Flamingo Skies

I don’t exactly understand why it is that I like waiting rooms. Maybe it’s because we’re not expected to do very much in waiting rooms. Or it might have something to do with a story I once heard; told me by a guy who did twenty years for killing his wife in a jealous rage. This same guy became a busker when he finally got out of jail, and when I was stumbling back from the bar one night, drunk on tequila, he waved me over and played me Cheeseburger In Paradise, by Jimmy Buffet. I’m not good with syllabic stress, so I’ve never been sure if Buffet is pronounced buhfey, as in the self-serve meal laid out on a table, or whether it’s pronounced buhf-it, as in to strike with the hand or fist. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

Did you know Jimmy Buffet(t) writes books? He’s written thirty odd books and they’re mostly about tall ships, high seas and pirates. I bet great flocks of flamingos turn the skies of his novels pink. Of course, I can’t say for sure if there are flamingo pink skies in his novels, because I haven’t read him. It just seems like something he might do. Now, this isn’t because flamingos are tropical clichés that symbolize Jimmy’s own clichédness. For the record, I don’t think he’s cliché at all. I mean, how many other rock stars have managed to pull off the regular guy thing? I bet he’s not even that regular of a guy. In fact, I think there’s something alien about him. I think at the end of every tour he peels off his regular guy skin and steps out fast and bulbous into the safety of his villa looking like Cthulhu with a margarita in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other. This, of course, would explain the flocks of flamingos in the skies of his novels. Such creepy birds. I wonder what planet they’re from. How they became tropical clichés, I’ll never know.

“Cheeseburger in paradise. Heaven on earth with an onion slice. Not too particular, not too precise. I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise,” sang the busker, before putting down his guitar and telling me the story about his friend who had died and found himself in a waiting room, sitting beside another guy. I guess the busker’s friend asked the other guy how long he had been waiting for, but he didn’t know. He only knew that the busker’s friend was not supposed to be waiting in that particular room at that particular time, so he said as much, at which point, the busker’s friend found himself back on the pavement, lying beside a crumpled car, looking up into the face of a paramedic.

That was the end of the story, and as I contemplated the busker’s hands, which were well-knuckled, he picked his guitar back up and started to play Margaritaville.


4 thoughts on “Flamingo Skies

  1. By a Tin Hats’ coincidence last night I was reading about Hemingway’s house and cats in the Keys. The guy used to live there and he starts recalling how Buffett played in some of the bars in Key West before he was famous. The really interesting thing, to me anyway, was Buffett was brought to Key West by Jerry Jeff Walker and through that connection Buffet began to play and write music in Key West. The rest is history. I wonder if Buffett’s bar survived this most recent hurricane? I heard the cats did fine. Nice story and a perfect contribution to Tin Hats. Wife killers, drunks, cliches that are not cliches, and people waiting for indeterminate periods of time for unknown reasons…sort of a Beckett kind of thing.

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  2. Jimmy Buffet(t) has always interested me because he’s greater than the sum of his parts, as it were. It’s the ‘third entity’ thing I suppose, that Springsteen talks about. Like I said to Jan, now I have to read one of his books.


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