|Searching for Jimmy Buffett
Tropical Trade Winds Vigil
Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi was an idiot. And she was damn good at it too.
Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi started out as a middle class baby-boomer born in the late forties who in spite of the distractions of the prosperous cultural evolution of the fifties and the drastic counter culture social revolution of the sixties, and in spite of being naturally beautiful and appealing, she had always managed to keep her feet planted firmly and responsibly on the ground. In doing so she held exceptional promise as a truly amazing academic achiever, a shining beacon and example of the great American dream. All things considered you would have thought Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi was bound for success and definitely on the fast track to, well... who the hell knows where? But instead, Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi was an idiot. In fact, she had long ago regressed far beyond the stage of idiot to become, in a slow docile hazy kind of way, just plain stupid, an incredible accomplishment considering she was once thought to be near genius.
When in grade school she always sat dutifully in the front of the class, stayed fully focused, always followed directions and achieved straight A's on her report cards. When she was in high school she sat in the front of the class, stayed fully focused, always followed directions and achieved straight A's, graduating summa cum laude. Then again in college Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi sat in the front of the class, stayed fully focused, always followed directions, achieved straight A's and graduated egregia cum laude. In fact she would have graduated maxima cum laude but for the simple reason she refused to have sex with her Applied Logics professor during her freshman year, something she appearently didn't consider to be very logical. Unfortunately the man carried a grudge because as a coed predator he had never before failed to conquer his young prey. Still he gave her an A in the course of course; he had no choice because he could not ignore or deny her achievements, but it was an A with an asterisk. This resulted in Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi graduating a single asterisk short of maxima cum laude with only a respectable egregia cum laude, a feat accomplished by very, very few students anywhere. Most surprisingly however, her entire life of study, including and especially the essence of the course in logic, mustn't have left much of an impression on her because in spite of all her efforts and achievements... Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi became an idiot.
Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi's real name was Frances Camilla Freewater, or at least that was her name until 1969 when she sailed off to Ghana in West Africa to work on her Masters thesis. The scholarly work was to be a complete analytical evaluation of the evolution of Ghana from a fragmented slave-trading territory to a consolidated unstable occasional half-ass republic, and how it affected the indigenous population morally, socially, and religously; an ambitious and impressive undertaking to say the least. In truth, however, she wasn't quite sure why she chose that particular course of study or why she chose that particular part of the world to pursue that particular course of study other than the fact she had a schoolgirl crush on Sidney Poitier at the time and somehow managed to connect the two. As formerly implied, logic often escaped her. On the other hand Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi's decisions were understandable. Her dutiful attention to detail and all those high marks and academic achievements were all perfectly understandable with the realization that Frances Camilla Freewater was a total recal who could read, remember, and regurgitate just about everything; an enviable talent indeed. Her problem, however, was that she was not only a total recall but also a total ditz with all the deductive powers of a plastic flamingo. If she did actually possess any form of original thought or so much as an ounce of common sense it was most likely used up each morning when she managed to tie her shoes... when she wore shoes.
Frances came to change her name two months after her arrival in Ghana while she was researching how she was going to approach the research necessary to achieve her ultimate research. Without guidance she had a way of complicating such things and having absolutely no ability to conjure up the necessary original thought required for such an endeavor, or how to construct her thesis of which she knew nothing, she found herself at a total loss and academic quandary in which she reached an intellectual impasse, or to put it bluntly, a deductive coma. In the field as it were, there were no instruction manuals or written study guides to give her direction. There was no material to memorize, no fellow students to answer occasional questions, and no librarians to provide assistance and guidance or to service her inquires. There was simply no one anywhere to give her any help or advice at all, not even any sex crazed pseudo intellectual statutory rapist applied logic professors. No one that is, except Lord Reginald Baxter Framingham III whom it seems was always full of demonstrative counsel.
Lord Framingham was a young Englishman who went by the informal name of Skeeter, or most often Lord Skeeter. But in truth he was not an English Lord at all. In fact he wasn't even British, though everyone assumed he was because of an alluring British accent he had perfected while attending school as a theater major at the University of California in Berkeley. He chose to be a theater major because he thought he was as talented as Gregory Peck, as handsome and dynamic as Errol Flynn, and though he was only five-foot-four and three-quarters inches short, thought he was just as manly as the six foot four action hero John Wayne. Lord Skeeter was actually from Cranberry, Pennsylvania, the son of a fairly successful immigrant Jewish Croatian butcher who claimed to be a non-kosher Polish owner of his very own meat and deli shop. Claiming to be Polish made for an impressive uptick in business since they lived in a predominantly Polish neighborhood. Lord Skeeter's real name was Georgie Souseburger. Georgie Souseburger, in addition to being the beneficiary and heir to the Souseburger Meat & Cheese Emporium, was simply a Jewish pretend Polish Croatian pretending to be British.
