Project Parrothead: A failed experiment in Jimmy Buffett extremism

Photo by Tony Nelson
Some actual Parrotheads at this week's Jimmy Buffett show.

Beginning the night of December 2, 2013, I embarked upon a foolhardy and ill-fated mission to spend 24 hours straight converting myself into the biggest Jimmy Buffett fan in the Twin Cities metro area.

For the uninitiated, Jimmy Buffett is the undisputed champion of wearing Hawaiian shirts and celebrating drunk, bacchanalian behavior, and his tribe is known as the Parrotheads. For more on his musical exploits, read my review of Tuesday's show at the Xcel. As a pop culture figure, he sits on a throne of golden calamari, and his Margaritaville brand produces clothing, frozen food, and alcoholic beverages.

See Also: Jimmy Buffett at Xcel Energy Center, 12/3/13

As I knew stability would be needed, I recruited the help of my co-worker Grant Richardson -- a stable and happy-go-lucky character from the Minneapolis underground noise/punk/metal scene. It was a challenge of the mind, body, and spirit, and I regretfully admit to the world that we were overtaken by margaritas, rum, cheeseburgers, and coconut shrimp. My esophagus still stings from heartburn, a cruel reminder of the madness induced by an overexposure of paradise.

To mirror what Buffett fans consume on a regular basis, the cheapest rum and 100 percent agave tequila was purchased at Surdyk's along with a standard-issue bottle of pineapple juice. An hour later, I found myself at a friend's house where I consumed my first sugary mistake: an unconventional margarita made using cinnamon, sugar, and lime juice. The creator of the beverage, a stout IT recruiter named Dennis, put Jimmy Buffett on his laptop as I sucked down the beverage.

Photo courtesy of Drew Ailes
I bet you can guess which one is me and which one is Grant.

"This sounds like Raffi for adults. I'm going to lose my mind at this show, right?" I asked.
"Parrotheads are pretty hardcore, man. I'm serious," Dennis replied.

Feeling uneasy, I embarked upon the next quest in my adventure and went out to purchase Margaritaville brand foods. A quick glance of the clear-blue watery website revealed that products were available at Wal-Mart. I shrugged and purchased the most comparable foods at the Wedge co-op. On my way out, I placed a demand for Jimmy Buffett's culinary creations using a printed form off of the Margaritaville website.

What followed was a restless night of sleep involving the headphone digestion of the Mississippi native's first six albums' worth of beach-bum anthems. I woke up the next day and immediately began consuming margaritas and cooking cheeseburgers for breakfast -- after I threw a 20-minute fit over losing an entire block of cheese. One could easily draw a parallel to Jimmy Buffett's most famous plight of losing a salt shaker; surely it was a sign that the transformation into a tried-and-true Parrothead had begun.

Wearing an outfit acquired the night before, consisting of a terrycloth hat, Hawaiian shirt, and khaki shorts, I attended classes at MCTC reeking of beef and rum. After a short nap at home while listening to Buffett's Volcano album, another cheeseburger was cooked while a mixture of panko, shredded coconut, salt, and Chinese five-spice was blended together to prep for the ultimate island treat: coconut shrimp. The mix along with the alcohol was brought to the local degenerate freak house where my co-workers Grant and Max reside.

I pulled up and saw my concert companion, Grant, standing outside in the cold wearing khakis and a Hawaiian shirt.

When questioned about his day at work of listening only to Jimmy Buffett, Grant stated, "I would equate my education on Mr. Buffett today to walking in on my parents having sex. What's that noise? Is Daddy hurting Mommy? Oh wait, they seem to like this."

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