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There is a character that has been with us from the beginning that is nearly a legend in Bonita springs by now. His name is Gator. That's not the name found on his birth certificate. People don't even know his real name and it just doesn't matter anyway. Just don't call him late for the fishing trip. There are other hombres called Gator but this one is the original Gator as far as I am concerned. Kinda like when you call flavored gelatin, "Jello" - no substitutes here.

This bayou-bred man has frequently been known to raise a few alligators as pets and display them for the snow- birds at the old bar. It was not uncommon years ago to have a few baby alligators running around the restaurant floor. We did have a little problem with the Wildlife & Game authorities. The officer had no choice but to give him a ticket. When going to court, the judge asked Gator right out, "Do you raise alligators?" Being the honest man he is, Gator replied, "Yes I do, for the enjoyment of the tourists and little kids. The judge obviously liked Gator and reduced the fine and gave Gator a year to pay off the $400.

Harboring the little babies under his shirt is part of the taming process - he has the scars to prove it. "A bathtub and some raw hamburger is all you need"' says Gator. Tattooed on his chest is a foot-long alligator that looks a lot like a dragon. Gator has told us many amusing anecdotes about hid life, but most we can't print.

One story is about the time he was frequenting "The Dome" bar. He walked in carrying one of those baby car seats with a blanket over the contents. Putting it on the pool table, he went to the bar for some of his favorite golden beverage, Milwaukee's Best Light. After 5 or 10 minutes went by, the waitress just had to take a peek at the "baby." When pulling back the blanket, she screamed at the sight of a baby alligator jumping at her.

It is no secret that Gator enjoys beer daily, but he knows his limit and hardly makes a fuss. His drinking talents were put to the test one time. He and his friend, "Rabbit", had a drinking contest. The rules were simple, both had to drink a shot glass full of beer every minute until someone falls out. Sounds easy, right? Think again. That is 60 oz. every hour. Believe me that's tough for even a German guy. After a few hours, a small crowd began to gather. Then around 6 pm, after 6 hours (6 pitchers each), the Gator was disqualified when his shot of beer came flying out of his nose after drinking it. To this day Rabbit has on his resume', under special skills, he defeated the Gator.

Gator is also the best security system made. Rumor has it, that our silent alarm went off at 3 am one morning waking Gator up. Within seconds, he was in the restaurant wearing only cowboy boots, leopard skin bikini briefs and a cowboy hat. While inspecting for intruders with his Russian assault rifle, he a found little Mexican fella who obviously feel asleep in our bathroom after closing. I wish I could have seen the look on that poor guy's face after waking to see Gator in all his glory. It's a good thing he was in the bathroom already when he crapped his pants.

Along with other talents, he is a fine horticulturist. He worked in a nursery for some time before his employment here at The Buffalo Chips. He is not a real big sportsman though, other than NASCAR and fishing. Rumor has it, He was awakened from some fella's playing late-night basketball outside his apartment, after warning them repeatedly to stop, he finally decided to shoot their basketball. The game ended rather quickly.

We have never had a problem with stray animals loitering about the property for some reason. I was told by Gator that alligators hate cats but they like dogs. I think he was talking about diets, not their socializing habits.

So, if you want some good ole southern company and conversation with a real living Bonita legend while sipping on an ice cold one, pull up a stool next to "his" favorite seat. If the gentlemen next to you, frequently uses phrases like "But it feels so good", or "here kitty-kitty-kitty" or "you look good since you quit" and he is wearing a cowboy hat and a bolo; you found The Gator.