ONLY IN THE KEYS by Jana Vandelaar

Whoever invented wicker should be shot

The ReporterJuly 3, 2014 

I went to the foot doctor the other day and complained about my feet aching. She asked if I had tile flooring. Duh. Who doesn’t in the Keys? 

To be honest, we were one of the last in the Keys who held out and lived with a dead carpet, years past its prime, before we finally replaced it with a shiny new tile floor last year. However, I had no clue that my aches and pains were caused from walking barefoot on this type of flooring. I would have thought the flattened padding under the ancient carpet would have prepped my legs for the daily impact. 

Apparently not.

To solve this dilemma, I promptly ran to the store and purchased some new rugs to throw strategically over the tile. Didn’t really solve the problem. 

Covering a huge tiled floor with a few rugs is like trying to cover my large butt with a string bikini bottom. Obviously, carpets are like full-piece swimming suits, and I sort of miss the coverage. My body is built for carpeting.

This leads me to a bigger problem about home furnishings in the Keys. Wicker furniture. What’s the story about wicker? I get that someone, maybe in an Indian tribe, weaved a couple of large baskets together and flipped them upside down to sit on them in their teepee while eating corn or bison cooked over a fire pit. 

But I’m sure they were wearing leather pants or fur dresses when they were squatting on this wonderful new furniture. Wicker does not work with shorts.

When I first moved here, wicker was the only furniture I could afford. I had a wicker loveseat and a couple of wicker chairs as my living room decor. Same thing with the outdoor mesh chairs (a chaise lounge was my $29 reclining bed, and I considered a it luxury.) 

But, the wicker and the mesh taught my skin to dimple. Before I moved here, I had great legs. Now I have cellulite, and it’s not only because of excessive McDonald’s visits. I’m blaming it mostly on the wicker and the mesh. In other words, my cellulite is actually celluwicker or meshulite.

When I finally could afford real furniture, I bought couches and chairs with plush cushions and an official bed. However, I stayed with the Keys vibe and made sure the chair material had a breezy palm tree print and the bedspread had a colorful flowery design. It looked like I stepped into a jungle inspired by Lady Gaga.

As I got older and had kids, I realized leather furniture is truly the only way to live, simply because it can be wiped clean. However, leather furniture in the Keys is generally a white or a cream color, which shows every smudge. At least in colder states they have the darker leather furniture. Sure, it’s usually adorned with heavy gold bullets and deer hooves, but at least you don’t see the dirt as easily. 

I guess it could be worse. If you’ve ever watched <i>Duck Dynasty<i>, some of them have chairs with a green, camouflage material. I’d rather wipe smudges all day than have a chair covered with army fatigues.

Something we don’t really have adorning Keys homes are heaters. I grew up with a big, square iron grill somewhere in every room. The sound of the heater kicking in was one of the happiest moments of my life. Especially since my dad, the father of four kids on a teacher’s income, believed in keeping the heater set at 60. 

Nippy had an entirely different meaning during my childhood, yet it truly described our lifestyle… especially after taking a shower.

Here in the Keys, we all have air conditioners, either sticking out of a window in each room or centralized throughout the house. But, air conditioners aren’t enough for me. I don’t walk into a room unless I have a confirmed sighting of a ceiling fan. Surprisingly, I can completely relate to a Sports Illustrated model during a swimming suit photo session. Neither of us can live without our fans. Of course, their hair is flowing behind them, making them look even sexier, whereas my hair has the “flattened ceiling fan” look, making me a spitting image of “Cousin Itt” from <i>The Addams Family.<i>

We also have a lot of glass tables here in the Keys. I never thought I’d eat off a table with a dolphin staring up at me through the glass tabletop. It’s a little disconcerting, but it’s better than having a stuffed cheetah coffee table or a rhino head over the door. Right?

In other words, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I love the Keys, so I’ll just embrace the Cousin Itt look and grow my hair long enough to cover the celluwicker on my legs. Problem solved.

Jana Vandelaar has worked as a freelance writer in the Keys with a loving family, fun friends and smelly pups for more than 20 years. Check out her website at for more books available online or ‘Like’ her Facebook page at JanabananaINK for daily smiles about life as she sees and lives it. If you enjoy her articles, Jana has a book titled, “ONLY IN THE KEYS, Snort-Laughing Stories About Life In The Florida Keys.” This is a fun book full of Jana’s most popular articles written for The Reporter since 2008. It’s available at Randy’s Florida Keys Gifts, MM 102.4 or at Hooked On Books, MM 81.9.

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