A Florida Man, Episode 4

A Florida Man, Episode 4

Suggested Listening: Roxy Music. “The Main Thing,” Avalon, Album, 1982.

(Read A Florida Man, Episode 1 here.)

The evening began on a lighter note after an afternoon of intensive work. But humor doesn’t always translate when there are language barriers to contend with. And humor doesn’t always resonate when earbuds are firmly planted in place. 

A fresh South Florida breeze rolled in across the expensive sands of Coconut Grove’s sprawling beach and over the poolside table Evelyn was setting for dinner. She trapped a cotton napkin, riding a sudden breath of wind, beneath her left palm.

“Call your sister for dinner, please.” Evelyn set the dinner plate she held with her right hand down. 

Olivia did as told. “Claire!” 

“I didn’t say shout.” Evelyn shot her younger daughter a grin.

“Yeah, but it works.” Olivia raised her voice. “Claire!” 

“Olivia.” Evelyn flinched.

A teenager could never resist. Olivia raised her hand to her mouth and wailed. “Claire!” But there was no response from inside the house. 

“Can she hear us?” Evelyn wondered. 

Olivia engaged her intellect and called out again. “There’s a sale!” Her eyes and voice were bright with pride.

On cue, Claire emerged through the patio doors. “Did someone call me?” 

Diego laughed out loud, the humor a welcome relief. But neither girl knew why. 

“What’s so funny?” Claire held one earbud aside but at the ready. Her blonde hair was wet after her prolonged shower and tangled in the white cord. Her tanned legs, muscular, were on display. Toned thighs, gripped by the fringe of faded cutoffs, demanded the attention of those gathered. “What’s so funny?”

“Dinner,” Evelyn said, stifling the laughter, ongoing. 

“What’s so funny?” Claire demanded.

“Sweetie. It’s nothing.”

“No. I want to know.”

“Claire.” A mother stood firm. “You answered to ‘sale’ but not ‘dinner.'”

“I did?” A beautiful smile emerged. 

“And it was very funny,” Diego added, sitting down. 

“That is funny.” Claire relaxed. She set her gold iPhone beside her flatware and sat across from their mother’s guest, the young man still a stranger. 

“Please,” Evelyn motioned to the tropical feast spread before them all. 

Wooden spoons slipped into one serving bowl, stuffed with leafy greens and vivid vegetables. Evelyn passed the grilled salmon. Diego’s eyes were wide open, watering at the fresh meal. 

“I could never survive in the wilderness.” Evelyn helped herself to the rice. Hers was a random observation, a personality quirk most were used to but still surprised by. 

“Meaning?” Diego wondered. 

“Oh,” she laughed a little, remembering herself. “Every time I serve salmon, I think of reality television. Do you know which shows I mean? Where eight people have to hunt, forage, and gather? Whoever doesn’t — ” She wanted to say “starve to death” but stopped short. “You know the survival shows, where they’re eating salmon or trout three times a day.”

“Except for that one guy that caught a moose,” Olivia reminded.

“Oh! That’s right.” 

“But why couldn’t you survive in the wilderness?” Diego pressed for clarification. 

“Oh, I’m far too high maintenance for that,” she answered.

“You can fish,” Claire reminded. 

“Oh, we all can,” Evelyn agreed. “But three hours into landing on some deserted Alaskan island, we’d catch salmon, grill on an open fire — “

“Aren’t you supposed to be alone?” Diego furrowed his brow.

“I break the rules. But three hours in, I’ve missed my coffee. Now I’m grumpy. And then one bite into the salmon, I say, ‘We need the dill sauce.'”

“With the capers.” Olivia pointed. 

“Yes, with the capers.” Evelyn’s passed the referenced dill sauce to her guest and remembered herself again. “I’m joking,” she insisted. Her eyes met Diego’s, recalling his experiences. “But not really. And now that I’ve thought of dill sauce, I need it. Not want. No, no. Need. But I can’t rise from the campfire and head toward the refrigerator. I would have to call the film crew on the emergency phone and leave.”

“Because dill sauce is an emergency.”


He laughed out loud again. The thought of helicopters the night before was a humorous reminder of the mayhem, the rescue, and the eventual rebirth. Yet that was the past. 

“To add insult to reality television injury,” Evelyn continued, “my ten items would have been whittled down to seven before I boarded the initial flight out.” 

“I’m bringing a hacksaw, twine, and a knife,” Olivia said. 

Claire swallowed her first big bite. “I thought you were bringing an axe?”

“That too.”

The girls carried on with their plans. 

Evelyn continued to plead her high-maintenance case. “A typewriter, paper, and one pen, just in case.” 

“You’re going into the wilderness with a typewriter?”


“But there’s too much to see!”

“Yes. I agree. And nature is beautiful and profound. But I would have to record what I witness as it happens or soon afterward. What if I forget?”

“I fished for two weeks. I traveled into the mountains with only a bottle of water.”

Claire held a fork, loaded with food, steady. “What?”

“I was hiding in the mountains.”

“What mountains?”


“Hiding from what?” Her attention was undivided.

What was lost in Dieog’s translation from Spanish to English was not from “what” but from “who.”

Thank you all for reading. Thanks for sharing, too.