Sent to college to gain a little knowledge, it seems all Georgie, or Lord Skeeter, wanted to do was learn how to score. Capitalizing on his acting talent and the popular British music invasion of the sixties, Georgie's near perfect counterfeit British accent paid off handsomely and got him invited to all the best and coolest parties on and around campus where he could do exactly that, learn how to score... repeatedly. Also his being in such demand saved him tons of money because as the always popular trophy party guest and companion he rarely if ever had to pay for anything. Certanly an appealing state of affairs for a young non-kosher Jewish pretend Polish Croatian British young man on a college budget. The creative fraudulent handle of Lord Framingham also made him a popular fixture at many prestigious social events around town where he often mixed with the rich and famous, again never failing to get him laid, especially when he claimed to be a personal friend of Paul McCartney, one of the world famous Beatles. Georgie Souseburger, alias Lord Skeeter, falsely and happily existed in his idea of heaven on earth, which was far and wide removed from the prospect of packing unkosher pork sausage in Cranberry, Pennsylvania.
It was following one of those extended socialy prestigious psychedelic sixties parties that eventually migrated aboard a private jet, and while Lord Skeeter was getting laid on that same private jet by the prominent well known pineapple heiress who owned it, and because during the exhilaration of sex with the pineapple princess when he let his accent slip back to that of a Cranberry, Pennsylvania, local yokel, that he suddenly found himself a phony Englishman in Ghana where he had been uncerimoniously bounced off the aircraft during a refueling stop. It was there he eventually met and came to mooch off the kindness of the beautiful but naive and gullible Frances Camilla Freewater. Gullible enough it seems to believe just about everything Lord Skeeter had to say.
"What you need are changes," he told the credulous and confused Frances. "A change of character to loosen the intellectual reins, a change of soul to free up your inhibitions, a change of name to divorce yourself from the bonds and demons of society. Changes," he said. "Changes in latitude and changes in attitude. Oh, and by the by, did I mention that I know Paul McCartney?"
Of course Frances had no damn idea what the hell he was talking about, but, she concluded, he was an English Lord and with his sophisticated attitude and accent anything he said simply had to be true. She knew this because she had watched recycled BBC programming on PBS for many years on TV and as a result believed, as do most Englishmen, that all things British are proper, correct, and far more superior to most all things American, or all things in the world in general. And so the susceptible young Miss Freewater surrendered both her money and her virginity, never once questioning Lord Skeeter's second-hand drug inspired Timothy Leary bullshit sixties wisdom. Nor did she question the consequences of the funny little pills he gave her with the promise they would expand her mind, and in that Lord Skeeter certainly was correct. For Frances Camilla Freewater's mind expanded so much that she literally forgot who the hell she was for nearly a month, and in fact began forgetting almost everything most all the time. Then, not knowing who she was but liking who she was becoming, she expanded her mind even further until she decided to be one with the universe and a born again flower child known as Sister Moonbeam. She would later add the African Buli language name of Goom-jigi, which translated means peace.
The name Goom-jigi came to her while she and Lord Skeeter were on a footbound safari in search of exotic mushrooms. While squatting and taking a shit inside a very large hollow tree near Ghana's Daka River she had a spiritual experience.
"Peace. Peace. Goom-jigi," she heard a strange voice echo magically all around her inside the cavernous hollow tree.
"Yes. Who's there?" she asked.
"Goom-jigi," came the mysterious voice again.
"I'm here. I hear you," answered Sister Moonbeam. "I'm here. Tell me what you want. I'm listening."
"GOOM-JIGI DAMNIT! GOOM-JIGI!"
When Sister Moonbeam emerged from inside the tree full of inspiration and excited about the spiritual experience that took place during her number two, she discovered her number one companion, Lord Skeeter, was nowhere to be found. Little did she know he had been captured by tribal warriors, hacked up with machetes and his various parts distributed among the tribal chiefs of Ghana. The violent act was an effort on the part of angry tribesmen to demonstrate British vulnerability and mortality so as to bring the rest of the tribes together to rise up against the government and fight the foreign oil men who had come to steal their land. Lord Skeeter's death was a dreadful incident to be sure but then he had brought about his own demise through his own ignorance of the region's current affairs and his often-practiced counterfeit British demeanor.
"Good day chaps,' he had said with his best British flair when he bumped into the small band of native gorilla fighters who had come along while Sister Moonbeam was still occupied inside the hollow tree. "Out for a walk in the bush are we? Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lord Reginald Baxter Framingham the Third, current of the great Royal British Empire Oil Conglomerate. God bless the Queen."
