I bet you were thinking Tinseltown. Well, you don’t need to go to California to have a surreal night out. Or perhaps it’s just me. The surreal tends to attach itself to me like stepping in a piece of freshly chewed gum on the sidewalk. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get it off the sole of your shoe.
That’s what happened on a recent sweltering summer evening out in Hollywood (Florida, that is) with my noir author friend Vicki Hendricks and my famous sidekick bear Teddy Tedaloo. No, there wasn’t any chewing gum, but there was plenty of weirdness packed into a few hours.
It all began with the margaritas (yeah, blame the booze, right?). You see, Ted’s never tried them before, being a real ale bear and all. I must say he was definitely on his best behaviour, unlike some of his more infamous behaviour in certain British pubs (one of which involved a brawl with a monkey). Our trio sucked up those margaritas in a flash, feeling no pain. Summer in South Florida is excruciatingly hot – you gotta do something to ease the pain.
After chowing down on Mexican food (to help soak up the margaritas), we happened on this curious little place that offered “bubble tea” and an evening of open mic. As we deliberated over whether or not to go in, we sort of got railroaded by some old beat poet dude, who no doubt wanted to pack the audience with some friendly faces. I made the mistake of joking that maybe I should do a reading from my new book Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts and that was it: he insisted we come in. The place seemed to have lots of guys there, none of whom looked like the kind of guys who go to poetry nights in little clubs that serve bubble tea.
We sat on some high sofa thingie and perused the menu, trying to figure out which flavours of bubble tea we wanted. The poet was by this time in full swing, and we weren’t even able to catch our breath and flag down the tea guy before some comedian took over. I must confess that I’ve been away from America for many years now and his humour was pretty much lost on me. He did a lot of “short guy” humour, since he was short. Mind you, I was never one for American humour or comedians, save for The Marx Brothers and Jackie Mason. Therefore it was a relief to me when he finished.
We never did get our bubble tea. (I should add that we went to this place a year ago and never got our bubble tea then either.) Instead we discreetly sneaked out of the joint, deciding to head to this kava place near where we parked the car. We got waylaid along the way by a belly dancer, at which point Ted insisted on being photographed with her to make all his mates on Facebook jealous. The lass must have been quite taken with him, since I later found a slip of paper with a phone number on it in the pocket of his trousers.
Like the bubble tea place, we didn’t expect the kava joint to still be in business since the last time we’d popped in. But there they were, empty, but there, save for some guy playing chess with what appeared to be a woman in a burka or one of Papa Lazarou‘s gypsy wives – I couldn’t tell in the mood lighting. The kava bartender was smoking something that smelled mighty familiar, and when I made a comment about the smell, he said it was sage. Yeah, right, pull the other one, mate! When we inquired about the kava, he launched into a rapid-fire spiel about the merits of the stuff, but said we shouldn’t try it because we’d been drinking. I’d only had one margarita, but I’m telling you this: he sounded exactly like Dan Aykroyd in the film “Dragnet.” (Cue the virgin Connie Swail.)
With the kava now nipped in the bud by Mr. Aykroyd, we decided to take advantage of the chair massage on offer by the resident chair massage girl. The fact that it had started to piss down with rain didn’t make us too inclined to head back outside either. Ted, however, decided to decline the massage, as he didn’t want to get oil on his fur. He was having enough misery with the South Florida heat and humidity, as was I. Can’t say I blamed him for opting out. Frankly, I don’t know how any sane person (or bear) would voluntarily live in this climate.
As for our surreal night out in Hollywood, it came to a pleasant end, with both Vicki and myself feeling slightly more relaxed from the massage. Heck, we’ll probably do it all again next year – and hopefully remember not to drink so we can finally try that kava. Well, that’s if they’re still in business next year. You just never know these days.