Living life between the barrel staves in Bourbon Country

Apologies to Jim Morrison

Louie

I’ve been sitting here long enough to run the serious risk of merging permanently with my surroundings. I move seamlessly between flora and fauna. Time passes, but I do not feel the passage of time. Damn, it must be the Hurricanes again. After a morning spent crashing the waves with my son, I’m now occupying a more comfortable and less physically demanding position – reclining, on my rataan throne, at the Hurricane Bar. Through the leafy undergrowth of the trees surrounding the patio, a small green lizard is darting back and forth. He stops and stare at me for a moment. Too big to be food he thinks. Too immobile to be a threat he surmises. The lizard moves on doing whatever it is lizards do in the heat of the afternoon. I resign myself to the fact that I’m not even a danger to five inch long reptiles, and order another Hurricane from the bar.

Lunch has filled my belly to the point where I’m incapable of movement. The fried calamari had been served simply, no fancy dressing to drown it’s flavor – no overpowering spice rub. Just lightly battered and fried, served with a dipping sauce of crushed San Marzano tomatoes and garlic. Sometimes, less really is more. The seafood wrap of lobster, crab and shrimp was accompanied by sweet potato fries and blue cheese dressing. As I polish off lunch I realize that Louie the Lizard had returned and is perched on his hind legs glaring at me intently. I feel a vague urge to go and buy car insurance, so I decide to call over the waitress and get her opinion on the situation. While she’s here I think I’ll order another cocktail. She departs momentarily with my drink order looking vaguely annoyed and embarrassed. I’m not sure, but I might have asked her what she thought of my friend the lizard. I make a mental note that my question could be subject to interpretation, and to remember and add something to her tip for her troubles.

Time passes. Boats move in and out of the marina. Louie has taken up residence on top of my sandals. The breeze is blowing and there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky for days. Louie decides to explore further and climbs up my leg before stopping at my knee. On any other day having an amphibian crawling anywhere upon my person would have resulted in a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. But truth be known, the rum has started to kick in and I can’t feel anything below my waist. As Louie and I exchange perplexed looks, I realize that lunch has started to settle and hunger is gradually returning. He’s really kind of cute, I think, for a reptile. I wonder what fried lizard tastes like?

The happy hour crowd starts to arrive, signaling it’s time for me to return to home base – our condo – and meet up with the family for dinner. Luckily the bike ride is an easy one, rural and devoid of traffic or gator infested marsh (at least to the best of my knowledge). Louie is spared from finding out if he tastes better with marinara or remoulade. I pick him up gently and place him on the ground where he scurries away, undoubtedly to tell his lizard friends about his adventure in the land of the giants. I feel like I’ve stepped out of a page from Gulliver’s Travels where anything that is different or out of the ordinary is either feared or worshiped. Certainly Louie will have a tale to tell. The human wasn’t dangerous at all he’ll say. He just sits there and occasionally says to another human “I think I’ll have one more”. The other lizards will be incredulous of his story I’m sure. By the way, he’ll ask his amphibian friends, Does anyone know what remoulade is?

No doubt our afternoon of cross-species mind melding will provoke much debate among in lizard world. Like all encounters with new cultures, it’s the age old question of whether to be fear and reviled, or loved and worshiped. Personally, I hope Louie feels like it’s more of the later. Although if his friend Kermit ever comes around I have a sauté pan and some garlic butter with his name all over it. I wonder if they’ll build a statue of me in Lizard Land? Time to go, as dinner is waiting tonight somewhere else on the island. As I depart I can’t help but think, is it too much to believe that on this afternoon I managed to bridge a gap between worlds? And for a few hours at a patio bar in South Carolina, I was the Lizard King. I could do anything.

The author, settled into his perch at the Hurricane Bar.

The author, settled into his afternoon perch at the Hurricane Bar.

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