Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Life in Florida has some shockers

In this photo you can see my high school  friend, Sally, who is unfortunately still beautiful, and I are heading out of her garage to go  to her country club so I can give a book talk on my memoir COMING ASHORE over dinner.

 Before I spoke I was seated next to an emergency physician.  In an effort to make conversation, I asked what are the most common emergencies in Florida. He said drunken golf cart accidents which are serious since people are old and many are on blood thinners and they bleed out when they tumble out or roll into a pond. The second most common emergency is, believe it or not, venereal disease.  He said when people move into assisted living, they have a 'randy stage' where they jump from bed to bed having unprotected sex. Wow! Back to my chicken dinner.

Well those are just two sociological nuggets from the Sunshine state.  Of course one of the glories of the state is the weather and being able to dine outside under the palms--- or so I thought. Another  Florida shocker is that no one sits outside--ever.  When I arrived from Canada I was so happy to be at my friend Sally's place. I asked if we could eat breakfast  outside since it was so beautiful in her garden. She said no for two reasons. One the sprinkling system sprays on the cushions and they are wet and the other reason is her husband does not like eating out of doors.

Then I went to another huge house in Orlando with huge gardens  and asked if we could sit near the  pool to have our drinks. She looked at me horrified and said , "No, the gardner is coming tomorrow and there are a few dry  leaves on the ground near the pool.  Sorry, Oh and I have to close the drapes or the furniture fades."

Off  I went on another day to the most exclusive spot in Sarasota in a golf community that I needed a code to get into. A grounds man drove in front of me to get to the house. ( I guess he wanted to be sure I didn't loot places on the way.) These people had a mansion and huge wrought iron porches a la Gone with the wind  on the first and second floors. I asked if we could have drinks on the porch before going to the club for the talk and she said, "Absolutely not. You could get brained by a golf ball.  It is totally unsafe out there. If you want to sit outside we have to go to the club."

I hoped to have better luck on the other coast in Florida further south. However I was told that no one goes outside. The woman said, "We had gofers or some small brown furry thing.  I had to fill in the pool."

When I got to  Boca Raton, I was staying with a woman from Buffalo so I knew she'd understand my need for some outdoor warm air. She said, "Ok, one drink, but then we are moving inside. Bugs come at dusk."  So you can see me below after my 13 stop tour of Florida where I can sit outside for five minutes only  and have my drink.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Florida Book Tour---Plane from Toronto to Orlando --Disney Express

I am on a Florida book tour publicizing my last memoir Coming Ashore. I am going to rent a car and go from Orlando  down the ocean coast past Palm Beach and Miami and then I’ll drive up the Gulf side and hit Naples and Tampa and everything in between. I’m renting a car, I”ll have GPS that says Welcome to Florida, Cathy,  (I’ve done this before). I’m taking my books in my trunk, and I’m heading out into, as my son calls Florida, God’s waiting room. There is something fun about being alone and observing a foreign culture—-and let’s face it-- Florida can be strange.  I thought I’d blog a bit along the way.

Plane From Toronto to Orlando—Disney Express
Is there anything worse than being on a plane to Orlando in spring break? It is full of disciples making a pilgrimage to Disney World.  There are parents who call each other “mom” and “dad” and who say to their gaggle of kids, “You have fifteen minutes at the window and then you have to let your sister have a turn.” Of course the boy says, “No way.” And the girl cries and then the parents argue with the wife telling the husband that he should never have given the window to the boy, etc.  They all finally give up on human interaction and rent ipads with games for each of them @$14.95 each. After that there is silence and they are not heard from again.
     Just when I thought it could not get worse, a family with a baby has just joined me. (Late arrivals.) The couple is taking their eight-month old drooling baby to Disneyworld. Why?  Is he really going to recognize Mickey Mouse as an American icon or be terrified of a gigantic mouse? They have brought a music box they continually rewind that plays ‘The wheels on the bus.’  When it is finished they start it again.
     On my other side is a middle-aged Iranian couple who are going to Disney World as adults with no kids. They want to “experience America.”  Are Goofy and Donald Duck America? I just read the first part of the American Travelogue by the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard in 'the New York Times'. He decided the best way to see America was to not talk to anyone and visit hollowed- out Detroit. That turned out to be America for him and anyone who reads his article, it will be America for them.  So these Iranians are going to go home and report on Disney world as America? I suppose it is as much America as anything else.
The woman in front of me who has a massive lung infection  is wearing Mickey Mouse ears and spitting up Dumbo sized yellow globs from her lungs into her eye shade. I guess you have to pay extra for a Kleenex on air Canada. An older man next to her said, “If you are so sick you shouldn’t travel and infect all of us.” (I was with him on this score.) She said she’d paid for Disney world and she was going if she had to be carried through the pearly gates into never-never land.
The eight year old girl across the aisle from me  has blonde hair with dark roots and is wearing a crop top, short shorts and cowboy boots. ( How did she get out of record cold temperatures in Canada in February in that get-up?) she told the ever inquisitive flight attendant that she didn’t care about the rides or the Disney figures. She just wanted to eat at the Hard Rock CafĂ© and see celebrities. There was so much wrong with the outfit, the celebrity mentality, and the delusion that famous people eat in Disney World in Orlando, I don’t even know where to begin.  Who knows? Maybe they pay people to eat there.
I’ve made  to Orlando Airport  alive and I’m at the baggage claim. Children have run amok. It is like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.  Disney acolytes have now departed from other flights. Little boys are running all over the moving baggage carousel,  surfing and screaming as they took the winding  turns. Their parents have apparently disowned them by this point because no one is taking any responsibility for them. Then large men in uniform appear and shut down the baggage carrousel by the emergency stop button and tell the parents, who now look like walking zombies, to remove their children or they won’t start up the carousel.
As I got into my compact rental car that smelled of cleaning fluid, I have never been so happy for silence and my destination in a retirement community.