The King of Florida

boat island

Growing up, our annual family vacation was to drive down to Siesta Key, Florida. That’s near Sarasota, if you care.

My dad and I would get up early and walk over to the beach. He’d sit under an umbrella and read and I would take a raft out into the ocean and try not to float away.

I looked forward to those trips every year.

My dad was in insurance back then. He was a self made man, graduating high school with average grades and not finishing college. He went straight into the insurance world, working on commission, hustling and bustling, out of town a lot and in my estimation, trying to build a comfortable life for his family. I am indebted to him for all that he provided.

But this is not about my dad.

He worked with a younger agent at his firm who moved down to Florida with his wife. Matt and Pat were probably ten years younger than my parents, from what I could gather. So that would put them in their 30’s when we would go down to visit them. They had a beautiful home with a screened in pool. We were treated very well when stayed there and referred to them as “Uncle” and “Aunt”.

Matt was a goofball. A fun loving, flirty white guy with light eyes and dirty blond hair. He would say things like “Does your face hurt, cuz it’s killin’ me!” and laugh at his own joke.

Pat was beautiful, like an 80’s beauty queen just past her prime. It seemed important to Matt that Pat look good. That she be thin. That she wear form fitting clothes and make-up. She had a mouth full of perfect white teeth and when she laughed her eyes would literally sparkle.

I was young during those Florida days, maybe nine or ten. I think there was probably a lot of boozing and maybe even drugs going around at night, when we went to bed.

Insurance was and still is a sales game. Business lunches. Business dinners. Business happy hours. Business trips. It was a Man’s World filled with all of the things that you would imagine at back door meetings and Sunday’s on the golf course.

My dad played that game right alongside his younger counterpart Matt and they both had good lives.

We drifted away from them. Probably job changes and moves and that thing that happens when you don’t live in the same city or state.

Matt and Pat went on to have to have two children and they’d send Christmas cards. I would remember them fondly.

We connected on Facebook a couple of years back and I dug up some old photos of us at their house, swimming in their pool.

But then I saw that Matt was an ardent Trump supporter. And the more posts he made, the more I remembered him for what he really was back then. Something I didn’t really understand as a child but as a grown woman, could see with clarity now. He was a domineering womanizer, a man who wanted a trophy wife and a trophy life and wanted to keep what was his.

After some long-winded comments he left on one of my anti-Trump posts, I had to unfriend him.

Recently he messaged me when he realized I was still friends with Pat and not him to say that he hoped the political stuff was not what caused the unfriending and then made the comment that Kathy Griffin’s stunt would have probably gotten her killed in a country like North Korea and Iran.

I want to keep the man I knew as a girl the same fun, caring person I surely loved back then, in my heart.

But it’s really hard to do that now.

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