As I convalesce here in South Florida after losing my job in Colorado and my dog, I'm adapting to the customs of sunnier climes - attempting to fit in despite my Rocky Mountain pallor, which seems quite eerie when thrown against the glowing skin and shiny hair of the tropics at the end of another successful social season. Even after significant changes in latitude and attitude (what's a post about south Florida without a Jimmy Buffet reference?), I tried to maintain my “personal style” of plaid shirts and skinny jeans, but gathered too many curious stares to be convincing as a native. Ignoring the protests of my mountain town sensibilities, I decided that the best course of action, in order to go about my business mostly unnoticed, was to blend in; pass myself off as a seasoned local - which really requires that I wear a disguise.
So I swapped my Patagonia sundresses for white pants (white being the only color paler than my skin that gives me the illusion of being alive), big black shades and an even bigger straw hat. I ditched the mala beads and went to a salon that must have seated 50 pedi-goers at a time and had my toes painted an unnatural shade of orange. I drove my mom's mercedes station wagon up I-95 to the mall and listened to Usher on the radio like it was 2004 - while dodging drivers born in 1904. I changed the background on my iPhone from a triple instagram filtered pic of the Colorado flag to a pre-loaded image of a sea-shell, its mega-pixel pearlescence rivaled only by my new manicure.
Tonight I tested my updated look at an island themed party where I watched pastel clad septuagenarians dance to kettle drum heavy remixes of Margaritaville and Sweet Caroline. They shuffled about the dance floor between trips to the buffet, looking much like the walking dead after one too many rum drinks: joints stiff, skin loose, with brightly colored linen shirts billowing in the warm breeze, brightly colored makeup smeared across their faces as if they’d had a go with Toucan Sam in a balmy back alley.
I maneuvered among them, boldly navigating the seafood bar with a glass of champagne in hand. My bangs may have betrayed my lack of familiarity with humidity resistant hair product, but my diaphanous top was bohemian enough for me to feel comfortable and Bahamian enough to avoid unnecessary attention. No one suspected a thing.