En route to Miami, Florida
“I think it’s great that we can get away for awhile just to bask in the Florida sun. Looking forward to seeing ‘The Coconuts’ again. It’s been a long time,” said Jeb as he adjusted his shades and ball cap while driving their nineteen-fifty-seven, red Dodge finned convertible. I know, dear, a long time ago. It will be great to see them again, and the coconuts, too. I mean the Miami coconuts,” said Millie as she sipped her cream soda through her red striped straw. “Let’s see, Miami, two-hundred forty eight miles. We’re almost there,” said Jeb. Both laughed. And the red Dodge finned convertible moved on down the road.
“Welcome aboard flight 2020 en route to Miami, non-stop. My name is Ethel. We will be lifting off momentarily, but first let me point out some things you need to know. There is one restroom located in the back of the plane. Must wait your turn. Your baggage must be secured to the twenty-four wall hangers. Twelve on each side. There are twenty-four passengers. Twelve seated on each side, please. We need to make sure that all the cargo is evenly loaded. We don’t need this plane to tip off balance.”
Ethel went on to say, “An important safety item. Parachutes are to be worn at all times. Pass these out, please. If we have to bail out for emergency reasons, you must jump and pull your cord as soon as you fall out of the plane. If you can’t or hesitate, step out of the way so those eager to leave may go first. No baggage may go with you. This is a six hour flight to Miami. Every hour, two passengers may walk through the plane to the restroom. Must wait your turn. Snacks will be passed out every two hours. One soda and one marshmallow pie. Let me remind you that no children or pets are allowed on this flight. A senior flight only. A one way trip. Now relax and enjoy your flight.”
“Miss Stewardess, I have a question. Do we get water on this flight? I get awfully thirsty and need to keep myself hydrated,” said elderly Zell. “Sir, we all need water. You were supposed to bring your own. Each passenger does get a canteen of water, but you must drink it sparingly. There is no more and this is a six hour flight, remember? Any other complaints, I mean concerns?”
“I’m prone to having panic attacks. I’ve never flown before. What can you do to help me, kind lady?” “I can’t do nothin’, lady. I’m not a licensed medical professional. Are you too afraid to fly? Then, I suggest you leave the plane now and consider other modes of transportation.” “I’m going to complain about how you treated me.” “Please do, kind lady. I get at least one complaint per flight. What did you expect for a discounted flight at nineteen dollars and ninety nine cents? Thank you for choosing Budget Cargo,” said flight attendant, Ethel, wearing her military fatigues, parachute, oxygen supply tank, cat-eyed sunglasses and her coral pink colored ball cap with “Miami Coconuts” embroidered in yellow across it’s front and two green palms with coconuts balanced on each side.
“Hey, Ethel, who do you work for? You don’t look like a stewardess to me,” said the Mad Hatter. “I don’t look like a clown either. Just go back through the looking glass. I get a joker on here every once in awhile. Actually, I work for ‘Miami Coconuts.’ I’m your tour guide once we hit the ground. I mean, safely land in Miami. You will be treated well. You think I like this job? I do it for nothing, but it’s how I pick up business. Soda and a marshmallow pie, anyone? Oh yes, there are three choices, chocolate, vanilla, and coconut. You will notice a sticker on the bottom of the coconut pie. It’s a coupon for a free box of salt water taffy with a purchase of twenty-five dollars or more at ‘Miami Coconuts’ souvenir shop. One coupon per customer only.”
“It’s been forty-five years since we’ve last seen ‘The Coconuts.’ They just live in a tropical oasis. And the beautiful palms that line the road to their place, just magnificent. I can just see them now, as they were then. I sent a note to them a month ago about our anticipated trip to Miami and how much we’d love to see them again. Coco penned me back with a gracious welcome. She said not to worry about lodging, as we can stay with them. I wonder what they have been doing since we saw them last? They’ll ask us the same question, Jeb. What can we tell them?” “Just tell them the truth. We are retired and spend special times together walking ‘Yogi’ around the block and entering him in dog competition. You know, once, someone, a neighbor said that ‘Yogi’ was quite a ‘show dog.’ He always raises his hind leg higher than the rest at the corner hydrant,” Jeb laughed.
“We have to tell them we’ve done more than that. Oh yes, remember our wonderful cruise to The Bahamas. It’s just paradise there. See, I have my straw bag to prove it. It’s coral pink with Nassau woven on it’s side in aqua blue. But, I must remove the tags that read ‘Miami Coconuts’ and ‘Producto de Honduras.’ We need to be authentic. Here’s your visor from our trip to Hawaii years ago. I loved Maui and snorkeling in it’s crystal clear water. ‘Made in Japan’ tag needs to be removed. Also the tag ‘Distributed by Miami Coconuts.’ See, we are somebodies and have been somewhere. Would you like a marshmallow pie, Jeb? We only have coconut.” Both laughed. One hundred-fifty miles to Miami.
“How is everyone doing? We’re one hour from Miami International Cargo Terminal. If you need lavatory breaks, do them now. You must wait your turn, but be considerate. Time is of the essence. Okay, everyone, fasten your belts and harnesses. We are fifteen minutes from touch down at Miami.” Captain to passengers, “We have been cleared to land. Ready, set and down we go.” “Welcome to Florida and welcome to Miami!” exclaimed Ethel, the part-time flight attendant and tour guide. “Everyone, make sure you take all your bags with you, this plane will be loaded with another cargo of passengers right after you exit.”
