Ana Marie Cox's Girlfriend Getaway to South Beach

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Day one: Five sunscreens, four hairbrushes, seven bathingsuits

6:50 A.M.

When the alarm went off at 5 A.M., the husband and the dog were still asleep. I reminded self that the ungodly hour is saving Kate and me money, and maximizing the three days we're spending in sunny Miami. Debated showering and decided not to. First text message from Kate: "Ugh." We arranged to meet at the American Airlines ticket counter, where we were presented with a difficult choice: First-class upgrade? Commit to budget travel? It was only a hundred dollars. We're worth it, right? I swiped the card.

On the plane, we discover that, together, we have packed:

  • Five sunscreens (ranging from SPF 8 to 45; the might-as-well-wear-a-burka variety is for me, the chalky redhead with multiple birthmarks)
  • Seven different types of moisturizers (including aloe in gel and cream form, a sunless tanner, and shea butter)
  • 15 magazines, none with a reading level above eighth grade (Vogue may cater to expensive tastes, but the syllable count is still pretty low), most with a reading level of about "Jessica Simpson." (She's in a lot of them, too.) 
  • Four hairbrushes
  • Five pairs of shoes (a new low!)
  • Seven bathing suits (they're pretty much the only thing we plan on wearing)
  • 10:30 A.M.

    A long, muggy ride from the airport deposits us at the Key Biscayne Ritz-Carlton. I dispatch Kate to work her amazing upgrade karma at the front desk while I try to ignore the dozens and dozens of children in the lobby. Marble is pretty but shrieks echo. The idea of waiting until 11--just 30 more minutes--for oceanfront drink service to commence becomes increasingly unlikely. It appears we have arrived smackdab in the middle of some kind of Very Loud Children Weekend. Kate returns with room keys--no upgrade, but checking in at 10:30 seems to validate her good luck. Until we get to the room.

    The room faces the street, and there's no view of the ocean, which is the very thing we have come to see. This alone would not be so bad but for the room's other, exponentially more depressing feature: a kitchenette. First with the screaming children, now a kitchenette. We go on vacation to escape these things. Kate hits the mark: "We don't cook at home! Why would we cook here?"

    We spend five minutes imagining the retiree couple that would enjoy the room. We photograph it and agree it looks even more depressing in the photos. Then we call the front desk. Or, rather, Kate does. I have faith.

    Faith and $95 more dollars a night gets us a pleasant, ocean-view room. Budget travel is all about the rationalizations; that's $95 a night we won't spend in search of a better view. We're on the beach with drinks by 11 A.M.

    7 P.M.

    I think the first delicious lobster quesadilla came at noon, along with the second round of margaritas. Things become a little blurry after that, but we do meet a charming hotel employee named Brian who conducts our first of many photo sessions. It's amazing how many photos a man will take if requested by two women in bathing suits surrounded by margarita glasses.

    I call my husband from the room--our glorious, non-old-person room--and he asks how the drinking is going. "Oh," I say, embarrassed, "I think we had about seven..."

    Husband: "Not each, though, right?"
    Me: "Uhm, yeah. Of course not! Not each."

    9 A.M.

    Dinner was room service with a bottle of wine, and we both wake up early with nearly full glasses on the night stand. In the interest of a budget travel conservation mindset, I take a bunch of things out of the minibar that I know we won't want--energy drinks, juice, regular Coke--and precariously balance the half-full wine bottle on what's left.

    Oh, and then there was our early wake-up. The one around 3 A.M., during which we sent photos, including one of me and the old-person room's microwave, to friends with no context offered.

    The paper is flipped through but not read. This trip was not designed to expand our intellects.

    Kate calls her husband, and he too asks for a drinking report.

    Kate: "Seven."
    Husband: "One an hour? Not bad."

    We love our husbands very much.

    Day two: More lobster quesedillas

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