November 27, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
31°F
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No escaping Barry Bonds’ gigantic head

ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Fla. — You don’t know where this place is. Lemme help. You get here by a double causeway that doglegs out from the town of Apalachicola. That’s in the Panhandle on the Gulf side of Florida. Down here they call it The Forgotten Coast.
Lately, though, they’ve been remembering The Forgotten Coast. Too bad, too. Once people know a place is there, in come the high-rises, the condos, the SUVs, the cell phones and worst of all — the people. One of them, a former Alabamian — a woman who was probably in her late 30s but whose skin was 30 years older than that what with all the golfing in the sun — was a help, however.
You can always tell a woman who knows her way around the last two holes of a golf course — the 18th and 19th: Alligator skin that’s never been touched by aloe vera, legs like milk bottles (honest, the stuff used to come in bottles. A man they called The Milkman would deliver it to your door.) and a voice as smooth as sandpaper. She was one of those. Still, she was a help.
“Thar’s one of them Internet stores over on Gulf Drive, honey. No one’s hardly ever in the place,” she tells me in her sandpaper voice. In another 10 years or so she will look like one of those Seminole Indians you see in the National Geographic. The cutline beneath the photo would say that the Indian woman pictured above is 104 years old.
Which is how I come to you now. Sitting in an Internet cafe in my bathing trunks hunched over a computer. Outside, the sun is high enough and hot enough (read: scorching) that you figure it’s about 2 o’clock or so. Except you’d be figuring wrong. The clock on the wall says it’s past 4 pm. The sun is a fooler here. If you stay out too long in it, you get all dizzy. Today I’m dizzy. And my swimming trunks are still wet from the bathwater-warm Gulf.
It’s the Internet which told me that Barry Bonds smacked a pair of home runs Thursday. Geez. Even down here I can’t escape the guy. He’s become as omnipresent as, well, the sun. Except Barry’s head is larger, of course — and doesn’t slide beneath the horizon at sunset.
It’s always out, Barry’s head — most especially on ESPN, which has been feeding us, er … super-sizing us … Barry’s steroid feats in a year-long vomitfest known as The Chronicles of Barry.
Of all people, it would be Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa would be easier to stomach. Even Mark McGwire.
Egads … what is he now … two shy of tying Aaron and three short of setting the all-time home run record? Say it ain’t so, Hank.
The story goes on to say that the Giants are off for Milwaukee next. Lawdy, Lawdy. The Great Designated Hitter in The Sky is quite a kidder, isn’t he? Imagine putting Barry in Milwaukee — which happens to be the hometown residence of one Mister Bud Selig, the commissioner who played stork during baseball’s entire Steroid Age.
The only times the former car salesman brought his head out of the sand during that 10-year period was to genuflect over the dollars that the record-breaking home run seasons of Bonds, Sosa and McGwire brought to Major League Baseball. Oh, yeah. He emerged long enough to call the All-Star Game a tie that time in his own hometown.
Would be poetic justice and just desserts all rolled into one big gooey sundae were Bonds to hit those home runs this weekend in Milwaukee. Serve Bud right. What’s he going to do — say he has pressing business in New York and can’t attend?
Me? I just want this business over with. (I gotta make a confession here. Blame it on too much sun, if you like, but I’ve been secretly hoping for a kneecap breaker to come along and do a Nancy Kerrigan number on Bonds. Tonya Harding must have another guy who specializes in knees among her crew. I probably shouldn’t have these thoughts, but like I said, the sun is scorching and I’m only human. Or was until I got here.)
New topic: Uncle Roy.
The Uncle Roy Show, featuring Uncle Roy’s All-World Band, plays Tuesday nights at Eddy Teach’s Raw Bar, a funky little watering hole hard by the tidewater. Layton Muggredge, who hails from Tuscaloosa, says he was havin’ hisself some raw oysters one evening out on the back patio (a picnic table set on a patch of grass) when a gator — the real kind, not the kind that whupped the Buckeyes so bad last year — crawled up out of the marsh.
Uncle Roy’s All-World Band has only one member. That would be Uncle Roy hisself. He plays the harmonica, the Zy-do-phone and a tub that you’d wash sweat socks in. He plays the blues and some country and some mish-mash of Caribbean-Lou-eez-e-anna knee-slappin’ stuff that I ain’t sure what you’d call it.
Anyway, what you do is set yourself down at a picnic table, order a dozen raw, some hot sauce, a cold one and maybe a burger for the roughage and have yourself a time. You do all this while trying to forget you ever the saw “Deliverance” or “Easy Rider.” That’d be because of the characters hangin’ out at Eddy’s listening to Uncle Roy play a little something he calls “Because of the Warm Red Wine.”
If you listen to the words real close, you find it was because of the warm, red wine that some bad things happened to this guy from over Crystal City way because of what he did with Roy’s second cousin Marylou Sue that day in August a few years back.
As Uncle Roy tells the crowd sucking down oysters and beer at the bar, “It’s all about the stories.”
They was good ones, too, them stories. Are the kind that sticks to your ribs.
So down here where the edge of the Earth meets the Gulf and there is only the scorching sun, talcum powder sand, gators, oysters, cold beer, the tidewater, jellyfish that sting but don’t otherwise harm ya none and 72 Florida State foo’ball stories in the sports pages, I had to go and ruin it.
I had to go into town and find me one of those Internet cafes that keeps one in touch with the outside world. Like they say, I shoulda stood in bed.
Or, at least, at Eddy Teach’s raw bar listening to Uncle Roy. If I close my eyes I can hear Uncle Roy’s harmonica and see the sun sliding down into the tidewater.
Looks as fat and full as Barry Bonds’ big ol’ head, it does.
Contact Doug Clarke at ctsports@chroniclet.com.