Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Boy Outta Da 'Hood
Miami Beach is an adolescent zoo. It is Id Unleashed. It is a place where you can walk your 400 pound hog with six inch legs, squealing complaints at every step (why walk a pig?), for ten full minutes across an uber-busy A1A--to a cheering crowd! Unbelievably beautiful beaches and the worst food and drink you will find for miles (but that is catering to the adolescent tastebuds, isn't it?). Steroid boys and girls with incredible butt implants. You will see things that, as the kids say, you can never un-see. You'll want to see it. . . but only once. It is a place that allows you to watch the hideous carnival while making you happy that you have "grown up." You begin to realize how many never do.
There is no subtlety in Miami Beach. It is America the Worst. You'll be glad to note, however, that it is very international.
We had our first drink there putting the screeching brakes on a No Drink January. This was not a place to be an ideologue. But after three weeks of abstinence, the first drink went right to my head.
"So this is what liquor is supposed to do?" I thought. "Hmm."
The drink made us hungry and so we ordered mussels. We sat on the sidewalk on the far end of the strip as the sun fell low and the electric lights began to twinkle. We waited in Wonderland.
The arrival of the mussels, however, was a very different thing. They smelled like horse shit. That should have been enough, but the waitress, a charming girl from southern Italy who spoke very poor English with a heavy accent said, "These mussels are different. They have a strong smell. Some people like them very much."
I believed her probably because she was cute, so I tried one. It tasted just like it smelled. I told Ili as much and encouraged her to try one. She, of course, bright girl that she is, looked at me like I had special needs.
When the waitress came back, I told her to take the mussels away.
"They taste like. . like The Rodeo," I said. This broke Ili up. "Jesus, I hope I don't get sick. That was awful. Why didn't you try one?"
I was worried the rest of the night, constantly checking in with my gut to see how it was doing. I left the restaurant with giant mojito legs and a suspicious belly.
"You'll be glad I didn't try one," Ili said. "You'll need someone to take care of you when you're puking."
We left the beach to stroll down Collins Avenue for a bit, looking at the sights, but we had been out for hours and my right Achilles tendon had torn a little more from the many hours of walking. I was walking slowly and limping badly, so Ili called an Uber to take us back home.
Omar picked us up. He had worked for United Emirates Airlines, he said. He had lived in Dubais for years.
"But no matter what," he said, "you always come back to Miami."
He told us a lot of tales of flying around the Middle East, of the money and the Islamic state, of trying to get a drink, of the troubles and dangers there. We passed a big building with glass windows, a display room for every expensive car made.
"How much money do you think that represents?" he asked.
I'm such a redneck, I underestimated by about a billion dollars. I know nothing about cars. Ili, however, spoke in some strange language with him about Ferraris and Lambos, cars selling for $250,000 and up. So they said.
"What do I know?" I offered. "I can't save enough money to get a newer Xterra."
Jesus, there is a unimaginable money in Miami. It is--without exaggeration--scary.
Back "home," I began to worry about my stomach again. I was making myself burp, I think, and all I wanted was something to kill the bacteria that were surely taking over my gut. Whiskey! Fortunately there was a liquor store just across the street from the Target where we were about to do some grocery shopping. And that's how our first day in Miami ended--a liquor store and Target.
Well. . . you can take the boy out of the 'hood, etc.