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Wednesday
Jul032013

Proper Parrotheading

The advent of summer means that Jimmy Buffett puts on his flip-flops and hits the road again.  Buffett Week is a high holy occasion back where I come from, and I imagine that even after the day comes when he’s changing out the margarita mix for Ensure, he’ll still make sure to stop by Cincinnati.  After all, that’s where the name of his loyal band of laid-back followers was born:  Looking out on a Southern Ohio sea of tropical shirts and beach balls, one of his bandmates leaned over and said, “Man, those aren’t Deadheads… they’re Parrotheads!”

After attending three concerts, one of them backstage as part of Buffett’s security detail (why yes, there is a book in this somewhere, now that you ask) and living five years in Florida with his Orlando Margaritaville as my main bachelorette hangout, Jimmy and I are old friends… even if he doesn’t know it.  So from a self-designated expert, here is how to Parrothead:

Back Away From the Bar

It’s a fine line: Traditionally, Buffett ticketholders are in a very good mood, but if you overdo it during the pre-concert tailgate, you’ll miss the actual concert, not to mention the $60 you’ve contributed to Buffett’s next personal airplane.  If you want to get the most out of a Parrothead “phlocking”, come to terms with the paradox that the pina coladas must be paced.  Believe me, the bathroom is not the best place to be during a Buffett show, for any number of reasons.

You Must Dress the Part

When I first learned about the dress code for a Buffett concert, I was suspicious; after all, we Cincinnatians aren’t known for our cutting edge behavior.  But upon seeing photos in the daily paper of my fellow townsfolk in lies, shark hats, and hats of inflatable flamingoes, I knew that my mother’s borrowed Hawaiian muumuu and I would fit right in.  Is it colorful?  Is it something you’d otherwise never wear in public?  Does it somehow involve coconuts?  It’ll do.

Learn the Moves

“Fins to the left” at the top of “Fins” is your signal to place your palms together up above your head and sway in the indicated direction.  Repeat the process with “fins to the right.” Repeat each chorus until end of song or end of consciousness, whichever comes first.

Know Your Place

Full audience participation is encouraged, but the man has said it himself:  “It’s not nice to beat Jimmy to the words of his own song.”  Prepare for proper show behavior by listening to any of Buffett’s recent concert albums—Feeding Frenzy; Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays; or his most recent, Live in Anguilla.  (You Had to Be There is one of his best live albums, but was performed inside, on painkillers, and about thirty years ago.  The show has changed since then.)   Before long, you’ll know when to sway quietly and when to come in with “SALT!  SALT!  SALT!” on the “Margaritaville” downbeat. 

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