in Food and Drink

Christmas With The Natives

a $35 butterball is like a benz to the average campesino. at least, none of the invaders to my home claim to have seen a turkey this big. they eye it respectfully, but the job of cooking it falls on me.

dinner’s at midnight, Christmas eve. so at 7pm, i fire up the oven and throw the bird in doggy-style. i like to cook turkey upside down to keep the breast meat moist. lord knows, i don’t want to spend another Christmas choking down dry flesh. hell, thats why i stopped dating my grandmother.

after a couple of hours the kitchen fills with smoke. the pan’s leaking grease; it pools on the bottom of the oven, and burns. no one seems to care. the crowd’s loud, the speaker’s are bumping, the beer filled cooler is almost empty.

outside panama city’s quiet. you can amost hear the Christmas lights twinkle in the darkness. at midnight we gather ’round the table to eat, and give thanks. i suggest a toast to chef Cojito for cooking the fattest bird ever; they come back with, “feliz navidad.”

philistines; as if the birth of baby jesus could rival a juicy butterball.

the city comes alive with fireworks. we all move to the balcony to watch. i make the usual smashed conversation from the rail. one of the natives asks to change the music. he proudly flashes a worn journey cd. “ahh, me gusta,” i say, while looking for a way out. he kindly offers to let me copy it as a gift. lesson learned; i should never lie.

9 am Christmas morning; fuck, my head hurts. a lone bird heckles me from the tree outside my window. it’s as if he’s the turkey of Christmas past. he appears green, so i might still be drunk. i want to throtte its neck.

someone puts “los plumas negras” on the cd player, and im wondering why the natives didn’t offer to let me copy this last night. in the background, they gear up for the day. i imagine them in the sala, downing shots of guaro, and sharpening their machetes. today we ride a lame burro to colon for the crocodile hunt. it’s a family tradition.

before i figure out if i’m really alive, un mocoso enters my bedroom. he’s brandishing a small plastic knife like the worst kind of Colombian. dear god, they start young down here. i tell him to kill the parrot next door. he laughs.

we’re buds. last night, we bonded, after discovering no one in the room could understand our drooling spanish. towards evening’s end, both of us were gibbering, and tottering around like silly twits. what do you expect from a 2 year old; they just can’t hold their liquor.

“m-oto. m-oto.” he mumbles.

he means, mas photo. i took a few shots with the digital last night. and now, like so many models, he’s giving me the diva treatment. my girlfriend comes in to shoo him out, then she hits me up for cash to buy something yellow.

Panamanians are a superstitious lot. and apparently, yellow’s the color of good luck in the new year. everyone down here knows, if you’re going to hit the lottery, you’re going to need to be wearing yellow. my girlfriend wants to hit the lottery.

as a rule, i’m not into magical talismans (unless you count my penis), but i’m still groggy from the hangover. i tell her to buy a yellow thong. i figure, if i make it back from the croc hunt alive, at least one of us has a shot at getting lucky.

-Cojito @ Panama After Dark.

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  1. "dinner’s at midnight, christmas eve. so at 7pm, i fire up the oven and throw the bird in doggy-style."

    I swear to god, I'm gonna get you to publish a book. When you're 'on,' … you're definitely 'on.' That line is classic!

    I'm going to tell you something, but I'm afraid it's going to make your head bigger than that turkey. Which might even be bigger than that damn kid's head in the photo: You're one of the best narrative writers, alive, in my opinion.

    Seriously. I'm not even much into fiction work. But you've got serious talent. Have you checked out lulu.com yet? There's still be the issue of promoting it, but I figure you can print up about 40 of them to send to agents, to get a real publishing deal. Then what? Who knows…

    But there's definitely talent in 'that there word processor of yours

    CRJ….

  2. Cojito, hombre. ¡Que una foto! Me gusta mucho esta entrega. Pero no mata los cocodrilos. Ellos reducen el numero de las turistas, si no la calidad.

  3. crj – fiction?! i'll have you know one of my duties today is to make a copy of "journey's greatest hits." ha, that real enough for ya?

    seriously, thanks for the praise; you're kind, and quite obviously drunk. i wrote it up x-mas morning, and i was laughing the whole time.

    i know lulu. but like all artistic types, i'm more into the writing, then the selling. maybe, after i get enough crap written, i should hire you as my agent. or maybe, down the road, this zine will generate enough traffic (and advertising revenue), to support my lascivious lifestyle.

    lakesdiver – gracias. no te preocupes por los cocodrillos. every year we have big ideas, then we get drunk on guaro, and pass out at river's edge. which, now that i think on it, is how we lost tio alberto en el ano pasado.

  4. eres lo9 peor ok besos bay feliz navidad joooooo jooooo joooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooojooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

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