~ TALES OF THE KWFL ~
in latitudes, changes in attitudes
"To La Vie Dansant! "
We raised our glasses and spilled Key Lime margaritas on the deck of our new flagship as Bob watched curiously from the water below. The mangroves rang with steel drum music and parrotthead laughter. We partied late, knowing that tomorrow the hard work would begin.
And hard work it was. Cleanup was the first order of business. La Vie Dansant had been a neglected lady for a long time. Below decks, beginning with the galley and the head, continuing through the living quarters and on into the pilot's house, we landlubbers scrubbed floors and walls, washed windows, and cleaned out storage areas. Up top, there were decks to be swabbed and brass to be polished. And we learned as we worked; while most of us knew bow from stern and port from starboard, we had to be told that a sheet was not a sail but a line, which was what we had always thought of as a rope, and other such arcane sealore. The more knowledgeable among us took down rotting sails and lines and inventoried them for replacement, oiled pulleys and rebolted loose cleats, reviewed charts and logs, recalibrated or replaced the instruments in the pilot room and added new ones, and reworked the engine. And everyone lent a hand when it came to painting and re-rigging.
Through all the work, we sang our new theme song, which Bob Robinson had written for us, to the tune of CIACIL:
We took off for
the Florida Keys
changes in scenery, Changes in greenery
travel section in some big newspaper
I feel my
attitude engaging this latitude
I dream about
Key West when I'm quaffing Coronas
You'll be chock
full of gratitude when you feel the solitude
The work went quickly and soon, our lady of the seas was presentable again. It was time to open our gates to guest parrottheads.
The Pirate Parrott Boathouse Beach and Bar was wildly successful. Without formal advertising, simply through word-of-mouth, our mailboxes online and at the end of the drive filled with requests to "visit," our parking lot filled with unfamiliar vehicles, and the bungalows not permanently occupied were shared between our part-time residents and our guests.
A good time was had by all, residents and guests alike. La Vie Dansant took us out onto the Gulf waters, while the Conch Queen opened the waterways of the mangrove swamps and our sister Keys to us. Mayday taught classes about the wildlife, Gardner gave lessons on the native plants, and Desdemona and I shared the history of the Keys themselves, with our visiting parrottheads and their 'keets. We played softball, volleyball and croquet on the big lawn, enjoyed computer games and online chats on the workstations in the common room, and concert videos on the video system, all to the sounds of Sumo's in-house radio station. Des, Kim, and Raven taught our guests how to make Key Lime pies and cookies in Jimmy's Buffett and the rest of us were happy to test the results.
In the evenings, we enjoyed the same rousing debates that had once taken place on alt.fan.jimmy-buffett, although now face to face, over margaritas on the upper deck. Was Jimmy's music still as good as it had always been? What was the definition of a True Parrotthead? What were the best concert venues, and the worst concert-goers, we'd ever seen? Did we detest scalpers too much to use them to buy group seating at the next Tampa concert? Had Buffett gone commercial on us? And, most important of all, would Jimmy sue us?
We all laughed at this. Had we known that the question was becoming less rhetorical every day, we might have enjoyed our margaritas less. Or at least drunk more of them!
The man behind the desk didn't look up. "Go 'way," he said, distracted.
"Boss, it's important. It's about that bunch on Key Lime Key."
Looking up from the computer screen, the blond man scowled at his visitor.
"What's the matter? Are they using my name?"
"Well, yes, but not in any way that we can demonstrate as trademark infringement."
"Are they using any of my song titles?"
"No ... not in their advertising, anyway. As far as we can tell, they're not advertising at all."
"Are they pirating my music or my lyrics?"
"Ah, no, sir."
"Well, then, what's the so-called problem?"
The suited figure sat gingerly on the edge of a chair, flinched at the pointed clearing of his host's throat, and hastily got to his feet again.
"Well, Boss, it's their concept. We've been working for months on the idea of a group of time-share condominiums, with tours of the Keys, lectures, games and other activities based on your music. This group is doing the same thing ... informally, but they're making money at it. They're legal, so far anyway, but they could undermine our ... I mean, your, project." He tugged at his necktie.
Buffett sighed, leaning back in his chair and knuckling his eyes. His face looked weary, and a bit sad.
"So they came up with a good idea before we did. So what?"
"Well, Boss, we can still stop them. Buy them out, or squeeze them out. Club Buffett is a big project ... we've got a lot of research and capital tied up in it already. While we realize that you want to focus on the creative end, it's not nearly the income generator that--"
"Leave 'em alone."
"Excuse me, sir?"
"I said, leave 'em alone."
"And leave me the hell alone, too!" The shooting stars of the computer screensaver disappeared into a galaxy of text, reflected in the lenses of Buffett's wire-rimmed glasses, as he turned his back on the suit.
Later, in a darkened boardroom, the dismissed advisor faced other suits across a conference table made of expensive, endangered teakwood.
"He doesn't know what's good for him."
"He pays us to do that."
"It's our duty to take care of this for him."
"So, it's agreed, then?"
"Yes. Draw up the papers."