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14 June 2024
The Bull & Whistle, Duval Street, Key West

The year my dad passed away, I took my mum out to Florida for five weeks. A day or so after his funeral, I took her out to my home in Orlando. The idea was for me to put my home up for sale and get my mum away from the thousands of telephone calls she would expect from well-meaning relatives checking up on her.

Bull and Whistle Barmaid.

As it happened, the house sold the day I put it on the market for a lot more than was expected, which was great and meant that I could go forward with my plans of resettling myself in Spain a lot quicker than I imagined.

After the house sold, we drove down through Florida. We visited the Everglades, where we stayed in a small hotel and went out on one of those large boats with huge fans propelling them along at high speed. When we left the Everglades, we drove down to Key West to stop for a few days.

One day, Mum and I walked into the Bull and Whistle bar on Duval Street. There was some live music on, and we sat at the bar to get a drink and listen to the music. Few people were in the bar, but the barmaid kept walking past me. Mum waved to her, and she served her her vodka and tonic but did not pour the beer Mum had ordered for me. We both thought she had simply not heard Mum, and I ordered a beer from her as another barmaid passed.

We listened to the group for a while, and when we finished our drinks, we turned around to order another drink. Once again, the barmaid ignored me but immediately served Mum her drink. Again, the other barmaid arrived and served me my pint. When this happened again for the third time I asked the barmaid that did serve me if I had inadvertently upset the first barmaid. She explained to me and my mum why the barmaid ignored me completely. She asked if I remembered going into the bar a few years previously with a friend and explained why the barmaid was ignoring me.

A few years previously, I had gone to the Keys with my friends Martin and Sean, and my cousin Dave. One day, Sean and I had gone to the Bull and Whistle bar for a few beers. We had both been chatting up the barmaids, and I had been getting on very well with one of them. She had taken a shine to me and I had promised to return a few weeks later and take her to Orlando to Disney World and stay at my house for a few days whilst I showed her all the local sites. Needless to say, I had completely forgotten that I had made this promise to the girl. The beer had taken its toll on my memory. The girl I had promised to take out was the barmaid, who completely ignored me. The barmaid serving us was her best friend, who had also been working the night I had asked her out. The girl I had forgotten to return and take out had told the other girl she would not serve or talk to me. Mum and I spent a few hours in the bar listening to live music before leaving later. Mum would get served immediately the entire time we were at the bar, and I would have to get one of the other barmaids to pour my beer.

A few days after we returned to England I took my mum to the Working Men's Club I was a member of. We were standing at the bar chatting with a group of my friends when my friend Sean walked in. He began talking to my mum and asked her if she enjoyed the Florida trip. She was telling him about the trip and began to tell him about the girl in the Bull and Whistle pub in the Florida Keys. He immediately began laughing and asked my mum if the girl had a sleeve of tattoos on her arm. When she confirmed that this was the girl she was talking about, he told my mum the same story about me asking her out and promising to take her to Disney World. I was the only one who had forgotten about taking the barmaid out.

I often wonder how the barmaid is, what I would be doing, or where I would be living if I hadn't forgotten the date I had arranged with her. My mistake, my loss. If you are the barmaid I am talking about, I am sorry. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.