Ethel to passengers, “Follow me. There are two trams waiting to take us to the main terminal baggage claim. Your baggage will come to you there. After all baggage is claimed and checked, we will proceed to the buses waiting for us to take us to town to our lodging location. Compliments of ‘Miami Coconuts.’ Tomorrow morning our sightseeing will begin. Enjoy your evenings. Thanks to all of you for your cooperation.”
“Look for our ‘Miami Coconuts’ tour van. It will comfortably seat all of you,” said Ethel with a smile while counting cash in her hand from tips received. “Let’s see, there’s four quarters, one-dollar bill, two dimes and this folded piece of paper. Let me open and read.” “You’re hot, baby. Lookin’ for a hot Miami night. Can you show me the town? Here’s an extra tip of twenty. Kiss, kiss, mi amor,” signed Gustavo, aka Zell. Ethel thinking to herself…Well, extra is extra. More bucks and he may get more for the money. I don’t come cheap. I am a lady.
“Jeb, I’m getting excited. Miami is two miles away. Next exit. I don’t remember the exact directions to Loco and Coco’s. We’re off the expressway. Turn left here. There’s a lighted business straight ahead on the right,” said Millie as she searches for her phone in her straw Bahamas’ bag. “Okay, Millie. Here we are at ‘Miami Coconuts.’ Sound familiar? Open twenty-four hours. Souvenirs and gifts to remember your place in the sun. We have coconuts here. Let’s go inside so you can make your call,” said Jeb in a tired tone of voice.
“Welcome to ‘Miami Coconuts.’ said the store cashier. We have it all here to remember your trip to paradise. Salt water taffy, first aisle on your left. Fresh coconuts in our produce bins located on the back aisle.” “Hello, Coco. This is Millie. We are here. Such a long trip, but we made it. Looking forward to seeing you. Can you meet us at a place called ‘Miami Coconuts?'” “Absolutely, Millie. It’s so good to hear your voice. I’ll be there in about twenty minutes. I know the location well. Be there soon.” “Coco, how will we recognize each other? It’s been forty-five years,” said nervously by Millie. “Don’t worry, baby. I’ll be wearing my coconut printed moo-moo and sandals and I know you will remember my alluring Latin face. I know you still look the same. If you’re carrying that straw bag from The Bahamas, I will remember you. Bet it still has the labels ‘Miami Coconuts’ and made in Honduras,” said laughingly by Coco.
“Jeb, let’s go to the back and see their fresh coconuts. There’s the bins. I can see them from here. Why don’t we go ahead and get two of them? One for us and one for Coco and Loco as a gift for their hospitality. Wait, the label on crate reads ‘Producto de Panama.’ I thought these were coconuts in Miami.” “Well, they are, right in your hands, coconuts in Miami grown in Panama. Can’t get any more Miami than that,” Jeb smiles with a grin. “It’s all about marketing. This is nothin’ but a tourist trap. I know Coco would never have anything to do with this sham. She is authentic. Loco doesn’t care. Toto, their dog, just likes hot dogs and his walks. He’s a ‘show dog,’ too.”
“Millie, a car just pulled up. The door is opening. There is a short woman in a coconut moo moo. Must be Coco. And that must be Loco. He looks like he did forty-five years ago. Maybe a game of dominoes again. Still has that Latin ‘stache and that aromatic Cuban cigar.” “Coco, so glad to see you,” said Millie as she gives Coco a big hug and a kiss. “I knew it was you, No one like you,” said Coco. “How did you know it was me?” said Millie. “Your Nassau straw bag gave you away.” Loco to Jeb, “That nineteen-fifty-seven, red Dodge finned convertible hasn’t changed a bit. But you, Jeb, I wouldn’t recognize you, bud.” “I remember you, Loco. I see you still smoke those cheap Cuban cigars. You still smell the same.” “We both have good taste,” said laughingly by both.
Millie to Coco, “Do you still live on Coconut Bend?” “No, we sold the place. You know how developers are, they flash some cash and it was a lot, so we took it and looked for something else to do. A luxury hotel is there now. Well, exactly, what are you doing now, Millie?” “Well, we walk our dog around the block and pretend we travel a lot. You know, we’ve been to Hawaii, The Bahamas, and now Miami.” “What more could you ask for, Millie?” “Well, we came here for Miami coconuts, but none are here, only those in the bins from Panama.” “Well, you’re right, they are not Miami coconuts, but they are coconuts in Miami. By the way, about ‘Miami Coconuts,’ it’s our business. We have several locations. We give the tourists what they want. If they want ‘Miami Coconuts,’ we give them ‘Miami Coconuts.’ How about a bikini made in Mexico? A halter made in the USA, I mean California, or a straw bag from The Bahamas with ‘Miami Coconuts’ made in Honduras with Miami Coconuts tagged on it’s side? Millie, let’s get you some coconuts now, the tour buses will start arriving early tomorrow morning. Also, here’s some boxes of assorted salt water taffy. All on me, dear friend.”
Miami Coconuts, a souvenir shop, merchandise from elsewhere, and coconuts, all from Miami, so they say. Lasting memories with friends count most of all, but don’t forget the salt water taffy made authentically in Miami. Family and friends will appreciate your thoughtfulness and it will serve as a reminder to them that you are somebodies, that do go somewhere, and travel in style in a nineteen-fifty-seven, red Dodge finned convertible. Would you like a piece of taffy?