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Tales of a Post-Grad Nothing

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dirty South

My father is a hard person to get to know. He's brave and rough and intimidating and totally absurd all at the same time. Hanging out with him is a test of one's ability to understand exactly how complex a single person can be. My father is from an entirely different culture than myself. Whereas my stories of growing up revolve around being awkward in the suburbs and having an unfortunate amount of dark body hair for a pre-teen girl (seriously, it was bad. I refer to middle school as The Tom Selleck Years*), my dad's coming of age stories involve sitting in pool halls all night long trying to hustle bare-chested men with names like Whitey and 3D out of grocery money. I can't relate and when I hang out with my dad as an adult, it's like stepping into a parallel universe where basic assumptions such as 'nobody would think that dumping raw human sewage into the everglades is a good idea' and 'not many people take body shots before 10AM' are challenged and in many cases completely crushed. That sentiment was reinforced 8 million times over during my time in Florida, but the real clincher was the day my father, his bride, and myself arose at 6:30 to drive four hours down to Key West for the day.

We arrived at 10:30 and immediately met up with my father's friend who introduced himself as Lying Larry. Lying Larry, not surprisingly, has extra long chest hair and a touchy uncle mustache. Lying Larry runs a parking lot. Like us, he's from Virginia, but he's not allowed to go back there on account of some unpaid tickets and an unfortunate incident involving a former girlfriend who stabbed him. Lying Larry, my father, my stepmother, and I went to a bar called Crabby Dicks where the slogan is "A crabby dick is better than no dick at all." I have issues with the validity of that claim. I have even more issues with hearing that argument before 11AM. At Crabby Dicks, we were served by a bartender who was massively high on coke. I know she was massively high on coke because more than one person told me "she's really fucked up on coke right now." We sipped mango daiquiris while Lying Larry told me about how I shouldn't go to Cuba because "a girl like you would get sold to the highest bidder." That line was followed up with "Don't you know that's a compliment girl?" I did not know that was a compliment. In fact, I had no idea.

By noon, I was in a total haze, partly from the daiquiris and partly from the fact that I've never heard so many stories about people getting stabbed before. Seriously, my father knows an uncomfortable number of people that have been stabbed and we discussed each of their stabbing stories in great depth. Up until now, I thought that stabbing, like scurvy, was a fairly easy thing to avoid but apparently it's not. In fact, my father seems to be one of the few people in his social circle that hasn't been stabbed (that I know of) although he has broken his nose 26 times for reasons ranging from bar brawls to drunken one-armed push-ups. After we had exhausted the topic of stabbing, conversation switched to the size of Lying Larry's new girlfriend's breasts which he described as "tits the size of fucking planets." At that point, I was semi-drunk and became very interested in a subtitled episode of Lizzie McGuire that was playing on a television behind the coked up barmaid.

After lunch (which was surprisingly good for an institution that makes allusions to STDs in its slogan), we walked back to Lying Larry's parking lot where we met another man with unfortunate barbed wire tattoos who repeatedly touched the small of my back and kept telling me that "it's a good god damn thing you don't look like your sonofabitch dad." I did know that this was a compliment. I should also mention that barbed wire dude has also given up all of his shoes except for his robust collection of Crocs which he swears are "god's gift to the feet."

For the rest of the day, we walked in and out of tiny art galleries, where my father pulled each gallery director aside and informed him or her that the merchandise was either "pretty nice shit" or "a god damn joke." We walked through the dandelion sunshine, past giant cruise ships and sapphire waters. When the sun was setting, we began to head back to Lying Larry's parking lot. Turning the final corner, a flock of chickens scattered in every direction, creating a giant cloud of feathers that we marched through against a pink and purple sky, our car and drunken lot attendant in the background. At that point, I just started laughing...real, genuine, completely non-cynical laughter at how perfectly fantastic and perfectly absurd the entire day had been. "It's just a different way of life down here," my father said pointing to scenic shores with one arm and pulling me in close with the other. I smiled and nodded in complete agreement.







* On an unrelated sidenote, I love that Tom Selleck is holding a phone that's clearly not cordless in that picture. Maybe he thinks that we'll be so mesmerized by the 'stash that we won't realize that there's no conceivable way he is actually taking a phone call.

2 Comments:

At 8:44 PM, Blogger panajane said...

Sounds awesome in a really surreal Charlie Kaufman movie sort of way.

 
At 10:43 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Hilarious.

Your Tom Selleck link is dead - but amazingly I found the same photo at http://genocidaltendencies.co.uk/tom_selleck_01.jpg

 

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