If you live long enough, you are bound to see everything. I’m struggling to get my itty-bitty mind wrapped around Christmas in South Florida. Yesterday, it was 95 degrees, and it’s threatening to be hotter on Christmas Day.
Yet somehow we are in the middle of a harsh Miami winter, or so I am told. The locals broke out their coats around the first of November and have been wearin' 'em ever since.
There are hundreds of trees here, and all of them are palm trees. So with a total lack of anything that remotely resembles a pine tree, the locals do what anyone would do in such a strange situation: they decorate the palms.
Everywhere you look there are palm trees dressed for the holidays. They stand tall and thin and are pretty enough, but something still ain’t right. They look like Christmas trees from a starving third world country. They look like anorexic Christmas trees with bad hair. Have you heard of the South Beach Diet? Yeah, it’s called paying rent in Miami. Here, you can rent or eat, but you cannot accomplish both, so cut the palm trees a little slack.
Christmas dinner will not be at my Aunt Cindy’s house this year. It will include turkey and don’t fool yourself the people of Miami can cook a mean turkey, but it will also include red beans and rice, black beans and rice and don’t forget Lima beans and rice. I expect dessert will be rice pudding. People here buy rice by the ton. You pull up in your pickup and have it dumped into the bed, like gravel, then go home and shovel it into a bin at home.
Included in the meal there will surely be potatoes; you need both of the main dishes in every meal, rice and potatoes. I am joking here, we had Thanksgiving dinner with some Peruvian friends and everything on the table melted in your mouth.
I have visited thirty-seven countries, and up until this point I thought I’d seen and tried everything a country boy from Georgia could imagine. I have eaten things, most dead, but some I fear were still alive. Some of the things I’ve eaten cannot be discussed in mixed company or at least I’d rather not discuss them in front of myself. I’ve spent most of my life trying to repress the memories of what a redneck boy might eat in Korea and what he drank in the first place, to make him eat those things. There are plenty of things one might do in America after catching a snoot full, but let me assure you the things one might do overseas are infinite.
The real truth of it, everything goes good with beer and the more beers there are the better unidentifiable things blend together. This is one of thse universal truths and one I hope most never understand. Sometimes I worry something is still down there swimming around in my stomach looking for the exit. Jonah and the whale in reverse.
Digression is a tool of the southern writer, sorry. I’ve seen cocks fightin', greased pig chasin' and cockroach racin'. I’ve seen talkin' dogs, dancin' hogs, and heaven help me, I’ve seen it rain bullfrogs. I’ve seen young boys who did a better impression of young girls than many of the young girls I’ve known.
My job requires me to travel down Ocean Drive in South Beach several times a day, and without the help of beer, I have seen things I’ll never forget and things I wish I could forget. This week I finally saw something that no human alive, with the possible exception of Mrs. Claus, that is, should ever see. Walking down the sidewalk in broad daylight was a 400-pound Santa. He was wearing his red fuzzy hat and about three ounces of red fuzzy G-string underwear and nothing else. Does the G stand for Oh My God? From the back, the G-string was invisible, disappearing into a place where the imagination of man will never go without a bunch of beer or moonshine to share the trip.
Simply by walking, his rear end was doing things that defy description. The front was dancing and giving the line, jiggled like a bowl full of jelly, a realism that need never have been imagined in the first place.
No, I never saw Momma kissin' Santa Claus, and I’m glad I didn’t; it might have scarred me for life. But I saw Santa in a G-string, and I fear I’ll never get over it. Afterward I drank my first beer in thirty years, in self-defense and then I sent Mrs. Claus my prescription for Prozac. She needs it more than I do.
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