As the Beach Boys of Marco worked, played, and sailed through the seasons of life, there were always events, celebrities, and unforgettable circumstances that would stand out above the typical days of working in paradise. Many of the memories noteworthy of sharing became noticeable because extraordinary persons with specific patterns of behavior became impossible to ignore.
As always, during mid-February, St Valentine’s Day, and the winter season of romance, the popular beach hotel we worked was packed. There were tourists and islanders everywhere, and with the popularity of Marco Island exploding, there should be no surprise that a distinctive type of predator would arrive to take advantage of lonely hearts looking for love.
We noticed her first sortie on the weekend after St Valentine’s Day. The hotel was busy, but she stood out in a class all her own. Especially when a staged and musical comparison study was easy for her to arrange.
Every Saturday and scheduled just before lunch, there was a poolside fashion show that featured the most attractive ladies that worked at the resort. There was a live band with electric piano, bass, and drums who would play background music for an emcee with a microphone who gave a running commentary on local Marco models that were showcasing bikinis, one-piece bathing suits, cover-ups, and evening resort wear that was featured and sold in the hotel gift shops. The fashion show was chic and glamorous and occasionally the emcee was a celebrity figure from major league baseball, NFL football, or Hollywood.
The local Marco models were all attractive and shapely in their swimwear. But when she promenaded down from the lobby steps and sauntered past the trio playing the walking music for the ongoing fashion show, every head turned opposite the local bathing beauties as the pathway to the pool suddenly became her very own catwalk. She was beyond beautiful, a clock stopping showstopper, and she knew how to work everything about it.
After that first unforgettable and devastating mid-February sortie, she arrived every weekend afterward on a Friday afternoon and checked out the following Monday morning. We never learned her first name – only the registered name on her hotel room. What we did learn however, was that she drove a new Mercedes-Benz convertible, she paid cash for everything, and always tipped the valet staff to keep her car at the front door entrance in plain sight. In fact, she tipped everyone for everything. No one tipped for getting a stack of beach towels at the pool… but she did. She tipped the servers at the pool, the bartenders that served her the tropical umbrella drinks, and even the security guards that walked along the pool deck and asked to see her room key to make sure she was indeed a registered hotel guest. Her glamourous entrance, after that first Saturday in February, was always timed perfectly with the live music and local fashion show. After her weekly debut before lunch, she would stake out and command a highly visible position and chaise lounge at the pool. After gaining the attention of everyone at the pool deck, she would then begin to remove her slinky sheer cover-up to reveal a perfectly tanned and curvy figure in the very latest bikini fashion. Her hair was always perfect, her face could have easily been featured as the cover girl on any glamor magazine, and her jewelry, accessories, and perfume were always subtle, correct, and intoxicating. She never wore the same outfit twice.
After about an hour poolside, she would withdraw from her bathing beauty swimming pool position to proceed to the beach for another exaggerated sortie, private parade, and reconnaissance mission.
Every man and boy within a football field could not help but notice her and gawk and stare. On every occasion she would appear, there were many women who would give their man a pinch and a sharp word if they happened to gape at the seductive temptress for one second too long.
Her modus operandi was that she was always alone. She was, however, constantly approached with readily apparent romantic intent. Her age could have been anywhere between 30 and 45 and when she was approached her defenses were razor sharp. When a young man would sweep in with a cool line he thought might work, she would only laugh, showing a movie star smile and ultra-white teeth. She was always far enough away that her perfect grammar and sultry voice could scarcely be heard, but whatever she politely said, would always have any young man running for cover with obvious embarrassment. When men her own age or middle-age men would try a more mature and practiced romantic tactic, he too was always dismissed after a devastating smile and a couple of quick undistinguishable sentences.
On that first weekend after St. Valentine’s Day, John, our head of hotel security and the closest thing we had to a hotel detective, came down to the beach hut for an appreciative look around. She was alone and sipping a lemonade under the shade of a nearby umbrella when John (formerly a detective from the New York State Police) gave us his report with a smile, a wink, and a nod.
“She came in yesterday afternoon by herself in a new Mercedes coup. She registered under a Miami address and paid cash for a premium room. She over-tipped everybody. She is a working girl for sure but total class,” John paused to admire the shapely figure in the distance, and to watch as all of the Marco Beach Boys gaped in surprise. None of us had even remotely suspected the beautiful model-like woman we were so in awe of was, in fact, a professional and practicing the world’s oldest profession.
After the Beach Boys tried to manage our shock and pull ourselves back together, our security director continued with his narrative and assessment.
“She is the best I’ve ever seen but there can be no doubt. She was having dinner by herself just after sunset when an older heavyset fellow showed up and asked if he could join her. At first, she smiled and shook her head no. Then after a little more conversation, the older fellow nodded and left. He then climbed the stairs to the lobby, went to the front desk and took $2,500 in cash he charged on a credit card. He had the clerk put the money in an envelope and went back and sat down until she finished dinner.
All the Beach Boys were in shock and we immediately asked, “What are you going to do, John?”
John gave us another smile and another wink. “Absolutely nothing,” he said. “She is as good as they get. As far as I’m concerned, as long as she behaves, she’s just another attraction to the resort.”
Tom Williams is a Marco Islander. He is the author of two books: Lost and Found and Surrounded by Thunder—The Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocket Men. Both books are available on Kindle and Nook.