Lord Skeeter heard a British oil company was poking around the neighborhood and thought he'd take advantage. He lied of course as he always did when trying to impress anyone and everyone he met. This time however, the English accent and the mention of oil was just enough to raise the gorilla fighters' ire. As a result they quickly encircled him with threatening glares of bad intent and gleaming machetes, leading Lord Skeeter to realize he had pretty much screwed the pooch by offering up the wrong lie at the wrong time and in the wrong place, for it was in fact that very same British company that was attempting to steal their land and drill for oil and as such certainly not the time to pretend to be a tight-ass Brit.
"Gentlemen please. Can't you see I'm a man of peace? I come to pump black gold from the earth and bring you great fortune. I come to deliver a whole new world of opportunity and riches with um... good stuff like, uh... hermetically sealed foods, indoor plumbing, mopeds, Bazooka bubble gum, and Jack Purcell sneakers."
The warrior tribesmen were not impressed, not to mention the fact they hardly understood a damn word he was saying. All they knew was Lord Skeeter's enunciation and demeanor seemed British and that was all they needed to know - plus he said something about oil.
"Peace. Peace." said Lord Skeeter as they backed him against the backside of the large hollow tree in which Sister Moonbeam squatted to relieve herself.
"Goom-jigi," he said, drawing from his very limited knowledge of African languages that he had picked up while attending an African/American Cultural Awareness seminar at Berkley that was sponsored jointly by the Berkley Society for Social Enlightenment and the Black Panthers. "Goom-jigi. Goom-jigi," he nervously continued as the tribal fighters moved in slowly, threatening, raising their machetes. "GOOM-JIGI," repeated Lord Skeeter, growing ever more concerned and desperate. "GOOM-JIGI DAMNIT! GOOM-JIGI!"
Like an FBI raid on a shack full of Disney ticket counterfeiters, it was all over in a matter of seconds as Lord Reginald Baxter Framingham III, alias Skeeter, alias Lord Skeeter, alias Georgie Souseburger of Cranberry, PA, was lopped, chopped, diced, sliced, bagged, and in the mail, leaving little Sister Moonbeam alone to her inspirational poo poo inside her organically grown port-o-let, and also leaving her to somehow believe Lord Skeeter's last words that had echoed through the hollow tree were some sort of soulful epiphany or spiritual revelation. It was her own incredible burning bush Moses moment in which she had eagerly absorbed every single pulsating echoring syllable. She had eagerly done this because Sister Moonbeam, with the aid of Lord Skeeter's majic little pills, had become an idot.
Following the loss of Lord Skeeter, Sister Moonbeam, now the divinely self-christened Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi, wandered the Ghana countryside like a retard in a house of mirrors, harvesting and partaking of strange mushrooms that grew in elephant shit, talking to trees, bees, birds, and animals, and surviving off the kindness of local natives who thought it would be bad mojo to do otherwise simply because they all thought she wasn't all there in the head, which of course she wasn't.
Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi did eventually make her way home to the U.S.A. however, thanks to the kindly good graces of an old French priest and three Portuguese nuns who eagerly shipped her off on the very first available boat that happened to be bound for Philidelphia. They did so gladly and not caring where the boat was bound because they quickly discovered Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi was a total flake, a stoner, and a hopeless idiot, and decided her presence was agonizingly unbearable if not somehow sacrilegious. Also because Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi had taken to dancing around boob-free native naked, wearing only a few flowers in her hair and an artistically woven grass g-string trimmed with a few periwinkle shells and a lion's tooth and this was beginning to adversely affect the old French priest who was beginning to look ravenously upon the middle-aged Portuguese nuns.
As she departed the magic of Africa on that slow boat to America, Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi reflected on her Dark Continent experience, often thinking of and dearly missing Lord Skeeter who had taught her so much about life and universal bullshit, most of which she had forgotten because she had overly expanded her mind. And sometimes she even missed the three hundred thirty-seven pound Ashanti Chieftain named Floyd who forced her to marry him against her will and was so pleased with her sexual performance the night of the wedding that he rewarded her with a sack of sacred stones. It was a night of magic that was for the most part imagined or fantasized by Chief Floyd just before he had passed out. He had passed out because Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi had persuaded him to try some of her funny looking smelly little elephant shit mushrooms. Then, fortunately for Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi, Chief Floyd was killed the very next day while participating in a coup to overthrow the government, a coup inspired by the death of a British oil man called Lord Framingham, which is when she had been rescued by the Portuguese Nuns and French priest.
