"St. Pete or Bust! 2000" story # 17

St. Pete Beach, Florida           December 14, 2000

- Update: The Florida Hitchhiking Scavenger Hunt wasn't attempted as scheduled. It will be postponed until January. -

Finding the right girl for the much-anticipated Wrestling-Animals Date wasn't easy. My "Terri Irwin", if you will, has to be quick, brave, and cunning.
     Martina is all the above, and my best salsa-dancing partner. She's half-Italian, with a long pony-tail. Her nose scrunches a bit when she does her short, climactic laugh - one of the sweetest laughs around.
     We drove down St. Pete Beach's touristy main road, keeping a keen eye open for animals to wrestle. Martina spotted some! Plastic reindeer were lined up on a fancy hotel lawn. We parked the car, and I posed behind them, pretending to drive the sleigh. Martina snapped a picture, and we sprinted to the car like it was an African safari.
     The next good animal habitat was just across the street: a mini-golf course. The Polynesian Putter's cashier allowed us inside, despite the danger. Martina stealthily snuck up on a colorful ten-foot tiger and grabbed it by the mane. Wow, she is brave! I took the photo. Martina and I didn't fare so well against a thirty-foot, green and red python. It coiled me up against a tree and tasted Martina, who gave a dreadful look from within its mouth.
     At another nice hotel, Martina spoke to security. "We're on a mission..."
     "A date!" I said.
     "We were wondering if we could maybe just strangle-hold the dolphins in your fountain?"
     The security guy said, "Well, you'll have to speak to head of security for that." He pointed to the lady standing right next to him.
     I don't think she wanted to answer our question either. She stared at us for a second, then told us which way we needed to go to get off hotel property quick.
     So, we couldn't wrestle the dolphins, but they were easily forgotten, because big, yellow Pikachu was next. For months, his position in a pickup truck on St. Pete Beach has haunted me. Those stupid, long ears! That blasted tongue that he just can't keep in his mouth! I've come to consider Pikachu a bit of a nemesis. I'd waited for the moment Martina and I got in the truck with him like a nomad in the Sahara Desert must wait for a glass of water. Martina held him for me, while I gave him a few hard jabs between the eyes. MODERN ODDYSEUS DATING ADVICE # 14 - Pikachu sucks.
     After getting shakes from the shake shop, we'd recovered the strength we were gonna need in that dense wilderness of varied animal species ... the mall. Lots of people were at the mall (I think their reasons for being there were different from ours), but it didn't stop Martina from scooping up a department store teddy bear and giving it a noogy. "I saw that," a worker said.
     Next, Martina asked an unfortunate girl if she'd wrestle me, because she had christmas antlers on. The girl agreed to it, and she posed as I tried tackling her. What a sport.
     My date became a bully and choked a small frog. In the Disney store, we asked an employee to photograph us wrestling Pumba and the 102 Dalmations. The girl did so, but only after saying, in that cheery, annoying Disney way: "I can't take a picture of you wrestling the animals, but I can take a picture of you HOLDING the animals."
     Some ugly blue-armed green thing gnawed on my head next. But, what did this date need? How about some funky clothes for props. I donned an outback hat and Martina a safari one, and we posed with animals on our heads and around our necks. We looked like we should have our own tv show: Martina and Justin's "Stuffed Animal Hunter" deserves a prime-time slot, I think.
     I got a big Grinch in a headlock. A little Grinch got the best of Martina, tugging on her cheek and poking her in the eye.
     We needed safety from the overwhelming animals, so we went to the music store. We fooled around with an electronic piano, until it played a merengue beat we could dance to. Shoppers in the mall looked at us funny as we spun eachother around the store, but it was a fitting end to the date - Martina's laugh, wrestling animals, AND Latin-dancing. What a nice Sunday. What a nice weekend to stay home.
     And, luckily, we survived the day with few bruises and a winning record. The final score, as determined by the photographs: "Date of the Week-ers" - 7. The animals - 5. Ha, ha. We kicked their tails. Take that, Pikachu! Nyeh, nyeh!

later, Modern Oddyseus

(No animals were harmed in the making of this e-mail.)

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