If you're me, sometimes life runs right up and bites you in the backside. Something like that happened last Saturday night. It was payback time.
We went out on Friday night. Friday is the day we decide to get off our backsides and escape into the wilds of St Thomas for an evening. It takes strong external motivation to head beyond the walls of your hermit(ish) existence.
Last Friday brought some external motivation. We met a colleague of mine for dinner. Well, I might say he is a colleague and a patron as well. You see Phil and Bonnie Jacobs bought one of my paintings of St John (see painting above).
They retired and moved to Kentucky, near Louisville, with acres and acres of land, five horses and a whole passel of other critters.
Fast forward a few years, and we moved down to St. Thomas. He may have been a bit envious of our move, but he has a great life where he is too. He loves to visit the islands and this year he came to our island. Yay.
Hurricane Irma devastated this place, and there's still a lot of damage around, but repairs are ongoing. Some places, like Fresh Bistro, survived the onslaught of the storm better than others. Fresh is in full swing. The restaurant has good eats and friendly service, and, I must say, they make killer mojitos.
We had a lovely evening and want to thank them for looking us up and taking the time to see us while they were in town. Meeting up with old friends is one of my favorite things to do.
When we came home, we settled in for what we hoped was going to be a relaxing and pleasurable weekend - until Saturday.
Saturday is often referred to by people in the travel business here on St Thomas as "changeover day." It's the time when the sad, sunburned, waterlogged, and detox-ready visitors take their big silver birds home, making room for a new crop of mainlanders whose livers, libidos, and psyches are ready for a tropical makeover. For many, that includes a lot of sun, sea, and relaxation. Others take it up a notch with rum-runners and loud music.
Saturday, for us, brought us a relaxing walk on Magens Bay Beach. It started to rain a bit, so we hopped in the car and boogied on down the road to our house about a mile and a half up the Peterborg peninsula.
When we got home, we decided to kick back and have a cocktail or two and some dinner.
Unfortunately, one of the newest crop was Loki.
Do you know Loki?
Loki is a Norse god, like Odin, Thor, Tyr and that lot, but he's not a nice guy. He's one of those troublesome gods. This guy, who can be a woman too, likes to stir the pot. He is a shapeshifter that doesn't play by the rules and will put a monkey wrench into any good times.
Sometimes they call him a "Trickster." I call him annoying.
We live next door to a rental property that runs $22K per week. I guess if you pay that much you want to let your hair down a bit. But this guy, Loki, when he let his hair down, it covered the earth around him. He had more hair to let down than Rapunzel.
Actually, he was a short, stocky, middle-aged, balding, investment banking party animal from Philadelphia in a tropical blue Hawaiian shirt - and he was the owner - ugh. As he puts it, "I like to party, man."
As we were in mid-chill, we heard a cacophony from the house next door. Just imagine Led Zepplin, AC-DC, and Guns-n-Roses turned their amps up full blast, pointed the speakers at your home, and let it rip.
Well, that puts it a bit mildly.
We yelled a couple of times to ask him to turn down the music. He didn't hear the neighbors above us, or us, screaming, "Turn the F^@*ing Music Down!" So, I strapped on my indignation, slipped on my flip flops, and stomped down in the rain through the open gate to find the culprit.
When I got inside the compound, my jaw dropped at the opulence. There were marble floors, glass walls, Greek columns, and a fountain behind the pool that must have been dripping champagne. I thought I was in Shangri-La.
I found Loki and sidled up to him. "Hi," I said, "My name is Scott. I live next door."
"Hi Scott, how can I help you?" Actually, it sounded like "Hey schlotz cn I hepz-ya?" He was clearly well on his way to funky town.
"Dude! Can you please turn the music down or at least turn the speakers off that point at our house?" I said.
"Sure, man, no problem, come on in, can I offer you a drink? You say you live next door. Do you know Ken? I know Ken. I've tried to buy that house off him a hundred times. He keeps turning me down. Can you talk to him for me?"
"Sorry, no, I don't know Ken."
"You know, I spent $11 million on this place, and when I visit I like to party, you know? I like to party. I'm a party guy. Did I tell you I have 700 rental properties all over the world?"
"I understand (I didn't), but do you need to music quite so loud?"
"Here, let's go in here." By here, he meant his sound room, yes sound room, off of his glass-walled bedroom looking over Magens Bay. "Here it is. I think this is the right knob. Let's see if this works."
"Is that better?"
"Well, the walls are still shaking, can you crank it down a little more, so the earth will stop liquifying."
"You know, I come here every once in a while, and when I'm here, I like to party. I like to get along with everybody. I'm a party guy."
"No problem, I understand, can you please not shake the foundations of our house while you get your party thing going, though?"
My bitching was going nowhere, we didn't have anyplace to turn, and I was sure Loki honestly didn't care.
When I came out of his room, I saw Andrea talking to his wife who was acting clueless. She couldn't understand why we thought it was so loud. "Oh, you'll have to talk to Loki," she said. "He runs everything here. Don't worry; it'll calm down soon enough."
Anyway, we had said our piece, and he had made a small concession. Not nearly enough but I was tired of pushing the point. We scampered home, tails between our legs, shut the windows, turned on the air-conditioner, and watched the television on the other side of the building.
Sunday, more of the same. It started at about 2:30 in the afternoon - not quite as loud but I could still hear it in my marrow. We huddled around the television for a while, wore our noise-canceling headphones, and then went out for a walk. When we got home, I turned our music on to drown out his music.
I was so conflicted because I liked the music he was playing. It was a mixture of the 60s and 70s rock and roll that you can get your toe tapping and your head banging. (Eric Clapton, Joe Walsh, The Eagles, and many more.) It was the thought he was playing the music loud to spite us which infuriated me.
Tuesday evening Loki came knocking at the door and said, "We're going to have a little party tonight. We have a chef coming in and a bunch of friends; and you know I like to party. We promise to have the music down by 9:30. Then tomorrow we're out on a boat and Thursday we're most likely leaving. I hope that's okay; and you know I like to party. But we'll have it down by 9:30 at the latest." Hilariously, the loud music never manifested.
The fact that he came over and warned me or discussed it with me made me feel a whole lot better. He was at least trying to consider us. He wasn't an ass for the sake of being an ass. I didn't feel so much like he was violating my space anymore.
Earlier, I mentioned it was payback time. Here's why.
When I was 17 or 18 years old, I wasn't the fine upstanding citizen you see before you today. I was a bit of an angsty, self-absorbed teen. I think we all were. Didn't you think the world revolved around you?
Anyway, in 1977 or thereabouts I was playing some Jimi Hendrix on my parent's cool-ass stereo. My dad was an electronics engineer, and he built our entire stereo system, from scratch, which my mom got in the divorce. Lucky me cause she got me too.
Dad's stereo was terrific. You could break eardrums with that thing. Unfortunately, we lived in a quiet, smallish condo in Los Altos with paper-thin walls. Our neighbor (I can't remember his name) was a retired man and his wife. The poor guy came over to ask me to turn down the music. Oh no, not Jimi. You can't turn down Jimi! I gave him a few choice words and slammed the door in his face. I'm sure he was dumbfounded and bereft.
I caught hell from my mom later on that evening. She was a good one for giving hell. Suffice it to say; I had to go and apologize and never played the stereo that loud again.
Now, fast forward about forty or so years and as they say. Payback is, shall we say, a bitter and painful pill to swallow.
So, when you least expect it. Your past might jump up and bite you. If it does, grit your teeth, take a big breath and be thankful you weren't an even more horrible child than you in fact were.
I am grateful for all the lessons in my life. I might not like them, but I am thankful.
Until next week, I wish you peace.