Special Sauce

A mish-mash of twisted thoughts from a fevered ego. Updated when the spirit moves me, contents vary and may have settled during shipping. Do not open towards eyes. Caution: Ingestion of Special Sauce may cause hair loss, halitosis, and a burning sensation while urinating.


Yeah, But You Won't Believe the View...

This is an old'n'moldy I pulled off of my (now defunct) website. A story I forgot I wrote, during my second trip to Key West. (After that I just decided to save on airfare and move down.) I wince a bit in some spots, and may edit again, but in all, not a bad little bit of something.


Is it July sixth? July seventh? Damned if I can remember. All I know is that it’s Saturday, and I got here sometime on Tuesday. I’m sitting on the beach, and the atmosphere is pure Chamber of Commerce. I look up into the palm trees, not really surprised that there are camera crews stealthily secreted away among the coconuts. The temperature is a balmy 85 degrees, a gentle breeze is rolling in off the water, causing the palms to sway ever so slightly (though, not enough to injure the hidden cameramen) and the metallic notes of a steel drum come drifting my way. I begin to nod off, soothed by the melody, and silently thanking the Chamber for creating a perfect afternoon.

Wait a minute. Isn’t that “Kiss to Build a Dream On?” I’d think that the Chamber of Commerce folks would want something just a little more um, “island” sounding or even some Jimmy Buffett. As the man with the mallets continues to tap out his melodies (segueing into “What a Wonderful World next- hmm, an Armstrong fan) I sit up and scan the area trying to figure out where the tunes are coming from as it sounds too good to be piped in. Just as I am about to ask the cameramen where they’ve got him (perhaps up another tree), I see a conflagration of tropical shirts and dresses, circled around the man with a thing for Louis Armstrong. A few feet away are rows of chairs that look like they’ve been stolen from a conference room at the local Holiday Inn. The blazing tiki torches in front of the chairs worry me. They could mean one of only two things, Parrotheads or ritualistic sacrifice. Perhaps both. Fearing for my life I start humming “Margaritaville” in an attempt to blend in. My shirt is subtly tropical, and I hastily contemplate an attempt to infiltrate their ranks and sneak away without any harm coming to me. Believe me, nothing is worse than a Parrothead who finds out you don’t know about or utterly adore Jimmy Buffett (they have surgically implanted CD players and enough of his CD’s to make your ears bleed).

Of course, I should have known it wasn’t a Parrothead gathering. Smathers is a Margarita-Free beach (thank you, Mayor Weekley), and the steel drum guy wasn’t playing “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” No, this had to be something else. My curiosity piqued, I surreptitiously look at the gaggle of tropically clad folks. Hmm. They’re too normal looking to be tourists or even rabid Parrotheads; they’ve got to be locals, but why the atrocious ensembles? “What the hell is that?” I ask myself out loud. Then it hits me, literally, and I hear a voice from above. “Hey nitwit- it’s a wedding! By the way, have you heard the new live Buffett album?” For a moment, I think I’m hearing God or perhaps Jimmy himself, but then look up and realize it’s just a cameraman. “Sorry about the coconut,” he adds with a red face. “It’s ok; I didn’t need that head anyway.” I told him, and continued, “A wedding. Gotchya. Oh yeah, the new album, I got the liner notes tattooed in a very delicate spot, I loved it that much. Thanks dude.” Christ, those Parrotheads are everywhere. I make a mental note to keep humming “Margaritaville” at all times to ensure my safety. Ahhh…a wedding. Now it all makes sense. Outfits that even Elton John would call “flamboyant”, chairs that shout “bank lobby” in the middle of the sand, Senor Steel Drum and the cameras. “Of course it is a wedding,” I chide myself. (Well, it could have been a Parrothead thing.)

Eventually a limo shows up, and the assembled guests take their seats (mercifully, the wearers are much quieter than their outfits). Mystified I watch the bride come up the macadam aisle, to meet her soon-to-be-husband. Her white gown catches the remnants of sunlight and the sequins and beading attempt to outshine the ocean for a brief moment. Of all the people on the beach, she is the most conservatively attired. Even the groom is wearing a tropical shirt that would be considered a lethal weapon in an optometrist’s shop. The contrast between tradition and tomfoolery is stark, but she does look breathtaking. The steel drums begin the wedding march, and they’re off. She sheds her escort, smiles at her almost-husband and the steel drum falls silent. The crowd sits en masse and two more people are about to get turned into one, even without the aid of duct tape or sutures. At this point, the only things I can hear are clicking shutters and cameramen mumbling softly in their trees. I return to my book happily, and aside from a dull throbbing in my skull (thanks again, Snaps McDropalot) I forget about the wedding. The water tonight is gorgeous, not the crystalline turquoise I’ve come to expect from the Keys, instead it is a delicate ice-blue and mirror smooth. Happy tourists from Michigan slather on SPF 70 and blindingly enter the water. It’s so shallow that they are forced stroll quite a long way out, before even getting past their kneecaps. Those who remain on the beach instinctively don their sunglasses before watching them go any further.

My mind begins to wander as I gaze upon the glassy water. Just as I get to the part where Steve Buscemi arrives with a plate of pitted cherries and a box of Dream Whip, a garbage truck runs over a whale. At least, that’s what it sounds like. If not that, perhaps it was just an owl. A large owl. With pneumonia. My eyes fly open and I instinctively cringe as I look up at my erstwhile friend, the cameraman. “What in the name of all that is holy, was THAT?” I query. “Conch horn,” he replied, “and I said I was sorry about that coconut thing.” “I’m sorry. I just get a little punchy when stuff gets dropped from great heights onto my head.” I remind him, and decided for safety’s sake to refrain from further sudden movements. “What gives with the horned hoopla?” I ask softly. The cameraman examines me like I have an extra head, (and given the swelling on my noggin, that may not be far from the truth). He explains simply, “Oh, they use that whenever there’s a celebration. You’re not from around here, are you?” At that moment another long rumble could be heard for blocks. It sounded like the mating call of one exceptionally lonely yak. “Not a very auspicious sounding start to wedded bliss.” I mumble to myself, ignoring the “not from around here” comment. Instead, I watch the wedding party pose for pictures as the guests mill around getting sand in their loafers.

I turn to my book, as the excitement a few yards away has finally ceased. The wedding party hops back into their limousine, their guests zoom off toward their next destination and the tourists from Michigan emerge from the water at last. A few chapters later my curiosity again gets the best of me, and I look up at my coconut dropping companion. His camera clicks and whirs as he angles to get the best pictures. “So tell me, are you with the Chamber of Commerce?” I ask. He looks down and laughs at me, “I am. How’d you guess?” “Just a hunch,” I told him, “just a hunch.” We laughed for a few moments, as I start packing up my things. I wonder how many pictures of paradise you have to take, before you convince people they not only want to, but need to live here. I guess that’s why I don’t work for the Chamber. “Hey, “I call, “Isn’t it a little bit uncomfortable up there, what with the coconuts and the tripod and all?” “Yeah,” he remarks, “but you won’t believe the view.” I smile, and make my way back toward Atlantic Boulevard, knowing that the Chamber of Commerce has won once again.


Blogger Memphis Word Nerd said...

I love this! You cracked me up. I've read it twice now.

Are you originally from Memphis or are you just being funny?

8:17 PM  
Blogger Sister Sunshine said...

Great writing. And from the future, at that!
; )

9:26 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home