See it Like a Native

A Brief Review of the 1988 Miami Leadership Seminar

by John Johnson and Raman Pfaff
Reprinted from V5N1, August 1991

The night was humid, as most of the nights are in Miami. It had started as a typical night for a bunch of us PPSA members. John and I (Raman) had gone down to the sunny south to witness the wedding of another esteemed member, Eric Hoffman. However, before a wedding it is necessary to party for a least a few days. This is necessary since you'll be married for the rest of your life for Christ's sake! Anyway, lets not get too deeply into this marriage thing.

As we arrived at the bar (try a Duffy dog at Duffy's if you're ever in town) there was limited parking available due to the holiday atmosphere pervading the city. It was as festive as a squirrel with a king size nut. We proceeded to park at the liquor store across the parking lot and as we entered the drinking establishment I repeatedly told John to move the car. I did not want the rental car towed and billed to John's Gold Card. That would have made John as happy as a dog in a thunderstorm with fleas. Shortly thereafter a legal parking space opened and John went to move our car. Eric did not. We did not see his car again for four of the longest hours of our young lives. Upon leaving the bar Eric said, "Oh #$%#@, I've been towed." The adventure had begun.

We immediately wrote down the address of the fine towing establishment and proceeded to look for it. Eric and I had both lived in Miami for a substantial part of our lives and did not think that it would be difficult to find, even though it was in Northwest Miami where neither of us had previously ventured.

As the journey began, we were still feeling the effects of many imported beers and had some problems trying to navigate around the airport. At one point we were driving down what we thought was the road, until we saw an airplane drive past us on it's way to the great blue yonder. I'd never realized that planes were so large before. Eventually, like molasses through a sieve, we found our way to the northern side of town. Once there we began to look for the appropriate street address. This was not as easy as we had hoped since our headlights were pointing under the front bumper. Also we had entered an area of town where the streets have no name. During this entire time Metro-Dade's finest men in blue were constantly driving by at about a hundred miles per hour. I don't know where they were going but they certainly didn't seem to want to stop to help some poor tourist looking for a street. We finally thought we had found the right street and we turned down it. Oh my, what a mistake. As the street got smaller we could see ghostly figures moving about in the distance. From out of nowhere five hounds from hell appeared silently and started pacing the car. As we approached the slowly moving figures ahead we could see that they were people walking the night in their bedclothes in search or whatever the night had to offer. We turned around immediately and the hounds from hell chose this moment to attack again. As we were driving away we thought we were going to hit one of them but they disappeared as quickly as they had shown themselves. You know how it is with those creatures of the devil.

Well, we'd had enough of that so we decided that we would try to find a phone and ask for directions. Shortly thereafter we found what seemed to be a quiet enough pay phone. With our last quarter in hand (we'd used all the rest playing foosball) we stopped the car. All of a sudden about four young gentlemen stepped out of the bushes and proceeded to wash our window. We didn't bother to tell them that we couldn't see anyway with our headlight situation (recall that the headlights were pointing under the car). We persuaded the men to leave by giving them our last quarter. They also tried to give us directions, but we'd already been there and we knew they knew not about what they spoke.

The adventure continued. After driving past the open crack table (one of the most prominent landmarks in the area) we found another pay phone which looked as lonely as a cactus in Siberia. We scouted the area and decided it looked as safe as we could expect in the area. Eric got out of the car and proceeded to make his call. John decided he needed to rid himself (in the biblical sense) of some of the evening's beer. Walking around the corner he proceeded to unsheathe himself and suddenly noticed that God's Gift was about to be exposed to about the largest doberman he had ever seen (sorry Biff, but it made you look like a sick poodle). Needless to say, he crept back to the car as quietly as a Christmas mouse. Meanwhile, Eric was on the phone trying in vain to get the towing company to forgive his mistake and not charge him the $115 dollars they customarily do. Not a chance. It turned out that the address had been incorrect in the phone book and we were in fact many miles from the actual location. In the meantime a brand new black Thunderbird had pulled up. This car was loaded with all the extras. The window smoothly rolled down with an electric whir and a voice came from the darkened car.

"You guys lookin' for Alamo?" He had obviously seen our rental car sticker.

We told him we needed no help and we thought he would leave. He stayed for a few minutes and John noticed that the gentleman was speaking into a microphone. He went over to the car and was informed that the nice man was an undercover police officer and a shootout was about to occur in the area. We were instructed to leave as soon as possible. I had no problem with that suggestion. John forcefully took the phone from Eric (mindful of the killing machine nearby) and extracted the address from the company. We climbed back into the Cavvy machine (ah, our lovely Chevrolet Cavalier) and continued our journey into the unknown. We felt a lot like Sinbad exploring the edge of the world.

