Friends with Yachts
Art Basel ~ The Venetian Marina ~ Satire
Escape from winter! I promised this story to my IG followers earlier this year and here it is. I invite you to critique my work in the comment section. Be naughty and nice. What did I do well? What did I do wrong?
*Autofiction. Copyright, Charlotte Dune 2022
**THIS IS SATIRE.
Every person needs a friend with a yacht. The bigger the yacht, the better you are at living. This is a Miami prerequisite, the penultimate pursuit, and I am not alone. LionFlute and PoisonBee are also on the boat, which is almost a yacht, technically a yacht, though likely the smallest vessel one could grant such a term to—a baby boy yacht.
The bigger the yacht, the better you are at living.
Owning the yacht is too much work. That’s why Friends with Yachts is a superior program. No one wants that work—the insurance, the payroll, the rotating door of junkie captains, or over-payed, over-sunned old lads with wrinkly skin who must tend the deck and push the ropes. No.
The better deal, the solid slot, is Friends with Yachts.
You slurp Veuve Clicquot; you sign no papers. You make Anna Delvey into a noun, a verb, an adjective.
You Delvey all day.
My Friends with Yachts is LionFlute, who I met in elementary school. I’m not cool or hot or even smart, but I always have drugs, so he invites me. And we go way back. Always.
I am the fat friend with the shrooms and the jokes and the bagels, though mostly we do not eat the bagels except in secret, late at night, while blacked out and hungry, struggling to open the tricky yacht doors and cabinets, all of which must weirdly latch shut to prevent them from vomiting out the cabin contents should we encounter rough seas. As if anyone would yacht on rough seas.
Another ridiculous thing I’ve learned about yachts since moving to Florida and reuniting with LionFlute is that they actually don’t go very far or very fast.
You can’t really yacht around the world. Yachts need thousands of dollars of gas constantly and you have to refuel them with exotic oil costing beaucoup d’argent. They’re basically toddlers in the form of a condo you push out a few feet from the Miami shoreline and yell, “LOOK AT ME! My thing floats!” They are private islands for men who can’t afford private islands. Unless it’s a mega yacht, a Beyoncé yacht, a Bezos yacht—those are more expensive than private islands, but those are 100% not this boat.
We’re running late because LionFlute is yelling at the bank lady about the insurance company and a delayed check. When you’re rich, you pay other people to pay other people.
“Ugh,” he groans, “Two days late; 2,000 dollars more. Scam. It’s a scam. Where does it even go?”
I’m not sure if he’s talking to himself or to his latest iPhone.
PoisonBee and I go outside for privacy.
“We used to let them suck the skin off our legs,” she tells me, pointing to the tarpons swimming beside the boat.
“What? That’s disgusting.”
“Well, we did it,” she swigs mezcal and soda water and rolls her green eyes. “That’s that Tampa life.”
I suspect some of her stories are lies but aren’t everyone’s?
Yacht boys, mushroom brownies, NFT holograms, breast milk ice cream, almond breath, girls in rain slickers smoking cigarettes and sweating in harsh sunlight—these are the things we have to look forward to today at Art Basel Miami Beach.
We give ourselves fake names like native braves, double words meant to encapsulate some perfect truth about our nature—Instagram handles stretched and pulled like saltwater taffy into real life. I have one too. I’m called BigKitchen, and like LionFlute, my identity hinges on things my Granddaddy did, but that’s another story for another day.
Back to the boat. Its original name was “Always More,” but seeming too blatant a reflection of his own human greed, LionFlute convinced his mommy, the real yacht owner, to change the name to “Perfect Fit” which simply is a lie, because it’s not the right fit for LionFlute’s majestic mane of corn-on-the-cob-colored man locks. It’s too small. “We need a bigger one. I’m gonna flip this and get a bigger one,” he often repeats.
Taupe suede covers every surface of the boat’s interior, even the ceiling. The entire thing looks like how I imagine Kim Kardashian’s boudoir. Red wine is no longer allowed aboard, for obvious reasons, yet LionFlute wears white, cutoff jean shorts. How long can they stay clean? His flutes, about ten, of various shapes and sizes, materials both synthetic and natural, are mounted beside the flat-screen TV on the wall of the yacht’s main and only living room.
