Warning: This post contains many hyperlinks to news articles so that you can confirm the crazy. There were so many to choose from that I may have gone overboard. Just roll with it and enjoy the batshit that is my local community.
It tends to begin with this…
“Where are you from?”
“No, where are you from originally?”
“Like I said, Florida. Born and raised!”
“Oh. Weird, no one is really ever from here. You guys are all crazy.”
That’s a little excerpt from a conversation I have had many, many times with a new acquaintance or guest at my facility. I can’t say I blame them, our little state and its colorful residents have been in the news quite a bit over the years. Floridians have unique and original methods of communicating and violating the law. Florida is a melting pot of diverse ecosystems, politics, age demographics, food that will make you praise the Lord, politics, and (my favorite) stupid criminals. We work hard, we play harder, and we will straight up ride a lawn mower down the road to our local gas station to avoid DUI’s (it doesn’t work because you can still get a DUI).
Florida. Why you gotta be so crazy?
First off, let’s set up the visuals if you are not familiar with the true Florida landscape. I am proud “Flo-Grown”, born and raised right on the imaginary border between North and Central FL. Typically, when people envision what my backyard looks like it is much different than the reality. They think palm trees, beaches, flamingos, sunsets, and margaritas.
In reality it’s freshwater lakes, scrub pines, sandhill cranes, and Busch beer in a can (don’t drink it if the mountains are blue). And you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.
True Floridians are all naturalists at heart. Even if you find a good ‘ol boy (or girl) who didn’t graduate from high school they can still track game like a bloodhound, tell you the circadian rhythms of local fauna, identify native and invasive plants, “learn you” about navigating gator mating season, and distinguish dozens of different chirps and vocalizations of local birds, reptiles, and insects. We grew up surrounded by nature and the vast majority of us have a great respect for it, even if we make poor choices as how to interact with it sometimes.
This is especially true with dangerous local wildlife.
Not only do we love wildlife, we love food and cocktails. I know, so do you. However, Florida’s awesome climate has attracted people from all demographics and nationalities; along with them they brought their cuisines. We attack our vittles with the gusto of the Kool-Aid man busting through a brick wall and God help you if you get in our way. We abnormally love to eat and drink and that goes double for our fast food.
We also celebrate the weirdest things. Hurricane coming? Batten down the hatches, stock up on propane and liquor and get drunk STAT. Key West tried to secede from the USA in the 80’s and mockingly declared war (true story). Better throw a 10 day festival every year to celebrate! We honor corn and strawberries here in Central FL every year with our own version of a World’s Fair, complete with the holy trinity; Beer, Bands, and Boobs.
Like I said, we love food and we love to eat. It brings out our competitive spirit. But, sometimes it goes off the rails.
We can also break the laws in ways that you could never dream up in your most psychotic episodes. You were in a fist fight? Amateurs. We will knife you for putting onions in the potato salad, after we set fire to your lawn for forgetting to say, “God Bless You” when we sneeze. Then, we are sorry. Having the cops show up tends to make you sorry.
Look, we are passionate but we can be endearingly philanthropic as well.
We also tend to suck at lying when we are in trouble. We don’t usually have the best excuses to explain our whereabouts, why there is cocaine in our buttocks, or how the prostitute ended up with our elderly father on his birthday. We have the worst poker faces on the planet, maybe that is why we have resisted casinos here for so long.
Hey, if worse comes to worst… blame it on the cat.
Floridians can also be reverent, spiritual, and blame just about anything on Jesus. I was at the local DMV several years ago getting my license renewed, just a couple of weeks after a massive explosion at the local propane facility. My town hadn’t seen that much excitement in years. As I chatted with the clerk (she only lived a couple of miles away from the explosion) she heralded me with her experiences.
“I swear to Jesus (crosses herself) I thought it was the rapture. The preacher had just been talkin’ about the rapture this past Sunday and I thought, “Yup, that’s it!”. So, I hid the grandbaby in the closet and peeked outside. When I didn’t see any souls risin’ up, I figured it had to be somethin’ else. Come to find out, the Blue Rhino plant done blew up.”
Bless her. And bless the gentleman that thought LensCrafters was the appropriate final resting place for his love’s ashes.
True Crackers (an individual born in FL and I will touch on that another time) also hate to be boring when it comes to our weapon(s) of choice. A gun? So boring, unless we are accidentally shooting ourselves with it. We stock up on the samurai swords, nunchucks, old 2 x 4’s (lumber), pinecones, butter and spaghetti. If we can pick it up, it’s a weapon.
And, we bite. A lot. You’ve been warned.
So, that’s just a peek into our crazy. There is plenty more but at the end of the day, I love it here. And, you will too (don’t act like you don’t plan to retire here).
1.) Don’t touch our food or try to get us to share unless we offer.
2.) Don’t turn off Rihanna without permission.
3.) The cops will never believe the Boogeyman was drunk driving, not you.
4.) You absolutely CAN be arrested for DUI on a bike, roller skates, or lawn mower.
and 5.) We bite.
Until next time, ya’ll! Hugs and Fishes!