Needless to say I (John now, this is kind of like tag team typing) wanted to be a live explorer by the end of the night. So I got behind the wheel and peeled outa that lot, and headed north, dodging bullets as I drove. Atter that stopping at about 5 all-nite gas stations to get instructions for the "correct" address. Half of these looked like they were about to be robbed and the rest had attendants who looked like they would rob us. Anyhow, stopping to ask instructions without speaking Cuban is pretty useless. So I went on my well documented intuition. Even with that handicap we found the notorious Galactic Towing by about 3:00 A.M. -- only three hours and about 100 miles atter leaving Duffy's. After another hour we convinced Eric to shut up and pay the money. We found a Publix (shopping center) and Eric got the money. We headed back to Galactic and almost got run off the road by some very impatient police, but we got the car un-impounded. Then, on our way to the main highway (see, we still had to drive back to Eric's house in southwest Miami!) we saw a whole group of police cars below and around us as we passed over a bridge. I was busy keeping the Cavvy on the road, but Raman said they were pulling a body out of the river. Pfaff claims it was Jimmy Hoffa but I think that is stretching it a bit. Of course, we had to return to Eric's via Coconut Grove - thus rounding out our mileage for the night to about 180 miles! We definately saw Miami like natives!

There were other eventful times too! Like the next night - Thanksgiving. You may ask, "Didn't you partake in the national pastime of eating turkey with relatives and watching football?" Well, yes and no. We ate a nice dinner at Eric's parent's house and watched some football... but Jim and Gary (the Bot-master) had other plans. Atter a couple of hours of cards and stag films, we had had enough - this was not only Thanksgiving, but Batchelor Party night!! We let our fingers do the walking and located the Pink Pussycat Lounge, near the airport. They were open until 5 A.M., and we intended to close them. Memories of the evening include $3.00 beers and polite wholesome waitresses. And nothing is more wholesome than an nice young lady named "Goldie" dancing nude on your table. I looked upon this as an educational experience. Goldie taught me the true meaning of tan lines. [Grin] I have to give you some inclination of how one tips such a nice young lady... You have to tightly roll fifty dollar bills (well, we didn't have many of those, so we used ones, but it's the thought that counts right? - anyhow, Gary brought enough to keep us in garters til close) and then you insert the bills in the garter of a waitress. In fact, every girl will come to your table and beg after she dances on stage. That may sound sexist, but you aint' heard nothin' yet! So, when you are inclined to make a donation, you have to "stick it" in her garter - but make sure that the garter is high enough. Jim was quite loopy and started us saying "a little higher".... They loved us there! Also, it you are good with origami you could get creative and maybe impress someone. Needless to say, we did close the place at 5:00, and we made it back to Eric's in one piece.

The rest of the "Leadership Conference" was pretty good, too. Jim, Gary and I went to Key Biscayne on Friday. We even tried to wind surf. Ha! That was a funy sight alright Gary actually did fairly well, but Jim and I were lucky to walk away! Later on we met up with Paul Schafer from "Late Nite". He was trying to pick up babes. Although Jim was as obnoxious as ever ("Are you really Paul Schafer??") We had a good time with him (I explained that Jim hadn't ever gotten over the Viet Nam War). We had to leave though to make the reception dinner at Eric's parent's house, so we left Paul with some tips on what hot Miami babes wanted in guys (he kept insisting he was just a naive Canadian musician, but we told him to flaunt his money).

Eric's wedding was great! Raman was best man, and I MC'd his reception. The reception was the best part of the whole wedding. You can keep that long Catholic ceremony, I'll take the open bar any day! We all danced and partied and DRANK!! And Raman and I thought that would be it... we forgot that we were with Jim (Tequila!). So we decided, we can stop for a drink, eh? We did and Jim found a companion. Raman had to return home for medical reasons (I must admit I've never seen Eric's driveway so colorful.) I returned to Hoolihan's, and Jim and Gary and Jim's friend and I decided to head to Miami Beach. Between Jim's liking to grab the parking brake, and his waving his fingers in my face, saying "Smell this!", I'd guess I should consider myself lucky that I lived through it all. Modesty doesn't allow me to say much more than, "I'm glad it was ME behind wheel of the Cavvy!"

Things calmed down after that. Raman and I returned to Michigan Tuesday via Northwest Deathlink. We did almost die once though. No, not while I was driving! It we had gotten to Alamo to return the Cavvy any earlier, we would have been on the Alamo shuttle bus that was involved in a big accident. Being God Emperors has its advantage I guess. All-in-all, it was pretty difficult having to endure those 80 degree sunny days, while it was snowing in Michigan. But then, being a God Emperor means making sacrifices for others. We'll get over the trauma, but the world will be a better place because of us.

Your humble reporters, Raman & John

[Remember that leadership seminars (aka: Road Trips) are an integral part of PPSA life. In February 1989, Ray is attending a seminar in New Orleans over Mardi Gras. We hope to hear from him. -Ed.]

Last Updated 04/13/95.© 1996 PPSA