You just never know who you will see walking around our Ocean Club!
- Reprinted from Ocean Club Magazine, July 2004

By Abby Rose Aaron

“Abby, I’d like you to meet my guest so and so.” It seems like I hear that phrase daily from Ocean Club neighbors when I walk around our luscious green grounds. I usually don’t remember the name of the person I am meeting but the word “guest” sticks with me. Here a guest, there a guest, everywhere a guest. In the year we’ve lived here, we’ve had our fair share of guests. I don’t know where they come from but they come. It’s this resort-type atmosphere that makes people want to visit us. Let me tell you about my most recent guest.

I was a new member of the National Speakers Association and attending a Speakers Convention in Burbank, California when I first met Jeanne Robertson. I knew no one when I walked into the opening reception filled with professional speakers. I am not a shy person so I had no trouble introducing myself. And introduce I did to a strikingly attractive woman standing near me. I knew instantly it was Jeanne Robertson, one of the top professional speakers in the nation. I was thrilled. She was someone I hoped to meet at the convention.

“Hi, I’m Abby Rose from Miami. One day, I want to do what you do.”

“Well, hello Abby Rose.  What do you speak on?” she answered with a beautiful smile and genuine interest. I could see why she had once won the title of Miss North Carolina.

Flattered that she even bothered to ask I said, “Well, I’ve done a lot of marathons and I use my stories to motivate others to achieve their goals.”

Her eyes lit up. “Well, Abby Rose, I want to do what you do. I’ve always wanted to walk one of those 26 mile merryathons.” I liked her southern way of talking and I could see why she had once won the title of Miss Congeniality at the Miss America Pageant. Many people give lip service to their wish that they too could run or walk a marathon, but there was something about this woman’s excitement that told me she was sincere and motivated.

“Well Jeanne, you certainly can do one. And I’d be happy to help you,” I found myself saying.

She began power walking the next week. I helped her train using email and it worked. One year later, I was proud to be there when Jeanne crossed the Myrtle Beach Marathon finish line.

Both President Bush and Oprah have completed marathons. When I helped my buddy Jeanne prepare I sometimes thought that her schedule was even more challenging that both President Bush and Oprah’s put together. Jeanne was able to find humor in the rigorous demands of marathon training. She is a professional humorist. Her job is to make people laugh. And make people laugh she does. She speaks to huge convention audiences as well as small conferences and averages twenty days a month on the road speaking. In spite of her hectic schedule Jeanne found the time to train. One of Jeanne’s messages that she shares with her audiences is that a sense of humor is an attitude and an approach to working with people. She strongly believes that a humor attitude can be developed and improved. She mesmerizes her audiences with hilarious, reality-based stories from her many experiences.

When Jeanne told me she was coming to Miami for a speaking engagement I was ecstatic!  It was time to get the guest room ready again. I invited Jeanne to stay with us.

“Do you have room for a guest?” Jeanne wanted to know. She had visited us in our previous home and had thought we were nuts when I had told her last year we were downsizing to a condo. She immediately drawled, “Will there be room in that little biddy place for me?” Did I mention that Jeanne is six-feet-two inches tall? Her question made sense.

The trip was typical. One flight was delayed and another cancelled. Seventeen bags of tiny pretzels for breakfast later, this normally energetic humorist was dragging by the time she folded her legs into my PT burgundy cruiser and we headed toward our island. After we passed the toll booth Jeanne began to unwind. I had seen other guests relax and I could tell that Jeanne was leaving reality behind. She was getting into vacation mode. We passed runners running and cyclist cycling. Jeanne observed, “Be a nice place to train for a marathon.”

Jeanne’s idea of condo living was like the one I had before seeing Ocean Club.  She was thinking small bathrooms, cramped kitchens, and typical tubs. For more than forty years, my friend Jeanne has traveled throughout the country and spoken at the most elegant five-star hotels and resorts. Besides being funny, she’s one of the most down-to-earth people I know.  And amazingly honest. I watched her facial expression as we stepped into our private elevator. Determined to like our condo, she looked around the elevator and said, “This is real nice, Abby. It’s bigger than I thought.” I guess I had forgotten to tell her we had private elevators.

But when she stepped into our place, the speaker was speechless. Her funny quips stopped. Her head bobbed left, right. Left. Right, as she took in panoramic ocean views and plopped her luggage on the bed. I gave her a glass of water and then the tour. I felt like a real estate agent as I showed her all the little special features I enjoy. I pulled out kitchen cabinets, pointed to my little wine cooler and used one of her favorite expressions “Ta Dah” as I showed her with pride the garbage chute. I like being able to throw garbage away with the press of a button and not dragging bags outside to a garbage can. Moments later I overheard a call to her office assistant back home. ..”And that’s how they throw out their garbage.” Then I heard, “Shift my priorities to speeches in Miami.   I’ve got a new home away from home.”

Although I’ve read her books, seen her videos and had the honor of attending many of Jeanne’s presentations I welcomed the opportunity to attend her presentation the next day. On her website which is aptly named I saw Jeanne’s mantra which is ” Keep ‘em laughing”.  And boy did she keep them laughing. It was a Saturday morning at 8:30 which I would be a rather tough time to get anyone to laugh. She’s so funny and I loved every minute of her speech. I had to smile when we were driving back and she said she was hungry and couldn’t wait to get “home.”  Here less than 24 hours and she was already calling our place “home.”

We walked the beach. We laughed and we talked. We headed downtown and vowed not to leave ‘til we agreed on three weird sights. We lunched on veggie wraps at the Grill. And oh yes, when we walked around my "neighborhood," I said to Stephanie and Terry and everyone else I met,” I want you to meet my guest, Jeanne Robertson.”

Who’s your guest?