A Lovely Cruise
Oscar Wilde believed that life imitates art much more often than art imitates life. In his 1889 essay “The Decay of Lying,” he wrote, “The self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and . . . Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realise that energy.”
I haven’t read enough to come to my own conclusion on the matter. But I know this: last week, my life imitated a couple of Jimmy Buffett songs.
My grandmother, who is 86 years old and known to almost everyone as “Nanny,” has had a few bouts with cancer. The most recent necessitated surgery last October, and the women in my family promised her a girls’ trip when she recovered. When I visited her two days after the surgery, my mom pointed out the new suitcase Nanny had purchased for the trip.
So last week, my sister and mother and I took her on a Caribbean cruise. We left from my house in St. Augustine, and I went through my usual routine of attempting to sneak my suitcases past my dogs. Pancho, my three-legged Australian Shepherd, wasn’t fooled, and in my run to the car, I turned my ankle. Thankfully, the ankle was fine, but my flip flop was not.
Yes, I blew out my flip flop.
And because I couldn’t return home to grab another pair, I fixed it with duct tape and ended up wearing a pair of duct-taped, blown-out flip flops to the original Margaritaville on Duval Street in Key West. Jimmy Buffett himself couldn’t have written that one better.
We left Margaritaville and made our way down Duval Street toward the ship. One member of our party (all I’ll say is that it wasn’t Nanny) got a little confused about what time we had to be back at the ship and began hurrying the rest of the party. When another person mentioned that Nanny might be getting tired, the person in a hurry decided we should rent a pedicab. An argument ensued over whether or not four grown women with a combined weight of easily 500 pounds would fit in a 2-seat pedicab. “Maybe with a shoehorn,” a smart-ass member of the group snorted. And that, my friends, is where Jimmy Buffett song number two happened in my life that day. Again, I won’t name names, but I witnessed “A Woman Going Crazy on Caroline Street.”
Two days later, on Wednesday, February 9, we celebrated my birthday at the Margaritaville on Grand Cayman Island. At 9:50 a.m., I ordered a Landshark (a personal best record, but don’t judge — it was my birthday). The waitress said, “I don’t think we carry Landshark any more.” I was stunned because Jimmy Buffett owned Landshark Lager when it first came out in 2006, and it has been the house beer at Margaritaville every since.
“How can you not have Landshark?” I asked. Sweet Katherine, our waitress, shrugged and told me it had been removed from the menu. But she offered to go see if they had any left.
And here’s where my life sort of imitated Jimmy Buffett song number three: I didn’t have the “Last Mango in Paris,” but that waitress found me a Landshark, and I actually had the last Landshark in Cayman. Pretty nifty, huh?
The cruise wasn’t really about me, even though it happened during my birthday week. It was about Nanny, so I must report what she would consider to be one the highlights of the trip, even though it is terribly embarrassing for me. Okay, for her it was THE highlight, the one thing that made her deliriously happy and giggly. On my birthday, she and my mother sneaked into my cabin and left a birthday gift in my bed. The picture says it all:
Thankfully, there are no Jimmy Buffett songs about finding an inflatable doll in your bed on your birthday. But I suppose if Jimmy ever writes one, that would be a case for art imitating life.
Still — three Buffett songs in one week is pretty darn impressive.
Hell, I guess we need to make it four. Because here are the words to one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs, one called “Lovely Cruise.” For the rest of my life, when I hear these lyrics, I’m going to think of my Nanny:
These moments we’re left with
May you always remember
These moments are shared by few
And those harbor lights
Aw they’re coming into view
We bid our farewell much too soon
So drink it up
This one’s for you
Honey, it’s been a lovely cruise
Yea baby, it’s been a lovely cruise
Oh darlin’ it’s been a lovely cruise