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.