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It’s a warm evening on South Beach.
Fish bowls of blue cocktail drink on the table, and friends from back home visiting.
Reggaeton blasting. Crowds of people tramping up and down the block.
The beach is just across the street. You can’t hear, smell, or see it under the music, cooking food, and darkness, but it’s there.
Steve and I are raving drunk. Laughing about something moronic. Our dates are getting to know each other.
“Buttons for sale, buttons for sale.”
A Rasta man with his head in a giant wrap wears a coat completely covered in pin buttons.
He rattles one lapel at me.
“Buttons for sale,” he says.
Jesus, Sinatra, Hailie Selassie, Marley, Marylyn, Elvis, Bogart all on buttons.
“Hey!” I say.
Lurching a little at this point.
“That’s Idi Amin! He’s on your jacket with Elvis and Jesus and whoever.”
“He eats people!”
“So Rastas don’t even eat meat but you got a guy who eats people on your button.”
“That’s not my problem!” he says.
I think about that. Deeply drunk, it sounds like logic.
I mean, who’s problem would it be, then?
“You want to buy that man eater button?”
“No man, I’m good.”
“Can’t be thinkin’ you’re above other people,” he says. But with good humor and a smile.
“I don’t, in fact, I was probably a guy like you in another life.”
Steve drunk laughs at the mental image. My date looks at me suspiciously. I think I’m slurring my words a little.
“You could be a guy like me in this life, too. You don’t need your things.”
“You’re right, take my jacket,” I say.
I unhook it from the back of my chair. Shove it right at the Rasta man, who is shocked.
Steve puts his hand on my jacket.
“You sir, are officially drunk,” Steve says. He’s swaying a little himself, though.
The Rasta man is laughing hysterically now.
He walks away, still laughing.
You can hear his jacket buttons jingling for a mile.