The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

Y’all come now, ya hear: Everyone says “yes” to Key West

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


Y’all come now, ya hear.

You know how polite people invite house guests to come stay a while? And, how polite people smile and say “sure” and never show up?

That’s not Key West. Nope, invite house guests to Key West and they actually come. As I told my husband, “finally, we live in a place where people will show up.” I’ve got this refrigerator magnate that says: “Life on an island: Everyone says yes.”

I like house guests. Well, except for that one Martha Stewart Christmas when I thought elegant menus for a good-china feast, fresh flowers, a four-layer scratch cake and dainty hand towels were things I could pull off with panache. I’ll spare you the details. Disaster. Ended up crying in my bedroom as my family considered an intervention. Now, it’s “get the peanut butter” and “how about take out”?

Strangers, once they discover I live in Key West, become best friends. In February, I traded business cards on an Atlanta-to-Charlottesville leg of a Delta flight. She, her husband and two friends are coming next week. OK, so they’re not moving in with us, but still, that would not have happened if she’d learned I lived in Rockford, IL.

A ex-boss with whom our final parting was not exactly pleasant emailed for an invitation and suggestions on what to do with his kids when he comes to Key West this summer. Excuse me? Oh, what the heck; I sent back a gracious invitation and an itinerary. Welcome to Key West.

I do have some rules. Family and fast friends are welcome to food and lodging for a week; after that they chip in. No maid service. We don’t cook much, but you can use the can opener. Entertain yourselves; we still work for a living.

No elegant menus or four-layer scratch cakes; there’s always peanut butter. Use inside voices even outside. We don’t want problems with the neighbors who disagree with your politics. Oh, and the four cats stay, so bring your antihistamine.

I do have customized itineraries at the hand. There’s the family-who-loves-doing water-stuff list; the educate–the-kids week; the gay boys and girls agenda complete with drag queens at La Te Da; the Duval Street shopping tour; and, the ubiquitous sunset sails, Conch Train and visit to the Hemingway House. Or, you can just read your Kindle on the porch while sipping an adult beverage. Our mango tree happily transforms its offspring.

A month from now, Spring Break ends, snow birds go back to the north woods and flights no longer cost $1,000. It’s a good time to visit. Key West goes from crazy to laid back along about Memorial Day. Yeah, it’s hot but we’re not uncivilized down here. We do have air conditioning, you know.

So, y’all come, ya hear. Well, except for Memorial Day; that’s booked. Just don’t be expecting Martha Stewart in the kitchen.

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of KeyWestWatch Media. Contact her at













  1. mike gushee

    read another very enjoyable column in yesterday’s Tampa Tribune making me once more ready to
    sell my quiet home on the edge of the woods and move back to the Keys.
    Lived there from 1978-95 working for Pantry Pride Stores while my lady friend was employed at
    The Reach….transferred briefly to Marathon area before deciding to get off the rock.
    Bought property in Highlands County and became laid back while lady friend became bored….she
    decided to invest in a CDL and has been driving tractor trailers for 3 years and making money.
    So,I have been giving serious thought to selling properties up here and trying my luck once more in the ever changing Key’s atmosphere.
    Will always enjoy your Florida Voices,
    Mike Gushee

    • Linda Grist Cunningham

      I think one either loves or hates Key West. And, if one loves it, as you seem to do, then Key West is never too far from your heart. Come on back. You know you want to. No, you need to.

  2. Greg

    I keep saying this, but one of these days I’m going to take you up on it!
    I already live in paradise, however, an “island” paradise would be fun.

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