LionFlute is an irrigation engineer, though he likes to tell people he’s a plumber. Being working class is so cool these days. Mostly he’s pure flaneur. Same with PoisonBee, a debutant in a tiger-striped bikini, scrawny as a pipe cleaner. Both of them do situps and planks obsessively and eat only olives, a few unsalted peanuts, and the rare empanada. They drink Bud light, vodka, Mezcal, and iced coffee in that order if you track their habits from afternoon to afternoon.
He’s off the phone, and we must ready ourselves for Basel. It’s time to ART.
PoisonBee’s toxic confidence is infectious and I change outfits, donning a Zebra print dress that I found in an African thrift store, pairing it with pink, rubber clogs, and oversized green sunglasses from the Bayside Marketplace, a treasure trove of cheap posing as expensive. Fitting.
In Miami, if you don’t have a friend with a yacht, you’re a loser
PBee flitters around the demi-yacht’s four bedrooms, flat ironing her thin, bleached hair, checking out her waify, spray-tanned body in different mirrors, different crop-tops that she airbrushed herself. I’m the only brunette aboard and I’m about 100 pounds larger than her, though she constantly complains to me that she’s gained five pounds.
If we were 25, everything would be better, but we’re nearing 40. This is it. The rest of our dream. Life’s second half. Encore.
In Miami, if you don’t have a friend with a yacht, you’re a loser, and the more expensive the yacht is, the less of a loser you are.
I climb to the top deck, holding my streaked, silk sundress against my cellulite-laden thighs because the early afternoon wind is trying to blow the fabric up like Marylin Monroe, but I haven’t shaved my legs in weeks, as I work from home and only leave my house when invited to opportunities involving psychedelics and sea vessels. Otherwise, I’m full sasquatch.
On top, PoisonBee and I pass LionFlute’s five-year-old daughter’s binoculars back and forth to search the Miami bay for Leonardo DiCaprio’s boat, only it isn’t his boat. He’s also doing Friends with Yachts, reportedly spending the weekend on some Italian giganaire’s 100 million-foot floating city of models.
“If you find it, we’ll pull up,” LionFlute says, turning the shallow grass music up louder, joining us on the deck in a red Japanese satin robe with silver dragons embroidered on the back, no shirt under it, and another mezcal in hand. It’s a remix he’s blasting, of that 70s song about a douche in the night.
“Call the Uber,” I yell over the music, “Traffic’s only getting worse.”
Docked behind a Holiday Inn on the mainland, our yacht is TOO big to take to South Beach where we’re headed. (To ART. Yes, to ART.) There are no available public docks large enough there for OUR yacht. Quelle woe.
We must ride from The Venetian in an Uber, like regular Florida plebes. Like, UGH, tourists.
The Venetian sounds fancy, but really it’s a shitty marina with bird poop all over it and homeless Black people beside piles of shopping bags on the other side of its iron-barred, rusty gates. I say ‘Black people’ because that’s an accurate description. Is that ok to say? As a middle-aged hillbilly-outta-water, or rather, out on the water, I never know what’s ok to say. I wonder.
Every few hours, the Miami-Dade police come and relocate the homeless people, then the cops leave, and the homeless return with their bags.
LadyOphelia joins us on the upper deck. I didn’t realize she was on the boat, but apparently, she was passed out in the master chambers. She’s a real artist, specializing in extremely miniature and complicated crotchet work, mostly of pigeons dressed like trolls. One of her pigeons is in a museum in Alabama, which, to us, means she’s made it in the art world. Well, at least she’s made the pigeons.
LionFlute and I are from Appalachia, a fancy word for West Virginia, but Poison and Lady are bred right here in the Sunshine State, regular Florida flamingos.
My only goal is bliss.
Lady yawns, and echoing my worries says, “If we don’t leave right now, it’ll take all day.”
PoisonBee is anxious to leave too because she’s got a booth of electric bracelets she’s selling in Wynwood, in the pay-to-play, let-anyone-in tent, and she wants us to see those bracelets. We’re supposed to visit her booth before it closes at 9 pm, but I know we won’t. The logistics are impossible, especially if we eat dinner, as impossible as any of us women actually owning this yacht.
