BLOCK ISLAND, R.I. — I order the Caesar salad, piquing my wife’s curiosity. After all, I have often said that this is the place where five years ago I had the best piece of swordfish I have ever tasted.
Yet, perhaps it’s not such a bold decision. After the previous night’s salmon and the afternoon’s tuna sandwich, the tempting menu at Sharkey’s, my favorite restaurant on Block Island, is more a seafood blur than a sell. The allure of the evening special barbecue spare ribs passes with a certainty that I need some greens. It’s a good salad. Not good enough to talk about for five years, but good enough to tempt the man on the stool next to me to order the same.
Kathleen and I get to talking with him, a delightful island owner who I guess is in his mid-60s. He resides full time in Narragansett. He tells us that his daughter bartends on the island, and I wonder if we just ran into her at the National Hotel, the hilltop landmark where I had a pair of Mount Gay Diet Cokes an hour ago.
He professes that his daughter needs to stop living on island time and move on with life.
“Everybody should do it at some point, when they’re young,” Kathleen argues.
“She’s 34,” our bar-mate replies.
I envy her. Not that slinging drinks is any sort of personal goal, but this unknown woman has latched onto the quiet, unassuming lifestyle of this magnificent island 12 miles off the coast of Point Judith.
We’ve stayed all over the island — the quaint room at the Harborside Inn, the rental overlooking Rodman’s Hollow, and on this trip, the bungalow at the Sea Breeze Inn. This is where Kathleen admitted that she was convinced I would propose to her, beneath the magnificent cliffs of Mohegan Bluffs Beach.
This had been our escape, the party island of our pre-parental days. It’s nice to be back, to recapture our place for a few days, though in a much different manner.
We understand what compels folks like our bar friend to invest on the island, as out of reach as that may be for most of us these days, judging by a quick glance of the real estate listings in the Block Island Times. The man seems genuinely happy.
Nonetheless, he takes a sip of his drink and reveals, “I’m having bypass surgery next month.”
Even here, on our wonderful escape, reality sets in.
We pay the bill, wish our new friend good night — and good luck — and walk to the nearby Manisses Hotel, where we enjoy dessert and espressos in the lobby’s parlor.
Next time we’ll likely come with children in tow. It’s only been two days, but I miss our boys all the same. Despite being so close off the coast, at this moment the island seems far away.