I and a group of classmates from Lakeland High School – Suki Westra Janisch, Scott Schiltz, Shawn Eady Wilson, Nancy Calabro Stone, Tracy Snyder, and Greg Stevens recently attended the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. Our small group traveled from throughout the state to attend the half-day, outdoor concert that featured a lineup of bands culminating with The Doobie Brothers band as the headlining act. Afterwards, the majority of us ended up spending the night at Scott’s home in Clearwater, Fla.
I’ve known Scott since he transferred to Crystal Lake Junior High School from a school in Miami. He arrived on the scene with his Donny Osmond-like, day-glow white teeth, flashy clothes, and fun and outgoing personality. Scott and I quickly became friends that now treat each other like a brother and sister. We ended up going through high school together and both graduated from the University of Florida. He went on to become a successful attorney and currently owns a beautiful two-story home right on Tampa Bay.
To say, Scott’s abode is clean and nice is an understatement. He never has clutter anywhere when we visit and is always a gracious host serving guests the most delicious artisanal cheeses and gourmet meals that he cooks himself. Scott converted an entire room in his home into a bar he named “Cross-eyed Mary’s” where friends gather and much drinking and laughter takes place. His latest addition to the bar is a “Shotski” – an old wooden ski from Cypress Gardens that he skillfully converted into a vehicle that allows four people to drink a shot at the same time. He was excited to have us try it out and I, being a light drinker, even got in on the action taking shots from the Shotski with the others.
Having the bar in his home for many years, Scott has been gifted and purchased what seems like every brand and type of alcohol and all the bar accessories to go along with it. When you enter Cross-eyed Mary’s, it’s a step down from his living quarters and you get the impression you’re entering a bar in some small Mexican town. The bar’s décor is mainly Mexican themed with the walls painted yellow, red, and green and decorated with Mexican throws on chairs, a cactus plant, clusters of hanging dried peppers, shelves overflowing with bottles of hot sauce, a Mexican wrestling mask, and red chili pepper lights hanging over the bar.
But Cross-eyed Mary’s décor doesn’t stop there and also includes an eclectic assortment of objects you’d possibly find in a bar from Key West as well including a peeing cherub statue, a candelabra with years of melted wax built up on the bar underneath it, a bra for a three-boobed person, dollar bills stapled to the ceiling, a “dancing pole,” and a blow-up doll that gets a new outfit from time-to-time. There’s also a variety of hats, wigs, and masks that everyone dons to add to the spirit of the bar’s patrons and possibly to reflect how much they’ve had to drink. While the hats are too numerous to name they include everything from a Bobby hat, a leopard-print cowboy hat, and Mexican sombrero to a pirate hat, leather biker hat, and a beaded Pope’s hat that has seen better days. And seriously, you are invited to fill in the blanks between those extremes with every type of hat imaginable. The wigs also vary from a sexy blonde bob and a selection of mullets to gold- and pink-tinsel wigs. It’s always fun to hang out in the bar, drink, and catch up with friends and to get silly as everyone tries on the hats, masks, and wigs and takes fun photos. The nights spent in Cross-eyed Mary’s bar always run very late, get quite crazy, and are often the highlight competing with the main event and reason we gathered in Clearwater in the first place. This particular night was no exception.
On this visit, Nancy was the first to awake and head downstairs and onto the porch to enjoy the view of Tampa Bay, smoke her cigarettes, and spend some quiet time reading a book. When I arrived downstairs she came in from the porch and casually said, “I just had something really weird happen to me.
“I was putting on my shoes and I heard this noise and looked down and there was this tooth lying on the floor.” She admitted in her slightly hungover state that she had actually run her tongue around her mouth to see if she had lost any teeth.
Nancy then inquired if I had lost a tooth and, of course, thank God, I had not as it’s a strange fear of mine. But being blessed to have a dentist – Andreina Alarcon, DDS – as my goddaughter, I knew I didn’t have that worry. But still, there’s that split second when you, too, run your tongue around in your mouth to take inventory of your teeth. Shawn, who was still dozing on a couch, heard our discussion and joined in the laughter and I am thinking that she too, instinctively, might have also run her tongue around her teeth to check for any gaping hole where a tooth might have fallen out.
Nancy had placed the back molar upon the counter and it actually had signs of a small, unfilled cavity on its side. We three proceeded to laugh about it and to wonder who had a crazy enough night in Cross Eyed Mary’s to have lost a tooth. The tooth was left on the counter as we all departed to the porch. Nancy continued the discussion wondering if perhaps it had become lodged in the grooves in the bottom of her shoe the night before. I seriously questioned that idea as I am convinced that with a tooth of that size and with its overall hardness that she surely would have felt it when she was walking along.
Next to rise and come down the circular staircase were Tracy and Greg. And Nancy again questioned if either of them were missing a tooth, relayed the story of its discovery, and everyone laughed at the absurdity of it all once again. Tracy is the quintessential mom to everyone. She is always cleaning and straightening up behind us all and she instinctively wiped down the already cleaned counter when she came downstairs. She confessed that she thought the tooth was a piece of old popcorn and had thrown it into the trash.
By the time the news of the found tooth had spread amongst the early risers, our host Scott, typically and always the last to awake (even sometimes after we’ve all departed for home), came downstairs. And I asked the big question of the morning – “Did you lose a tooth?” His expression was priceless as we relayed the story about the lost tooth. And while he laughed about it, he didn’t think we should retrieve it from the trash as he was overly grossed out and didn’t see the value of its humor being located someplace in Cross-eyed Mary’s.
And while we may never know the owner of the found tooth, we all knew we had yet another great story from a visit to Scott’s to laugh about and share with others for years to come. And I know, somewhere in a little bar in Mexico, after a heavy night of drinking, someone got into a fight and lost a tooth. And that someone just might be happy that it was the tooth with the cavity and that they would no longer have to visit a dentist to get it filled. But there’s also that patron that found that tooth and took inventory of his own teeth before asking, “¿Perdiste un diente?”
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