An Early Christmas for the Washington Area Parrothead Club
Florida - December 1998

Click here to see the pictures!

By Ken Jenkins

If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me. That’s all I could think as I headed out the door on December 3rd. I was going to Florida, along with 6 other parrotheads (In what has turned out to be a legendary bad decision, Anne dropped out at the last minute), to see Jimmy for 4 shows and whatever other fun I could throw in along the way. I didn’t even want to think about home, work, DC, DC traffic, computers, the Internet, Monica Lewinsky, impeachment, Saddam Hussein, or anything else north of the 30th latitude. It worked.

I think Jimmy was thinking about us when he scheduled the shows in Florida: Dec 4th in West Palm Beach, Dec 6th in West Palm Beach, Dec 8th in Orlando, and Dec 10th in Tampa. There would be a day in between each show for recovery, recuperation, and other excursions. This would be Jimmy’s 2nd Florida tour that I had attended this year, but I wasn’t complaining.

And to really pile the icing on the cake, rumor was that Jimmy would be recording the Florida shows for a new live album, so expect the unexpected. We did and Jimmy delivered. He broke away from the cookie cutter Carnival Tour shows he has been doing and threw in some real gems. I can’t tell you how exciting it was to not know what song was coming up next. Jimmy also sang a new verse to Margaritaville. No one can seem to remember it, but it would lead one to believe it’s going to be on the live album. The only thing I can remember is he’s talking about "this lifelong siesta", which would appropriately describe Jimmy’s life. Each show Jimmy threw in several songs I had never heard in concert or not heard in quite some time. Songs like Tryin’ To Reason With Hurricane Season, Ragtop Day, Survive, 12 Volt Man, Love And Luck, Creola, Cuban Crime Of Passion, We Are The People Are Parents Warned Us About, Growing Older, But Not Up, Door Number Three, Distantly In Love, Pascagoula Run, Tin Cup Chalice, Frank And Lola, etc. were all nice surprises. Also, in Tampa, Jimmy donned a Santa hat and treated us to Ho Ho Ho, and a Bottle of Rhum.

Speaking of Santa hats, Craig’s (a.k.a. Alice) parrothead Santa hat turned out to be the star of the show. Nothing like a Santa hat with parrots, flamingos, junior mints, margarita glasses, etc. to get a little attention. From the teenyboppers in the parking lot to Parrotvision, we commanded a disproportionate amount of attention. In fact, we were prominently featured on the Parrotvision at all four Florida shows! We even had people pointing to us during the concert when we were on the parrotvision.

Needless to say the tailgating in West Palm Beach was awesome. Even the fire ants showed up in droves. Floridians don’t seem to get started too early, but there were enough of us out of town hardcores to get the action hoppin’ by about 2:00 both days at WPB. On Friday, we parked beside our friends from Jacksonville with the tiki hut who we had met earlier this summer at the Buffett show in Raleigh. We took over their kareoke machine early on. Good move. We made a star out of everyone who wandered by. The teenyboppers were plentiful. The upside down margaritas were tasty. The kareoke machine kept on going strong even after it wasn’t plugged in. We also met quite a few people from the DC area.

After a day off from Buffet shows, it was back to Coral Sky for the second WPB show. This time we had a bus thanks to the WPB Parrothead Club. It picked us up at the hotel and we were on our way. They didn’t give us the prime parking we had before, but it would not hold us back. We met more people we’d seen the day before. Andy bought a hat that set him loose. Craig & I almost got kicked out of our 5th row center seats by Jimmy’s own body guard for trying to help sneak in a young lady we’d met in the parking lot. All the empty seats in the 2nd and 4th row were a mystery to me. Delaney and her classmates were on stage with Jimmy. Not to be left out of the action, Cameron was on the side of the stage in a wagon, despite having broken his arm a few days before. Another the show it was back to the bus. Had to make a cell phone call to remind Anne that we were there and she wasn’t.

