone headed that way with a corkscrew. I don’t have enough bail money for everyone, so you better hope you’re one of my favorites.

The afternoon passed lazily until Julia realized Tres had been gone an hour and a half snorkeling. She walked down the beach one direction and I walked the other way looking for his little pea brained head to hop out of the water somewhere. Julia seemed pretty calm but I was getting a little panicked. By this time, even Joe had joined the search and about the time we all met back at the house, I could see him making his way back in. I’m glad there was a happy ending because that that would have been a bummer of a way to end a heretofore relatively funny blog. 

Tonight’s main course consisted of our contraband filet mignon and it was superb. It’s always the quietest meal of the trip. The only sound is the clink of silverware. It’s that good. After dinner we played Heads Up on the iPad. There are categories and your team has to give you clues to guess the phrase on the iPad you hold above your head. We played the adult version and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a bunch of women trying to give clues for “blue balls.” I almost had tears running down my leg, but I couldn’t remember whether to scratch my leg or squeeze my butt cheeks.



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It’s Nine o’Clock Somewhere

This is our sixth trip to the Caribbean with our friends and we’ve been lucky to have had pretty good weather every year. Today, not so much. This was supposed to be our boat day, but since the waves are big enough to surf we had to reschedule. It was the white caps on the pool that was my first clue that a boat might not be in our future today. That being said, a bad day on Grand Cayman is still better than a good day at the office. I’m sure we will muddle through somehow.

Since we aren’t boating, we drove over to the East End to Eagle Ray’s Dive Shop and Grill. It’s the Caymanian version of a Texas beer and bait shop. There we found lion fish which are beautiful, deadly, over populated and delicious. We had them in tacos and ceviche. I could easily go there again.

On the way back to the house, Gina wanted to crank up some tunes. The next thing I knew she was was searching her playlist for “It’s Nine o’Clock Somewhere.” While the sentiment might be technically correct, her Jimmy Buffet card is revoked. Come to find out, she frequently gets song lyrics confused. I’ll let you use your imagination as to what she thought the lyrics for Uptown Funk were.

This group is a wealth of trivia and useful information. For instance, because of the curve of the earth the furthest you can see looking out at the ocean is 23 miles. You can’t cry if you squeeze your butt cheeks together. If you need to pee, scratch the back of your calf. To head off a fart, jump up and down on one leg, stick your right finger in your left ear, cross your eyes and bark like a dog. It’s these helpful hints that make life so much easier. You are welcome.

This evening, Tres and Keith headed back to the East End for a night dive. I was going to go with them but I left my wet suit at home, plus there’s the minor issue of the no swimming thing. I can do a mean hot tub though. While they were gone we had what Gina considered a pickup meal of bacon wrapped shrimp, coconut shrimp, oven roasted potatoes, squash casserole and chocolate melting pots al la mode. She is making me look bad here. Half the time we have salami, deli ham, cheese and olives and call it good. After dinner, we enjoyed a card game. I’m pretty sure Denise was cheating, probably because she said she was going to cheat until she won. She needs to brush up on her skills because she came in second. Some of the guys enjoyed a Cuban cigar and we called it a night. The day wasn’t planned, but I’ll take one like this anytime.



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It’s Not You, It’s Keith

Pool day did not disappoint. It’s my favorite day so far. I woke up to the smell of bacon cooking, which is always a good thing. It’s hard to have a bad day that starts with bacon and blue water. That was five pounds of luggage weight that was well worth it. I don’t know where in the hell the rest of the crew is going to get their bacon for the next six days.

I am always amazed at the amount of food stuff that is purchased, packed and hauled for our annual trip. Take taco shells. We brought freakin’ taco shells. Who does that? How is it that I can’t seem to get them home from HEB without them being pulverized, but Gina can haul them from Texas to the Caribbean and the edge of one has a little piece missing? It’s a mystery. We, and when I say we I mean Gina, baked ham and cheese sliders for lunch and brought everything from Texas, including the Hawaaian rolls. For the chicken fettuccine tonight, we only had to pick up the cream. We have crackers and snacks of every description, but if I find the person responsible for mixing the M&Ms and hot tamales, I am going to hurt them. I like both, but that’s just not right.

The time in the pool got funnier as the day wore on. It might have had something to do with the fact that every time I found Denise and Gina in the house they were doing a shot. They went in the house a lot. They tried to pull me in as a co-conspirator but I was having none of it. I still haven’t recovered from last year. And Judy, if you’re reading this, they totally threw you under the bus about feeding me shots last year. I want to hear your side of the story, but I suspect they are full of it. 

We covered many topics, some of them not suitable for this forum. Call me if you want details. One of our discussions involved overweight suitcases and why Cheryl packs so many clothes. She dresses according to mood, which as you might suspect is hard to determine in advance. For instance, if she is feeling particularly bitchy she wears her “bitch clothes.” She didn’t really describe what bitch clothes look like, but I assume Keith knows and steers clear if she comes to get her first cup of coffee wearing those. Hell, I’d be changing clothes every fifteen minutes if I dressed according to mood. Plus, why tip Joe off? Let him find out the fun way. 

