Tonight my mind is a mess. On the one hand (and get ready for a Vishnu-type hand situation here), my facebook newsfeed is full of election-year nonsense posts by both liberals and conservatives, none of whom have figured out that the problem isn’t the other team, it’s the need for a winning team in the first place. The old America is dead, it’s everybody’s fault including yours and mine, because our minds are sick and most of us won’t deal with it, and our political system is a laughingstock. I hate to put too fine a point on it, but there it is. So I’m toying with the idea of unfriending the next round of people who use Jesus and his teachings to somehow support/denounce their political ideology (or make fun of The Other Person’s political ideology), who keep sharing hateful messages by justifying them as “truth,” and who keep insisting that there is actually a politician or political party who can single-handedly create a prosperous, just America for all. I’ll admit, I really got into the whole Bush-bashing bandwagon, but I needed to. I was sick as hell with alcoholism and I was behaving in such a manner that I needed someone to shit-talk who was more reprehensible that I was. The entire Bush Administration came in very handy at that time. One important lesson I learned during my participation in that lynch mob was that no matter what you believe, you can always find a lot of other people who will provide anecdotes and statistics to support your opinions, especially if you’re super-ecstatic about proving someone is a villain or a hero. From that lesson, I made a decision to conscientiously object to American politics. However, I didn’t anticipate contending with my increasingly asinine newsfeed, wherein these people who I mostly friended because I’m a people-pleaser are status-bombing dumb shit constantly about Obama and the Right Wing freakshow. I don’t care that you’ve found a quote from Thomas Jefferson that implicates corporate greed–why don’t you yourself just say what you have to say and then go make love to your wife and pay your bills?
As long as I’m bitching here, why don’t ALL you people who use quotes to say what you yourself are too scared or too lazy to say just status bomb me all in one day so I can unfriend the whole lot of you?
Now, on the other hand, I want to talk about the fact that there has been a giant, maybe 15 foot, CROCODILE spotted on US41 (the Tamiami Trail) between Corey Billie’s airboats and the Big Bend Boardwalk. I have not seen it with my own eyes, but Rick at the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters first informed me about it, and then, today, Corey Billie showed me a picture of it on his phone. I took one look at the picture and said the only natural thing that I could think of:
It’s massive. I mean a real ginormitron. I have a feeling that I will see it next time I take a tour out there, and if so, I will try to get a picture to share with you. Crocs generally don’t come up as far north as we are in the Everglades because it’s fresher water. So, this gargantua lounging around in our bracking/freshwater grasses is odd.
The alligators, too, have been getting more active. I saw two bellowing in the wild this week, which is pretty special. I’d deep-down wanted to see this behavior, and now that I have, I look forward to more. The bellow, or “growl,” sounds like a distant motorcycle motor, and it is hair-raising in a cool way, not hair-raising in a rattlesnake-rattle kind of way. Here’s an example:
So, it’s been exciting Out There. I got some new jokes to add to my tour, one concerning the Florida Panther, our critically endangered species:
Tourist: “So what does the Florida panther look like? What color is it?”
Me: “It’s not black, like the panthers in South America, but colored more like a cougar. [beat] You know, like [Name of Retired Woman in Van].”
And then I came up with a really funny joke today in the van, but now I can’t remember it. I think it had to do with Canadians. Alligators say they taste like bacon? No, I think it was funnier than that.
On another hand, tonight I’ve also wanted to say something nice and gratitudinous about the bevy of good ol’boys that came along with this job. I didn’t expect good ol’boys to be in the Glades, I don’t know why, but that’s what’s there. Larry, Rick, Dave and Jack Shealy, and, of course, all the airboat boys: Kempton, Robbie, Hayden, and, of course Corey Billie, although he doesn’t really count because he’s Seminole. And Kim. But she doesn’t fully count either because she’s a woman from New Jersey, but she’s getting there. Women from the south, good country women, are steel magnolias. But I can’t figure out how to tell Kim she has to be more steel magnolia and less steel girder.
I love good ol’boys. I was ruminating on this fact of my being today as I was sitting in the suicide seat next to Kempton, one of my favorites of the airboat captains, and he was running us through the trails in Collier-Seminole Sate Park, which is adjacent to Corey’s land. (Yes, Collier, as in Barron Gift Collier.) Kempton and the other guys out here are like many of the boys I grew up with, like the men in my extended families, men who joke all the time because they’re big kids at heart, who know how to hunt and fish and tell stories, men who love their families and having cash in their pockets. Men who are emotionally bottled up and therefore excel in the outdoors, especially with guns and traps and beer and boats.
Before in my life, I made fun of good ol’boys, of country people who wanted to be simple and have simple lives. I mocked them and their lifestyles, seeing all of it as ignorant and passive, quaint and parochial. I did that because I was so afraid I would be like them and miss something terribly important that a “fully lived life” is all about: accomplishments, acclaim, expertise, sparkles, intrigue, well-played deceits masquerading as relationships. I wanted a “big” life; I wanted to be “big,” and so I did. I was. And then I found out what I really wanted, really really wanted, was peace. The scale of my life was irrelevant–I suppose I could say that the life I’m living right now, in this town where I’m a nobody and my job, by it’s nature, makes me so very insignificant in the lives of others, is the largest I’ve ever felt. Just a little perception shift, courtesy of life, my epic journey.
Now I find I’ve come full circle, sitting in a suicide seat next to a good ol’boy from Florida who knows the Everglades like the lines in his hands and who is not afraid to stroke the face of a 10′ male gator from the side of an airboat full of Canadians and me. Right now, I love Kempton and Robbie and Hayden because they are country and comfortable, and I understand the rules of being with good ol’boys: joke and tell the truth and everything is always going to be good. It’s an easy relationship.
Did I mention Kempton touched the 10 foot alligator on the face? Like, rubbed it. I would even say he stroked the face. Another quick note about a real good ol’boy: he’s crazy. Not postal crazy, but wide-open crazy. I think that’s one of main reasons I just love ’em so much.
On the last hand, well, there is no last hand. That’s all. I’m tired and I had a lot to get out of my mind tonight because this week has been weird and my dreams are starting to get lurid and indecipherable. When this happens I know I am entering another personal shadow for reasons that will be revealed later. I haven’t told you because the thrill of my life here in Florida is so electrifying, but some of what I’m being asked to do now is showing me many less attractive elements in my personality that must be dealt with: judgmentalism, unhealthy attachments to time and sleep, pride. I’m being humbled on a regular basis in unfun ways (yes, you can be humbled in fun ways! Alligators bellowing…remember? Now that’s humbling.), but I won’t be ready to write about any of that part of this experience for a long time.
I have the day off tomorrow. I’m going kayaking. It’s been a long stretch of solid working days, and I am worn out but full of thoughts. Thanks for reading tonight; if you shared this experience with me you’ve probably figured out by now this time around it was more for me than you. Sometimes when I go awhile without writing I start to go mad–too much accumulating, as it were. I started to title this blog “dump,” which I think is a double entendre. Or triple entendre, for those of you who might find this entire writing a piece of shit.
nighty night beloveds.