September 23, 2009 | 6:39am
Banana Boat in Boynton Beach
has been around since 1978. But I remember it from the late '80s and early '90s when my buddies and I would tool up in daddy's Boston Whaler and spend the day in bathing suits and flip-flops sucking down virgin piña coladas and chicken fingers till sunset.
So on a rainy Friday night, I convinced someone -- I'll call him Sport, since he seemed to know about every athlete alive and dead -- to schlep to another area code to take me on a mental trip back in time. Little did I know we would be more concerned with some late-night trips to the bathroom instead.
Charmed by the sounds of live music, we bypassed the front entrance and walked around the side to the waterfront deck. We didn't find the expected sight, a dreadlocked reggae performer with a steel drum, however. Nope, we were treated to the sight of a chubby 40-something drunken woman dancing on the bar and eventually gyrating her way down to her drunken, chubbier date's lap while their friends cheered. I looked past the scene and over the water at Two Georges
, wondering if it was too late to change venues.
Banana Boat: a doorway into the past.
Sport suggested we sit at a table inside. The simple broiled fish platters and fun finger foods I remembered had been replaced by things stuffed, crusted, or paired with some form of crustacean. We settled for the shrimp- and herb-stuffed mahi and a snapper special. I took two bites of the snapper and asked if Sport wanted to switch. He agreed. Nice move. But three forkfuls into it, I saw something I wished I hadn't: pink. It appeared our little fishy friend was undercooked. We both feared we would be spending the night praying to a porcelain god.
Within minutes, the manager came over, apologized for the mistake, and put our minds at ease with the assurance that the mahi was of the highest quality. She also offered to buy us dessert, but at that point we were consumed with recalling previous food-poisoning encounters.
Now sharing a strange common ground, we skipped over the usual 20 questions and got right to something that was particularly interesting: Sport unapologetically announced he was resolved to live the bachelor life, happy to surround himself with sports memorabilia, a computer that mostly displayed porn, a bed kept warm with one-night Wendys, and obligations to so many softball league games that he would never have time to worry about finding a wife. I wondered if he was telling me all this because he wasn't interested in me or if he was just testing the waters.
Since he was quite attractive and had a great sense of humor, I suspect most women would have been heartbroken or perhaps would've viewed him as the ultimate challenge to overcome, but I saw something different: This was my chance to dissect the psyche of a man who was the exact opposite of what I sought. Finally, I'll be able to learn what really makes a guy tick when he doesn't have to worry about impressing a woman. Who cares if he was into me or not? I'm not the kind of girl to get naked on the first date, and I sensed he knew it.
We sat outside for hours, enjoying the breeze and discussing what men fear, desire, despise, and dream of until I felt fairly educated.
Thankful that the manager had scratched off the faulty entrée and that our stomachs never protested, I gladly paid the bill. Some may say I got the raw end of the deal that night, but I think not. I believe that $60 meal more than paid for my tuition, and now I knew some insider tricks on how to keep my future hubby happy. Plus, I felt pretty confident that Sport was destined to become the one boy who I could shamelessly and safely flirt with, no matter who else comes in and out of my life. Now if only I could get the old Banana Boat back and my high school cheerleading figure, I'd really have it all.
Banana Boat is located at 739 E. Ocean Ave. in Boynton Beach. Call 561-732-9400, or visit bananaboatboynton.com.
Freelance writer Riki Altman eats everything that won't try and eat her first (with exceptions, of course) and dates younger men, older men, and older men who act like young men, along with locals, tourists, illegal aliens, and just plain aliens. Love Bites is a compilation of what happens when her dining and dating ordeals collide. Sometimes, it just ain't pretty.