On the lighter side of the Nonahood, this is a column about the humorous realities of life in Central Florida. We must choose to laugh and sweat rather than cry and sweat.
Is Central Florida a hospitable place for human beings? After living here for seven years, I’m not so sure. Let’s do some empirical observation of this environment we’ve chosen to call home.
On any given day, how many turkey buzzards do you see loafing around with nothing to do? Whenever I walk by, I can just feel their big black eyes boring into the back of my neck. If I’m reading their body language correctly, they’re saying, “He looks yummy, but let’s let him ripen a bit.”
Or let us observe sand. I’ve seen sand being pretty good at the beach, at least when kids aren’t around. However, when it’s not at the beach, it gets up to and into things it shouldn’t. Say you’re driving by one of Central Florida’s road-work crews, which surely employs half of our population, and you have your windows down. (They’re not down because your spouse says, “You’re too lazy to call a mechanic to fix your AC.” They’re down because you like them that way and, well … they’re stuck.) If just one grain of the work crew’s sand zips through your window, I’m convinced it will drill into your eyeball. While this hurts, it gets worse when, scrabbling at your eye, you drive into a retaining ditch or a pile of … you guessed it … sand. I’ve learned to expect this sort of behavior from sand, by observing it at the beach, when kids are around.
Let’s venture further. The sun. Is it me, or does the sun seem a little meaner here? Most places, you can get away with standing in the sun for a little bit. Not here. Five minutes of direct sun, and you’ll find your sunburned skin bubbling up like, well, like some form of saline bubble-wrap. Sadly, not as fun as bubble-wrap.
What about foot fungus, or scratch that, fungi? I’m not sure how anyone around here has feet that aren’t beginning to rot off their bodies. Central Florida provides the ideal environment not only for bacteria and moisture to meet, but to exchange numbers, go to a movie, get married and have babies. I’ve seen this, on my feet. Apparently, I’m supposed to air out my feet to pour cold water on all this bacterial romance. But how, pray, am I going to do that? Am I supposed to unveil my two hideous advertisements for “tough actin’ Tinactin” and bare them to the world?
And if this is the case for my feet, I shudder to think what other devilish schemes Floridian Fungi are planning for me as I age. As my immune system declines, I suspect there’s a veritable menagerie of Fungi just itching to enter my body. Maybe I’ll try not to breathe.
Looming buzzards, ubiquitous sand, bacterial invaders … you’re probably thinking, “These are only minor inconveniences, they hardly comprise a case that Central Florida is inhospitable.” Ah, but I’ve not yet mentioned the real dangers.
I’ve seen the Jurassic eyes staring at me from ponds, waterways and, occasionally, the sidewalk. Just when I thought I was used to these “real dangers,” a groundsman told me to be aware of rattlesnakes. Yes, rattlesnakes. He said the most venomous ones are babies. I agree that in general babies are more of a pain, but really? Baby snakes are more deadly? Yes, he said, we must be aware of the baby albino rattlesnakes, for they shalt leap upon thee.
While my prose just got biblical, I wasn’t going to take this inhospitable environment up with God until I thought about “yellow flies.” I’m not sure what they’re actually called. Maybe Deer Flies (I’m not too lazy to look them up, just too scared)? Yes, mosquitos are bad, and we humans have a right to complain about them. Many shall query the Father on that day about such a creation. But, have you been bitten by a yellow fly? I’d rather swallow mouthfuls of mosquitoes than get bit by one of those guys. If you’ve been bitten, my most sincere condolences. Hopefully, they were able to save your limb.
I could go on about lightning, hurricanes, faulty AC units, and the occasional palm frond to the eye, but I’m depressing myself. I thought writing was supposed to be therapeutic, but this just makes me want to call Mom and tell her to find Binky the Blanket. I’m coming home. She lives far away from this Floridian sun-drenched, waking nightmare. Occasionally, I wonder when the wildlife will take back this sand-pile of doom we call home.
However, as homes go, I’ll take it. And if you’re reading this on paper, you’ve already surfed the heat wave of your driveway, that fireless inferno of hellish hotness. So, be kind to yourself today, give yourself a pat on your sweaty back, and thank your maker that you live on a plot that hasn’t yet been swallowed by a massive sinkhole.
Philip writes for Cru, a nonprofit organization located on Moss Park Road, close enough to the 7-Eleven off of Narcoossee to justify ditching work for a Slurpee. While he thinks he’s funny, he wisely never verbalizes his musings to his two ever-increasingly hostile pre-teens. His brain doesn’t seem to do the heavy lifting in the writing process – his sweaty fingers do. So, if you laugh, snort, chortle or guffaw, they deserve the credit … both of them.