It Happened in Key West

Dearest readers,

This is an excerpt out of an email I’d sent a friend back in February of last year during a destination wedding I’d shot in Key West. I was going through old emails a few weeks ago and found this story that I’d completely forgotten about. You must understand that while either excited, caffeinated, intoxicated, or cold, my emails are sporadic at best, often to the point of incomprehension. I actually tend to write with all the calm and serenity of one of those tiny, nervous Chihuahuas. The ones that shake all the time, and pee if you pick them up. Except I don’t shake all the time.

But I digress.

As I’ll once again be in the Keys shortly, I thought it only fitting to share this story with you, my sometimes faithful, oft-times intoxicated, always lovable friends and followers, whom I sincerely adore.

All the best.



So, the place I stayed was directly on the water. This would be better with pictures (that’s what she said) HAHAahah… really, this would be better with pictures. BUT….back of this nice house, big dock, which around the dock the water was like…8 feet deep…and dark…and sharks…because I caught one..booyah……but seriously like…40 feet away from the dock the water was about 3 feet deep. Perfectly clear, coral sandy bottom….hehehe..I said bottom…..but, all around the dock was deep for boats to get to the dock. Once you get away from the dock, the water is shallow. Remind me to tell you the story of trying to kayak really fast through the deep water to get into the shallow water. Yeah. I fell out. In the deep part. I probably inked like a scared octopus, but I can’t remember.


So they had these kayaks that you could paddle around the 234234 miles of 3 foot deep water and explore. First day, there’s Brett in his bigarse kayak, a mile from anything solid to stand on, looking in the water. And then, there’s a huge, huge stingray that swims under the kayak really slowly. It was so freaking perfect! My first day in the Keys, in my kayak, alone in my element of danger and exploring the wild as it was meant to be. I, Brett Birdsong, overweight, pasty-white, abnormally hairy pansy of a man that I am, was alone in the water with the heartless bastard that killed Steve Irwin. Or at least one that knew the one that did it. Bastards.

I will pause here to say the wind was blowing extremely hard. And I was the only idiot in a kayak on the water that I could see for miles around. Because if you stopped paddling like hell, the wind would blow you 30 miles an hour…I’m sorry…knots….30 knots….in whatever direction the wind was blowing.

To continue.

So there goes this huge stingray under the kayak. I start paddling in my furious pudgy man fashion in it’s general direction, and after about 5 minutes I caught up with it. Then I remembered I had my fishing pole with me, and I should then try to hook the thing. Why? Because that’s what you do when you’re in the water with something that could kill you. You want to catch it and pet it. So there I go, put the paddle down, grab the fishing pole, cast the line out over the thing and try to drag the hook back across it. Nothing. Went right over it. Slimy bastards. Of course by that time the wind had blown me halfway to Cuba, so there I go again, paddling like hell to catch my now arch-nemesis of the sea.

The above process lasted for about 15 minutes. Paddle, cast, curse, paddle paddle paddle, cast, curse.

By this time I was getting severely frustrated. I hated the stingray. I loathed it. I finally managed to paddle the kayak directly over the thing, which was now sitting still, and my then brilliant idea was to poke it with the paddle.

Yes, really.

Let me again pause to say wine may or may not have been involved.

So there I am, paddle in mid air, on it’s descent down into the 3 foot deep water to touch the bastard of death….and then this magical thought process (which takes all of 3 seconds) goes through my mind; if that thing gets scared, it will whip it’s tail up, which will most likely come through the kayak and spear my junk, or somewhere close thereto. I don’t want to be speared in the junk by a stingray. I probably shouldn’t poke this stupid thing.

The magical part was that while this brief yet untimely bit of logic was starting to develop… hands, and the paddle, had gained momentum and kept hurling downward…so at the precise moment that the paddle touched the stingray, all thoughts came together, and I shrieked like a little girl. I screamed actually. Rather loudly. I was going to die from a poisonous poke in the junk. In Key West. From that point on, I would be forever known as the idiot wedding photographer that died from a poisonous junk poke…..

And it was a rock.

A big, round, brownish gray…..rock. With a little ridge of rock going down the backside, disappearing into the sand, aka the tail.

Absolutely identical to a huge stingray.

And as I poked it again repeatedly to be sure…the wind picked up….and started blowing me away from the rock-ray. Which gave the illusion that it was swimming away from me again.

And then the flood of emotion hit….. from being almost given the junk-poke of death, to realizing what an absolute moron it would take to fight a rock in the ocean for almost half an hour…….and I laughed hysterically. By myself. In my kayak. Blowing at 30 knots on my way to Cuba.

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