Years later, Frances Camilla Freewater, alias Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi, having evolved into a total airhead with the wherewithal of a hubcap, sat in the Tropical Trade Winds Lounge in the old city of St. Augustine, Florida, sipping on a tall glass of Boones Farm apple wine - with a twist. A misguided creature of the sixties who somehow survived and managed to slide into the seventies, and who favored the natural high of natural herbs, had an insatiable appetite for banana pancakes and Spam, possessed an expanded but fried mind full of useless and irretrievable egregia cum laude knowledge, but still somehow possessed the idiosyncratic ability to identify nearly every kind of sea shell found on nearly every beach on the coast. She was an eccentric yet uncomplicated child of nature who required little, desired little, possessed even less, and quite often willingly rolled over and gave her all to any man who would make her laugh. She had it all, she would often say; "...a small cottage on the beach, the sun in the morning and the moon at night, everything any child of the universe could possible want and everything in the world anyone could possibly need." Not to mention a 1955 Nash Metropolitan convertible. Oh yeah, and a sack of sacred stones courtesy of the late large Ashanti Chief Floyd, although she never could seem to remember where she put them. However none of that was important now because after all her magnificent academic achievements and all of her forgotten exotic travels and adventures, Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi had finally found... love.
His name was Jimmy Buffett, a relatively unknown musician who sang and played the guitar at the Tropical Trade Winds Lounge years before. Each night when he played she would sit there at her usual little table near the small stage and watch and listen. She listened first to the entertaining monologue and folksy music of that great troubadour Gamble Rogers, and then would laugh at the antics of the object of her affection Jimmy Buffett as the two men joined together in musical harmony and story telling humor. But she was most drawn to and would listen most intently when her Jimmy performed alone. It was during those special moments that the chattering patrons, the aroma of stale beer, and the lingering smoky environment of the small dark lounge surrounding her would somehow simply dissipate, leaving only herself and her Jimmy floating through her fluffy cloudy mushroom or hashish or cannabis influenced fuzzy universe. She sat wrapped in the magic of his talented fingers drawing across the strings of his instrument, his voice causing each fiber of her soul and loins to tingle with emotion. She would close her eyes and fix his winning smile, long fair hair and exaggerated mustache in her mind. She would mentally embrace him as he became her Romeo, her Heathcliff, her Lancelot... her Elvis. It was a love like none before and none that would ever be again. And it was all in her damn imagination.
It began one night while Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi was wandering along the waterfront, admiring and tripping on the soothing movement of the reflections on the water's surface from the lights of old St. Augustine's landmark Euro style Bridge of Lions. She heard distant sounds of music and laughter and it drew her to the nearby Tropical Trade Winds Lounge where she first discovered and was captured by the man of her dreams. Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi was looking especially radiant that evening after having spent the day at the beach skipping through the surf, singing with the shore birds, and feasting on a bowl of fresh strawberries and Spam cubes. Her radiant appeal didn't go unnoticed and he came to her during the break, sat at her table and struck up a conversation. The moment he joined her and smiled she just knew they were soul mates and she would never love another man. "I could feel the magic right away," she would often say as she recalled the occasion, which was impressive and fairly remarkable because having long since expanded her mind she now remembered very little for very long. But she did recall that he asked her name and a few other questions and she thinks she answered. She remembered he made a few polite jokes and she thinks she laughed. And she remembered as he rose to leave her table and return to the stage that he touched her hand and when he did a slow arc of electricity flowed straight to her heart or some other organ. It was at that moment it all began for Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi...- and it was at that moment it all ended for Jimmy Buffett, for it wasn't difficult for him to realize that Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi was a crazy-ass name, even for a near incoherent burned out nut case of a hippy flower child. And though he was a truly fun loving kind of guy he had no desire to enter into a relationship of any kind with a walking talking vegetable.
Each night she sat at the same table. Each night Jimmy laughed and sang and played his music, politely acknowledging her presence with a wink and a smile. Then one evening there was only Gamble Rogers. Again the next night there was only Gamble, and the next night... until she finally realized her Jimmy had departed.
"Where is my Jimmy?" she asked Joe the bartender.
"Moved on," said Joe. "Gone down to the Keys I think. Yeah, think he said something about heading south down to Key West. But I'm sure he'll be back," he said. "Don't you worry, Sister. He'll be back some day."
And so each night Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi continued to plop her ass in the same chair at the same table, drinking the same Boones Farm apple wine - with a twist. She sat alone, waiting for Jimmy Buffett to return. Waiting and waiting... and waiting...
More than three and a half decades later Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi continues to plop her now middle-aged-plus chunky ass in the same chair in the same dark corner, except now she's listening to a four-piece band made up of graying semi-bald sixty-something musicians playing sixty-something oldie goldie rock and roll.
The first to arrive and the last to leave, forlorned yet hopeful, she waits for her Jimmy. The first to arrive and the last to leave each night, all the while hoping and praying he will return. Three and a half decades later she sits and waits and sips her Boones Farm apple wine - with a twist.
And Sister Moonbeam-Goom-jigi is still an idiot.