The bracelets are also all over the boat, on the sofas, counters, beds, and in the oval windowsills. We all put a few on, wrists glowing with neon metal snakes and flashing eyes as we descend the million-dollar waterproof steps to the velveteen beige kitchen and pour our mezcal cocktails into to-go cups and swallow magic mushroom pellets.
LadyOphelia takes double the amount of everyone else, though I tell her not to.
Oh well, my dark eyebrows like McDonald’s arches; there she goes…
The Uber finally arrives. We board. Chevy noir. “Speak French,” I say. “French is for those who ART.” The Uber Driver only speaks Spanish. The shroom pellets kick in a mile from our destination. Whoosh.
I’m grinning. The 70s remix is grooving and loud. “I’m a sex machine, baby,” the singer sings. We roll down the windows, showing off our oversized, pink-tinted sunglasses to the people passing by—because below Uber plebes, there are pedestrians.
Outside the SUV, the weather is perfect: 78 degrees and sunny, a gentle breeze, cotton-ball clouds, swaying palm trees, bronze women in bikinis and fishnet t-shirts, thongs, and exquisite breasts, but I can see the red line on the Uber’s phone map. It’s gonna be another 15 minutes to crawl that mile.
From the back row, LionFlute is blowing high notes across a bamboo piccolo attached to a chain-link gold necklace.
“Are we there yet?” LadyOphelia whines, a crown of strawberry-brown braids and flowers wrapped around her dainty, Floridian skull. “I can’t wait to get out.” She’s sweating and miserable and has the look of someone who took too much.
I told you so…
It’s like we’ve been doing this our whole lives. This is our fifth Art Basel together. We MUST MUST MUST get to the Scope Tent! It’s always the best tent! Even its bathrooms are pristine!
Lion blows louder. My dad once described him as a man lacking in a high school education, though he’s actually a college grad.
UberDriver turns up the music.
My only goal is bliss. And in the process, I’ll evade parenting and packing school lunches for 48 hours, and maybe wrangle some art, haggle, be fabulous, and feel rich, though probably not at Scope where the art is mucho expensivo like the yacht petrol. Can’t be buying no $50k painting of a rubber ducky wearing a used condom, but maybe in the next tent, or the next tent, or the next tent is where I might snag a piece.
You never know. The dream is the deal; the hustle is the resale.
The dream is the deal; the hustle is the resale.
Trapped in the black Suburban, we plan a hypothetical artist management business called “Appreciate It.”
“Double meaning,” Lion says, head swaying, lips puckered.
“Should be ‘Appreciate,’” I respond. “People love single, vague words; look at Target.”
A quarter mile from the beach, we open the doors at a red light and evacuate.
“Thank fucking God,” LadyOphelia says and lights a blunt. She’s so skinny, almost too skinny, with tan, bony arms and long nails, her elbows like cherry tree branches in the winter, and I wish I could be her in every way.
I pretend I’m beautiful. The shroom pellets, which we call vitamins, make everything come alive. I’m as stunning as the seascape. My thighs sweat and stick together. They’ll be red and raw tomorrow, but today… Today we ART! Today, we Delvey.
“To the Art! To the water! To the tents!” Lion throws his thick, silver-ringed finger to the sky like a javelin, his waist-length blond hair out of its man-bun and blowing in the tropical winter’s breeze, a gale now, directing us to the eastern edge of southern U.S.A., to where Gianni Versace’s murderer drank in the sunrise. We bend forward in the wind gusts, holding onto our sunglasses, and we march, tripping to the white roofs, to the money-stuffed tents of Art Basel, Miami beach.
I’ll buy something, just a little something. Maybe a resin popsicle full of razor blades, or a silver mylar balloon shaped in the word DOOM. I’ll appreciate it. I can afford it. I’ll treat myself like the world is my treat—like I earned it. I could be somebody too. I am, aren’t I? Aren’t we all?
Every tent is a possibility. Every artwork is a promise.
And there’s always more until there isn’t.
The writing behind the writing:
This short story was originally inspired by:
I also drew from:
And, of course, I draw from real life.
And steal from everyone’s favorite thief—Anna Delvey
Thanks for reading Charlotte Dune's Lagoon! This is a publication for people who like variety. I write fiction, non-fiction, and sometimes poetry. I welcome guest writers to contribute. Subscribe for free to receive new posts, or buy one of my novels to support my work.