About mid-afternoon we decided we needed to find the Wreck Bar where the mudslide originated. That particular frozen concoction is 100% alcohol and they find the idea of bastardizing the original with ice cream abhorrent. Kahlua was involved in last year’s debacle so I was emphatic that I wasn’t having one…so, I had two. I don’t know if it was the mudslides or the atmosphere, but best conch fritters ever. Joe forgot his good sunglasses so he wandered off to the gift shop next door to buy a cheap pair. As soon as he left I said, “He’s going to come back with a pair of Maui Jim’s.” He came back with a pair of Maui Jim’s AND a splash guard shirt. Flashback to Midland, packing and staring at six splash guard shirts with the tags still on them, “Don’t let me buy another damn splash guard. I buy one every year and I never wear them.” I’ll be posting a group of seven on eBay next week.

Back at the house it was homemade rum punch with a floater of dark rum on the top. I was having flashbacks to last year so I let mine be poured and just carried it around all night. Others didn’t follow my lead and I’ll just say, you have to watch out for those floaters…floaters and citric acid. One of our group, who shall remain nameless, blamed his shall we say happy state on citric acid. It wasn’t the half dozen different types of alcohol, it was the citric acid. You learn something new everyday. He then went around the table laying the blame on each and everyone of us. My favorite was, “It’s not you, it’s Keith.” We all laughed until we hurt. As one of the wise men of the group said, “You can’t buy this kind of fun, right here.” He’s right. Your soul feels lighter among friends, unless you’ve had too much citric acid. 

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Packing is a Contact Sport

I spent most of yesterday packing for our trip to Grand Cayman. Besides airport security it is my least favorite part of traveling, but until yesterday, I didn’t realize it was a contact sport. The good news is I didn’t break my nose, but I did bloody it. A while back the strap on our luggage scale broke. I had what I thought was a brilliant idea to fix it using a cable tie. I thought they were unbreakable. I was wrong. Don’t the police use those things to restrain 300 pound bad guys? I chose the easiest ones to find, which are the type used to bundle computer cords together, not the type to pick up a 50 pound suitcase. I know now that was a tactical error. I have my newly fixed luggage scale attached to the handle of my suitcase, both hands griping the strap. I jerk upward to lift, unfortunately, the only thing moving is the strap and my fists at 100 mph as the cable tie breaks and I punch myself right in the nose. A friend of mine was impressed I’d managed to hit my nose with both fists. I’m an overachiever. Luckily, nothing was broken and I woke up this morning without a black eye.

One of the advantages of going to Grand Cayman is that there is a direct flight from Dallas and it doesn’t leave until 10:40am. We skipped having to be at DFW at 5 o’clock to catch the early flight to Miami this year. Go us! My euphoria was short lived when I realized we had to catch a 5 o’clock flight out of Midland instead. Bummer. I had to get up at 2:30am to leave the house by 3:45. It was really a toss up whether to go to bed or just stay up.

The Holcombs and Kulbeths arrived at DFW just a few minutes behind us. Given our history, a Bloody Mary seemed just the ticket to kick things off. Not my favorite drink, but at 6:15, surprisingly good. I’m sorry the rest of the group hadn’t arrived because they 

missed a lot of laughter. For instance, I knew that Denise had her PI license but I didn’t know she had her online PI degree and is “pretty sure” she was valedictorian of her class. And Eddie is an ordained minister. I suspect he got his license from the same online outfit. Someone suggested that we could all renew our vows on the beach. I asked Joe if he would marry me all over again. He’s thinking about it.

The flight in was far superior to our regular flight plan from Midland to Dallas, Dallas to Miami, Miami to San Juan, and San Juan to our destination. Getting through customs with over 100 pounds of food in the possession of the only one of us who can’t lie for shit was dicey. We nearly had our good ol’ Texas steaks confiscated. Added to that, the time we saved with the direct flight was eaten up by the rental car place. I think the car rental guy was sweet on Eddie because he called him Care Bear and the name seems to have stuck. Personally, I think he fits the raunchy, beer swilling bear from the “Ted” movie better, but that’s just me.

Gina, Denise and I decided to walk to the grocery store after being assured by the guy running the taxi stand that it was just a ten minute walk. Maybe for him. Of the three of us, I am the tall one. It’s going to take us twice that long…and it’s hot. Gina stopped to ask a woman, who was sitting in a car by the curb, for verification. When she confirmed that it was considerably further than we were originally told, Gina asked her if she would just “drop us by there.” Has she never heard of stranger danger? I’m thinking they are never going to find the bodies. Luckily, we arrived without being sold as sex slaves or having our kidneys floating around on the black market. A fate I might have preferred if I had know what a zoo the grocery store would turn out to be. I won’t say we were stressed out by the time we were ready to head to the house but single beers were being drunk from paper bags. That’s a special kind of stressed right there. 

The house is awesome! Julia outdid herself again. It’s tradition to spend the day after our travel day hanging at the house and lounging by the pool and basically eating and drinking ourselves into some funny stories. It’s become one of our favorite days.