Mandy Miles releases ‘Dos and Don’ts’
… just in time for Spring Break
Keys Weekly: Hold on, so you really can’t see the lights of Havana from the Southernmost Point at night?! What other good tips can locals learn from the book?
Mandy Miles: Yeah, I don’t know where that Havana falsehood started, but it’s persisted forever. Some of the other tips in the book cover things like the correct spelling of Hemingway (one m) and Buffett (two t’s), and a warning against trying to save a parking space. There are also funny etiquette tips whether you’re in a bar, on a boat or behind the wheel. One of my personal favorites says, “Don’t embarrass yourself on a rented scooter … incessant honking makes people not like you.” That one may be particularly appropriate given this week’s arrival of another Spring Break season.
Whose beautiful toes grace the front of the book, and where did local photographer Rob O’Neal shoot the cover?
Ha! So many people have asked me about those feet, and I so wish they were mine. But no, the feet belong to Jessi O’Neal. She is photographer Rob O’Neal’s sister-in-law, and was relaxing on a boat near Marvin Key when Rob snapped that stunning photo.
What is your number one do or don’t?
Hmm, that’s a tough one, but I’d have to say my No. 1 tip is the very first one in the book – “Do…Make yourself at home. As locals, we’re truly glad you’re here, and will do our best to show you a good time.”
And that’s true. The vast majority of locals in this town understand the importance of tourism to our island city, and they really do want to make a good impression on our visitors. On the flip side, there are some things visitors can do to ensure they’ll be welcomed back by the locals. (Such as, not requesting “Margaritaville,” the song, unless you’re in Margaritaville, the bar.)
How did you end up in the Keys? (Not saying you enjoy the weather and the people…)
Actually, a summer job on the boardwalk in my hometown of Ocean City, New Jersey led me to the Keys. From the time I was 15 until 20 or so, I worked for Bob and Kathie Morris and their daughter, Christine Ross, who owned shops on the Ocean City boardwalk. They spent their winters in the Keys, and I first came down to visit them when I was just 16. This is where I learned to snorkel, water ski and savor fresh fish. After that, I took a scuba diving class in college – for credit! – and did my check-out dives during a Spring Break dive trip here. I knew by my senior year that I had to live here, “just for a year, to get it out of my system.” So much for that … 18 years later!
Do you know anyone who has been voted off the island? What did they do?
This one could get me in trouble, but I think we may all know of a few folks who were formally voted off the island by the court system – and spent some time in enforced exile, whether for illegal substances or public corruption charges.
But Key West is often willing to forgive and quick to forget.
This is your third book, along with your compilations of newspaper columns ‘Tan Lines,’ what can fans expect next?
Thanks for asking! I’ve actually just started sorting through my most recent “Tan Lines” columns for the next volume. I’ve also started jotting down some notes and ideas for another fun and useful book of tourist tips, but this one with a different and more specific theme.
Hopefully, at least one of them will be out in time for Christmas.
Key West Dos and Don’ts is available online in paperback and Kindle editions at amazon.com, and at Key West Island Books, the Custom House Museum, Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, Last Chance Gifts at Key West International Airport and Boondocks Grill. Mandy Miles is a long-time Keys journalist with the Key West Citizen.