I started the day with a workout routine on the shore, dipping into the ocean between rounds. We walked northward for a few hours. It was quiet. A few homeless folks have dared to establish an encampment off the beach, but that’s to be expected with this weather. The polemic going on in town surrounds the construction of a new “high-rise” a 35-story development with two towers, which will be the tallest structure in Pompano when finished. I watched the public access channel where residents voiced their complaints of shadows being cast on their pool for a few hours a day, or the congestion on A1A, the central road running north/south on the key. I supposed that every beach tower has faced NIMBY opposition; people are afraid of change and they’re greed.
Pompano Beach feels like a retirement and vacation community. The prices of food are colluded by social security benefits, which are 25-40% less than anything in New York. It’s clean, quiet and noticeably heterogenous 25 feet west of the beach sand. The average age of Pompanner is 55, and augments the gray wave of Baby-Boomers who are cashing in on the good life before they die in the Sunshine state. Several cities in Florida are ranked as the most popular destination for Americans to move. Orlando, Melbourne, Lakeland,Port St. Lucie, Dayton, Sarasota, Fort Meyes have all seen double-digit population growth in the last few years.
The other concern was about the new FWC instructions on how to deal with the invasive iguana population: humanely kill all that you see. What this means is not clear is how to do this safely within an urban setting. BB gun? Bowling ball? Booby traps?
Briny Irish Pub is one of the few establishments on Atlantic Ave with a mature, developed style. The barnacled buoys hang from the ceiling with maritime accoutrement and dissolves into sports collectibles on the walls before realizing the true potential of the place, the blood sweat and tears culminating in the central bartending path, where tenders sport camouflaged baseball caps that uniformly read “Pompano.”
On a typical Saturday night, one can wander to the rear of the bar and find a live cover band meandering through the Top-50 from 1970-1995. The drink specials persuade clients to shrug off their public candor and dance in a style that can be described only as the White Trash Shuffle, a short of zombie trance in which all rhythms and movements are transcribed exclusively into the knees, as the dancers shuffle through the crowd with their hands out-strecthed. It is the prefered step of the young and old alike; by ‘young’ I mean in the fourth decade of their life. I counted the number of men wearing shirts with collars.
We ran into Barry while Vanesa was stepping out for a smoke and he joined us inside, reciting his enthusiasm that we had recognized him from his visit to the Sea Cove three days before. Again, he invited us to come to his house for no other reason than “see where I live.” We politely refrained. Barry started to tell me about his artwork, drawings inspired by either Gaugan or Van Gough, and how he was certain he would be famous after he died. Mentioning I made art once was sufficient. I nod. He said he wanted to show me his drawings to which I replied he should take a photo and send them to me. He didn’t have a camera. I suggested he use his camera phone. Most of what he said was masked in the loudspeaker of the band, but when I lost track of whether to nod in affirmation or cock my head to express my interest for him to continue, he would lean across the table and speak directly into my ear.
“You should come back to Pompano without your girlfriend.”
“Why would I come back to Pompano, Barry?”
“Why don’t you want to come back to Pompano?”
“Why would I come back to Pompano? There are so many places to visit in the world.” I realized I had missed some things he had said beneath the loudspeaker, which may have been crucial. After half an hour, I went to look for Vanesa, who had found another new friend at the bar, and we decided to leave when he blurted out to me,
“I have to tell you something, that’s humiliating and embarrassing.”
“Barry, you don’t have to tell me anything that’s humiliating, I don’t even know you.”
“Sometimes I have same-sex relations with men.”
“Ok, sure. It’s 2019. You can do that. It’s Florida. I’m sure you’ll be fine.” I patted him on the shoulder and left, realizing I had completely misunderstood the entire last hour. But I was happy to have mis-read Pompano.