My mom followed the sun, and dragged me with her. I enjoyed those trips to Florida from our shady home up North, but my relationship with UV rays was complicated. Unfortunately, I’d inherited my dad’s egret-white Irish skin, and before our PanAm plane touched down in the Sunshine State, I was slathered in 10 layers of Sea & Ski. And then there was The Ugly Hat, with a choice of 4 mortifying designs: Big and Floppy, Sweaty Terrycloth, Scratchy Scarecrow, or Floral Rubber Swim Cap Vise.
Spending extra time in the shade did bring a few advantages, though. I was probably the only kid on the planet who got to see Disney World exclusively at night. My mom took me window shopping on fancy, palm-lined streets, and—if I was lucky—treated me to coconut-cake-only at The Breakers Hotel. But the best part of sun-dodging was sitting under an umbrella with a book, or surreptitiously observing—not spying on—the less tan-challenged. Sometimes I even made notes in a daisy-decaled notebook.
Years later, I broiled with my friends on the black-shelled sands of Long Island Sound and discovered Lobster Sundays on the tar beach of my Brooklyn apartment rooftop. But when my parents officially moved South to a busy Gulf Coast retirement community, I was back in undercover observer mode on every visit.
If you see me, please say hello. I’m the one in the oversized sunglasses, applying 100-sunblock and adjusting her questionably-chic sunhat. And you can bet I’ll have my daisy notebook.
Hope you enjoy THE LADIES SMYTHE & WESTIN books as much as I love writing them!