New Beer Friday, Grapes of Wrath Edition (March 22)

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

Ernest Hemingway ... or is it?

By Steve Siciliano

I was sitting at the bar puffing on my pipe and rehydrating with a Tito’s and soda at La Ola, a touristy watering hole in the ultra-touristy Times Square section of Ft. Meyers Beach, when I noticed an impeccably dressed, white-haired gentleman sitting at an open-air table giving me the once over. Unlike the gentleman at the table, I was a disheveled mess. Barb and I had walked the three miles up Estero Boulevard, stopping midway for a quick drink and a potty break at the aptly named Liki Tiki, and my ragged blue T-shirt was drenched with sweat. I took off my worn leather baseball cap, admittedly not the best headwear for a long walk in 85-degree heat, grabbed some napkins, wiped my face and wondered why the gentleman was looking at me.

In spite of the hordes of tourists, the Square was one of our favorite spots on the Beach and La Ola was one of our favorite watering holes. We were usually able to snag a couple stools at the small bar and it was entertaining watching Danny, the overworked but friendly and incredibly efficient bartender, expertly whipping up endless rounds of colorful fufu drinks. The other live entertainment, a singer/guitarist from Iowa named Johnnie Walker, began at one o’clock and by one-thirty the place was usually hopping.

I sat at the bar sipping my drink and smoking my pipe and listening to the music. Every so often I glanced over at the white-haired gentleman. Apparently, he had lost interest in me because he had turned his attention to the attractive elderly woman, also impeccably dressed, sitting with him. When Johnnie Walker began playing a very passable rendition of a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune, he sprang up and grabbed the woman’s arm and they joined the throng of alcohol-fueled dancers. When the song ended, he made his way through the crowd, walked up to the bar and stood next to me.