Cracking Up

Just as the crowd started to get interested, we packed up. That's the way you have to play it. Never give them too much. On our way out, we distributed egg-fact pamphlets to the News Cafe patrons.

Detrick, apparently not yet recovered, bid farewell in his own unique way. "Thank you very much," he thundered through the bullhorn, his free hand clenched into a fist. "You've all been total assholes!"

Location: Sidewalk just north of News Cafe, 800 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach

Starting time: 2:01 p.m.

Ending time: 2:14 p.m.

Highest surface temperature: 113 degrees

Glutination Index: 4


At Marvez's suggestion, Detrick chose the next site, and we sped north, past a sign reading Euro-Ice ("Isn't that the rapper who pretends to be such a tough guy when he's not even really from Europe?" he asked), past the geriatric district, where Marvez claimed she could smell the aroma of white shoe polish, past the blocky bay-coast condos and the mean motels.

Detrick didn't seem at peace until he swung the car into the parking lot of the Pussycat Theater near 79th and Biscayne. "Hello," he said, apparently speaking to the theater itself. "A legitimate local landmark. What a facade. Why, the last time I was here...." Enraptured, he couldn't even muster the strength to continue.

Our stay at the Pussycat lasted only minutes, just enough time for Detrick to unleash another amplified barrage of insults at bystanders ("Go ahead, Pee-wee," he yelled at a short, fat man in a denim jacket who was slinking into the theater. "We'll be right in.") and to suggest that we fry an egg on Marvez. More specifically, on her breasts. By then she had done enough superficial psychoanalysis to understand Detrick's aggression (even coining a term, "bullhorny"). A little bosom break seemed to be just what the doctor needed. In the tradition of great entertainers, she agreed. Detrick nestled his head close to the silicone valley and breathed deeply, calmly.

Location: Pussycat Theater, 7770 Biscayne Boulevard

Starting time: 3:10 p.m.

Ending time: 3:12 p.m.

Highest surface temperature: 98.6 degrees

Glutination Index: 10


The carnal serenity of the Pussycat soon subsided. Growing despondent over his failure to fry, Detrick vowed, voice quavering, that if the next site didn't pan out, he'd buy a giant skillet, hoist Marvez on his shoulders, and force her to cook an egg over Bayside's Torch of Friendship. "I want some eggs smoking on the pavement," he muttered to himself. "At the very least, I want a confrontation with authority."

On the steps of the Dade County Courthouse, he got half his wish. Confrontation seemed like a done deal from the minute he angle-parked in an illegal space and tuned to Channel Bullhorn again, filling the air with cries of "Bring me an honest judge!"

While he cavorted, Marvez got off to a promising start, passing out pamphlets. Detrick settled down long enough to crack an egg, and the future looked bright -- the surface temperatures were the hottest yet, over 114 degrees. Equally important was the crowd participation. Lawyers and judges stopped to watch on their way inside. Security guards made casual bets among themselves as they fondled their ear pieces. Secretaries wondered aloud if maybe we weren't some sort of ponderously symbolic pro-life group, or a road company for the "This is your brain on drugs" commercial. With eight minutes passed, the egg was beginning to cloud. Victory was near.

Then the heat moved in -- unfortunately, a different sort of heat. A host of officially sanctioned goons -- Assistant Building Manager Juan Silva, Metro-Dade Police Officer Robert Taylor, and a half-dozen graduates of the Stern Guys With Cigars Academy -- approached with hands on hips (their own hips) and ordered us to leave. Well, at first they asked nicely, but when we refused, then they ordered, and they wouldn't back down. Not even when we entreated them a few minutes in the name of science. Not even when Marvez sidled toward Officer Taylor and offered to whip up a little sensual souffle. No go. No way. No dice. We got the boot, and the first egg that showed any promise was dumped in a plastic garbage bag and tossed unceremoniously.

We left with the crowd urging us to stay. "Wait!" one woman cried. "I wanted to see it happen." We were cult heroes, champions of the people, a reinterpretation of Turk 182 for the All-Dairy Network. Detrick bellowed through the bullhorn that it was police intimidation, narrow-minded Philistines unzipping to display their authority, and what kind of country is this if a man can't even crack an egg on the steps of a public building in the name of legitimate scientific inquiry?

Location: Dade County Courthouse, 73 West Flagler Street

Starting time: 3:37 p.m.

Ending time: 3:46 p.m.

Highest surface temperature: 114 degrees

Glutination index: 6*

*Index should be adjusted upward to compensate for ill-timed police intervention.


We unwound from our tense confrontation by cracking atop a New Times news rack in Coral Gables. The news racks, in case you're not familiar with them, are red. Very red. So red, apparently, that the City Beautiful found cause one fine March afternoon to yank them off the street without warning, claiming that their boisterous ruby shade disrupted the Gables's chromatic quietude. A judge (the honest one) will eventually unscramble the mess, and in the meantime, we thought we'd have a hassle-free omelet on the flat metal hotbox. But the surface temperatures were anemic (108 or so), and before we knew it, wisps of clouds were starting to undo the afternoon sky. Eggsasperated and eggshausted, we swept our ignominy into the bushes. Detrick and Marvez shook hands and traded business cards. We parted.

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