The Buffett concerts weren’t the only adventures in West Palm Beach. You know it’s going to be a good trip when you’ve only been in Florida a couple hours and you’re riding around in a limo drinking $150 bottles of Dom Perignon courtesy of some rich guy who’s also spending literally thousands of dollars making sure you’re surrounded by plenty of naked women at the local strip club. So the next time you’re in a hotel bar, be nice to the person next to you. It may just be some rich guy named Jerry that’s going to take you and the whole bar out for an evening on the town gratis.

Just when we think we can’t top the limo incident, on Saturday we decide to cruise the ritzy areas of Palm Beach so we could see exactly how hopeless it is that we’ll ever even be able to afford an outhouse in the area. Well whom should we run into, but Jimmy. As in Jimmy Buffett! He was with his son and a couple others. He happened to be walking on the street. We didn’t bug him. We just kept on our merry little way, went to the nearest clothing store and bought new underwear. We could only wonder what the next adventure would be.

It didn’t take long to answer that question. On Saturday evening we went to Clematis St, the party spot in downtown WPB. We figured hey, it’s Florida. T-shirts and shorts will do. Not. Don’t know where they hide during the day, but Clematis St at night is the home of the beautiful people. Lots of cleavage and short, tight black dresses. Can you say "Where did that poor white trash come from?" I don’t think we’ve ever had so much fun making fun of ourselves.

Well it was now Monday and it was time for Rock, Karen, Diane, and Andy to go home. But fear not. Dave, Craig and I still had two more shows to go to. It was on to Orlando. Orlando was my 43rd Buffett show, but the first indoor show. I didn’t have high expectations for a downtown arena, but those expectations were shattered. The tailgating proved awesome. Wally (the T-shirt slingshot guy) showed up in the lot right away. Our tiki hut friends from WPB were back! The local eyewitness news had us on live TV all night, both before and after the concert. Club Trini played their pre-concert show right beside where we parked! We were in a big conga line with Tina and Heather and many other parrotheads. Craig actually got to sing a line to a Club Trini song that Nadira was singing. Dave was video cameraman for the tiki hut people. We got to take pictures with Tina, Heather, Utley, Robert G, and Nadira. Our seats were good and the show was awesome. Had we died and gone to heaven? No, we had just been briefly transformed to Margaritaville for a few days.

The next day we dropped Dave off at the airport and headed to Tampa. Our 7 person Buffett entourage had dwindled to 2. We were headed for the final show. We got a lengthy tour of Tampa in search of our hotel. Our attempt at getting good seats for the Tampa show degraded to nothing but $60 worth of overpriced hotel room calls. We were disappointed, but never gave up. We never really found our actual seats, we just wandered from seat to seat in the worst of the worst sections. At one point, I felt like I was standing on the ledge of a 10-story building trying to watch the concert. The tailgating in Tampa was nonexistent. Only two small VIP lots. We did get a prime spot in the parking garage overlooking the arena. There was some activity up there. There were also two large bars full of parrotheads adjacent to the arena. We alternated between the bars and the garage. It was not near the caliber or degree of a pre-concert party as WPB or Orlando, but was nonetheless quite fun. A post-concert stop by the Hyatt Regency to see if Jimmy might show up (I’ve seen him there before) proved fruitless.

There was a nice surprise at Newk’s, one of the bars beside the Tampa Ice Palace. Captain Tony was there. I don’t know if you’ve seen Captain Tony, but he’s old. Real old. Nevertheless, he was drinking a brew, smoking a cigarette, and taking pictures, signing his poster, hitting on the girls, etc. We got a picture with him. As we were taking the picture, he was quick to point out the attractive young lady in front of us, commenting that he "was just trying to educate the youngsters".

"All you need in this life is a tremendous sex drive and a great ego. Brains don’t mean a shit." Captain Tony, from his poster that he autographed for us.

Well Tampa was over. Friday was here and reality was beginning to set in. Tomorrow would be another Saturday night and I’d be on a plane alone. We came and we conquered, but it was time to go home. Hopefully next year we can bring back the magic.