The Royal Order Of The Groundhog

At El Nopal in Florence, and the Royal Order Of The Groundhog is here. A guy on a loudspeaker just yelled “All rise!” Apparently it’s their 25th anniversary meeting. The Silver Jubilee. Shit’s about to get real. They just pledged allegiance to the Royal Order of the Groundhog and to their “burrow.” They have flags. And now they’re singing the groundhog anthem and toasting each other with mugs of beer. I’m not even joking. There are people who came up from Florida for this. They’re reminiscing about when they used to meet at Chi-Chi’s. And now there’s a chorus line, complete with feather boas, canes, and sparkly top hats. They’re singing “Give My Regards To Groundhog.” They’re dancing and throwing plastic coins now.

That’s all I could get. The groundhog is a mysterious and elusive creature. You thought I was lying, didn’t you? I don’t blame you. I was so mesmerized that it never occurred to me to get photographic evidence until it was almost too late. But I got it. Proof. I feel like the guy who photographed Bigfoot. I couldn’t make this shit up. Mark and I also stumbled across these people at Camino Real, after it moved from the hotel into the old Frisch’s across the street. When Camino Real went out of business, El Nopal opened in the same building. Apparently the groundhogs opted not to leave.

The first time Mark and I saw these people, we formed our own group: The Holy Brotherhood Of The Luminous Crustacean. So named because we both tried the shrimp that night, and also in honor of that lobster in the aquarium that used to decorate the entrance (you know, because lobster is such a traditional Mexican food). They had some kind of intense blue industrial halogen UV Batsignal spotlight in that tank. You could see that lobster from space. Anyway, you’re welcome to join the Brotherhood if you desire. We don’t have fancy meetings like the Groundhogs, but if you’re ever with us and you eat shrimp ’til you puke, we never, ever judge.

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