Invitation to Paradise

Dear Your Holiness:

First, let me congratulate you on your retirement.

After eight years in the Holy Office, thirty-nine tweets, and your final ride in the Popemobile, I understand you are kicking back at Castel Gandolfo.  It ain’t chopped liver but, let’s face it, Benny (okay if I call you Benny?), the Vatican must be a tough act to follow.

Like that mighty fortress, Gandolfo is also surrounded by guards and high walls. So you’re still a prisoner, in a manner of speaking. You may feel claustrophobic, develop cabin fever and want to break out. Escape to somewhere away from prying eyes. Pad about in your skivvies and bare feet (or red velvet slippers) without attracting the paparazzi. 

Which is why I’m extending an invitation to visit us in the Florida Keys. The guestroom (queen-size bed, large windows, ceiling fan, walk-in closet) and en suite bath are clean and comfortable. (Feel free to bring your own monogrammed sheets, if you wish.)  In the drawer of the bedside table are a Gideon’s Bible, left years ago by a previous guest, and a box of coconut patties. Have at them. For $10 at the local flea market (Saturday and Sunday, 8am-3pm) you can pick up a rosary of cowries and candy-striped snail shells.

The small porch off the bedroom may remind you of St. Peter’s Balcony. But on a smaller scale, of course.  Instead of delivering messages to thousands of your flock in the piazza, you can address the flocks of pelicans, egrets and herons worshipping in the sanctuary across the street. We’ll even toss in field glasses and an Audubon guidebook.

In the living room you’ll find an honor library to help you pass the time when you’re not praying or snorkeling. As long as you replace the books when you’re done, mi libre, tui libre.  Among the authors filling our shelves are John D. MacDonald, Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen.  Give us an hour or two and we’ll translate them into German or Latin; explain the humor.

Meals here are simple. We grill fish most evenings, heat a loaf or two which you can dunk in sacramental wine—or oil and chopped garlic. After supper we cast the bread crumbs into the canal behind the house, attracting mangrove snappers and the occasional barracuda and blotto sinner.

No need for you to be concerned about drawing attention to your holy self. Trust me, nobody will recognize you in shorts and a Key West wife-beater shirt.  You’ll blend right in with the local fashionistas on their tricycles and mopeds. Hell, most of the citizenry left the church when they dropped out in the ‘60s. They don’t know what day it is or (meaning no disrespect) who shares their sleeping bag.  So they’ll accept you at face value─buy you a beer, flash a gold tooth and blow smoke in your face at the local tiki bars. To them, you’ll be just another white-haired hippie who tired of the rat race. 

A word to the wise:  Be yourself.  Keep it simple.  Try, “Hi, I’m Joe from Bavaria. Got any ganja?”

We hope you’ll take us up on our invitation to get outta Gandolfo and experience Paradise, Keys style.





5 responses to “Invitation to Paradise

  1. Super funny as always…never keep me from falling off my chair!!!

  2. Frances Higgins

    I think he’d be hard pressed to turn down your gracious invitation. But if he does, expect us on your doorstep next year!

  3. The Pope ain’t the fool you think. Castel Gandolfo is only a short drive into the mountains above Rome. It is Easily one of the most beautiful places on earth with a huge Deep pristine lake. When Rome is sweltering in summer Gandolfo is cool and beautiful The Castel is to die for and puts the Vatican to shame in size and grandure The small mountain towns around it have some of the best small restaurants and finest old wine cellars on the planet. Some of the private villas near the Castel sell for 20 million and up when one comes up for sale every three hundred years. The Pope got good advice from a higher authority when made that decision.
    If I had 20 million I’d move in next door. Remember, when the site was chosen and the Castel was built that guy was the richest and most powerfull man on the planet. Duhhh. Only a few Seminoles lived in the keys at the time. Of course with Beth living in the Keys it would definitely be my second choice.

  4. I LOVE it! Brought an ear-to-ear smile on my face.

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