“Doc told me I had to lay off the coffee and smokes. Didn’t say nothin’ ‘bout any sweet tea.” Shack hands the woman a tall, sweating glass of the stuff. She wasn’t as pretty or young as the girls that used to come by. But, then again, neither was he. Neither was anything anymore.
“Ever had real Southern sweet tea before?” He asks her, playing for time to try and remember her name. S-something, wasn’t it? She shakes her head and says no in an unfamiliar accent, which doesn’t help anything.
“They make it by takin’ regular iced tea and then boiling it. See, when you boil tea, you make more space for the sugar. You get everything movin’ around so quick, it slides together. That’s what I was like on the skis, you know. Movin’ and slidin’ around. All fast like.”
The segue is unintentional, and the nostalgia hits him like a submerged log.
He peers out at McKellar Lake, the estuary where he made a name and built his houseboat, not saying anything. “But, now look at it. It’s all crap and limbs and chemical run-off.”
“Guess everything’s gotta cool down at some point.”
Southern sweet tea is an absolutely insane super-solution of sugar and tea. Which makes it a perfect paring to Marvin “Shack” Shackelford, the impresario water skier that dominated the marina scene at McKellar Lake in the 1970s. For a period, he held the world record for distance skiing, setting it on the slackwaters of the Mississippi that make up McKellar Lake. I don’t know what happened to Shackelford after the McKellar lake marina scene dried up as pollution became unbearable.