October 2-3, 2009
El Nino, Moonshine and the Masked Monkey Man
By Susie (Hazelton) Kitchen
After the annual Bigfoot Campfire Storytelling Event, We found a dive bar 3 miles into the deep, dark woods on Friday night. It was soooo scary. It was surreal, twilight zonish and something I will never forget. We were driving down the two lane highway when we saw a sign that says "BAR - 3 miles." with an arrow. We almost drove past the "El Nino Supper Club", but my sharp eyes caught the neon Budweiser sign gleaming through the thick cedar trees. An old trailer from the 60's sat surrounded by an aging white picket fence with weeds and a rickety wood walkway leading to an old, bent up screen door. It came complete with the town drunk, Leo. We started to get back in the car when Leo encountered us and bade us to enter. I believe his exact words were, "Get on in there. She might be asleep, but we're open."
Anita, who reminded us of Eileen Brennan in Private Benjamin, was indeed slightly dozing in her recliner when we crept in. Anita, with her red flaming hair and slightly bent posture is at least 85. It was as if we had entered someone's private living room, only this one had a bar and a couple of tables. We chose to sit at the bar and ordered up some $3 margaritas- the "house specialty" according to a sign posted next to another sign, which advised us of the dress code requiring shoes and shirt but "bra and panties are optional."
Mimi asked to go to the restroom and was directed behind a curtained doorway which I later discovered also served as Anita's sleeping quarters. The gentlemen in our party were advised that their restroom was behind the trailer which was pretty much "anywhere you want to go" according to Anita. Mimi asked what there was to eat and Anita announced that the only thing she had left were brisket sandwiches. "We'll take 6," Mimi cheerfully announced as I gave her a look of sheer terror.
As we waited for "Red" to microwave our culinary waterloo, Leo served as a charming host, regaling me with tales of his recent romantic break up which involved his objection to his best girl's new colostomy bag. I learned everything I needed to know about Leo and then some. We also met Pepper the resident bar chihuahua.
The brisket came, and I am pretty sure I possibly ate human flesh for the first time in my life. (It does not taste just like chicken) I'm thinking that no El Nino Supper Club patrons ever actually make out alive, but since we were late to the party that Friday night, Leo and Anita were too tired to make the effort and decided to let us go. It was either that, or Greg offering to buy her a shot- which she quickly took him up on- whipping out a bottle of Peach Schnaaps and charging him $6 for the pleasure of watching her belt it down like a 21 year old frat boy in the Gaslamp on Friday night.
After Cannabalism Fest, Anita sang us some tunes on the guitar, but not before asking for requests. Chip was sad that she did not know the acoustic arrangement for any Rogers and Hammerstein, but we were charmed all the same by her efforts. We took our photos with Anita (El Nino Tradition is that you don't get out the door without a photo in the pink sombrero) and left into the cold, dark woods- none of us speaking for a few seconds as we drove away. "Was that real?" someone finally asked. We all laughed nervously and hysterically after that- all the way back to beautiful Peckerwood Knob Cabins.
Saturday was the 5k and the Bigfoot Festival and of course our annual turn about the fair as Bigfoot Royalty. Mimi is standing in line for corndogs, gets tapped on the shoulder and hears, "Hey, do you remember me?" She turns to find our sweet troubador from last year, Tommy Ladd. There were hugs all around and of course Tommy invited us again to Clancy's to jam. He has grown even more talented in the year since we heard him last.
As we stopped at the local market to pick up some grub on our way to Clancy's, we heard a shout out from a jeep just pulling away and discovered the County Commissioner from last year who taught us to play spoons. We ran and hugged him just like we've known him all our lives. Clancy's was great again this year. Tommy Ladd and Willy Steve played, County Commissioner played spoons and we were treated to a taste of moonshine from an old guy with a full white beard, missing teeth and overalls. He carried it around in a mason jar wrapped in a paper sack.
Sunday morning ,while it was still pitch black outside, Mimi opened her shutter windows up in the loft overlooking the other cabin in which Greg and Darren were staying and screamed like a little girl. "Something's in that tree." I was right behind her and screamed also, mostly due to her reaction. As we were running, I say, "Was it a raccoon, a bobcat, a possum?" She hysterically cries, "No, it was a man in a monkey suit."
"A man in a monkey suit?" I screamed even louder. Chip and Dottie, having been rudely awakened by hysterical screaming on a peaceful Peckerwood Knob Sunday morning, come bounding up the stairs. They bravely look into the dark, swaying tree as they try to calm us down. "It's just the wind" "You were seeing shadows." No amount of convincing could disuade Mimi from her vision of our hirsute visitor in the tree.
We had certain suspicions, which we carefully pondered for a few hours over coffee and which later resulted in a hilarious, seemingly random discussion with Greg to see if he would fess up after we referenced certain things. We queried him about his access to costumes at Warner Brothers, quoting that one of our favorite movies was "Planet of the Apes, and discussed the old tv series "Bewitched" and how one of our favorite episodes was the one where Dr Bombay turns Tabitha into a monkey. Each reference was met with a confused look from Greg and hysterical laughter from the rest of us.
We finally told Greg the goal of our rather strange conversation with him and what had occurred the night before. He SWEARS it was not him and I believe him. Still, I know Mimi. She is one of the most logical, straighforward people I know. I do not know who was trying to scare us, but they certainly did. We think it may have been Mr Green, who wants to scare away tourists from Peckerwood Knob- due to an abandoned gold mine upon which it sits. We called the gang from Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine is rolling towards Honobia even as we speak. They'll have it solved in half an hour in plenty of time for all of us to get back for some Scooby Snacks. Of course Shaggy and Scoob will spend that half hour mucking things up in misadventure, while Alan and Daphne disappear to God knows where. (Can you say "Hook up while everyone else is concentrating on a mystery?") My money will always be on Velma, the girl with the sensible shoes.
Just as Jim Smith, the photographer at Lightsmith Photography blogged, I will go ANYWHERE and do ANYTHING with the wonderful friends I have from so many years ago.. It is really not about the destination- it's about the company you keep.