Hey all! I took a few days off to get my head together, but it’s time to jump right back into the blogging fire and have a few belly laughs.
I’ve been living in Georgia for almost three years now (and fully intend to spend the rest of my life here, by the way), but it’s time for me to get something out there for all my Georgia-proud friends; I am Floridian at heart. While I know y’all won’t try to change that, there are some very unique qualities a Floridian brings to the party, and here are 11 random qualities, in no particular order, a Floridian such as myself possesses which can add a serious splash of color to anyone’s life.
- We GET heat.
When I hear my Georgia friends whine and bitch about a heat wave, I give them a quizzical look of “huh?” Seriously, there is nothing like Florida heat. It’s a peculiar combination of temperature and humidity which gives the air a distinct feel and flavor. Here’s proof; the next time you travel to Florida and are outside in the morning, take a very deep breath and pay close attention to what you sense. You will taste the air, and usually it’s a bizarre cross between sweet and moldy. FYI: this also is our explanation why, in 100 degree heat with 10,000 percent humidity, Floridians STILL prefer a hot coffee over iced.
- Severe weather doesn’t faze us, not even snow. Sure, snow is a novelty which, if we get a quarter inch of it on the ground, can grind Florida to a halt faster than an ice storm in Atlanta, but the fact is, Floridians understand severe weather, we know how to react to it, and we rarely get into a tizzy over it. An F5 tornado is as devastating as a Category 5 hurricane; the only difference is the warning time. Where others pull a DEFCON-1, Zombie Apocalypse style “duck and cover” over a waterspout, our reaction is “meh,” for real. True story; a news station in Tampa had a woman on the phone and, while talking to her about the storms, there was some serious static. An F0 tornado passed right over her SUV during the call, and she wasn’t even rattled. Yes, when it comes to severe weather, Floridians are badasses – hell, we endured 4 hurricanes in 40 days in 2004. After that, anyone who went through it has the attitude of “bring it!”
- Flip flops and sandals are essential equipment in our wardrobe. Some of us have to wear socks due to skin conditions, but any self respecting Floridian has at least one pair of flip flops in their arsenal. After all, you gotta be able to kick off your footwear if you hit a beach along the gulf, the ocean or, if your in a more landlocked state, a puddle—er—pond.
- We seafood, we eat it, but only when it’s local. Yes, bad joke, but seafood is a Florida thing. We do have the longest coastline on the eastern seaboard after all (I say this because Alaskans get all butthurt over the “longest coastline in America” thing). We know our grouper, orange roughy, stone crab, oysters, and shrimp. Florida grouper doesn’t taste the same as something you catch in say, oh, China! Gulf shrimp is way sweeter than anything that Vietnam can throw our way, and there is nothing on this planet like stone crab! And that’s just scratching the surface. You have marlin, mullet, etc. Florida is a fisherman’s paradise, and when the catch is fresh, it’s worth the effort!
- We cook out anytime, anyplace, in any weather. Christmas Day cookouts, New Years day parties, driving rainstorms, hurricanes and grilling in freezing temps? Yes, if it’s snowing and you see someone in flip flops manning the grill with a beer in one hand and tongs in another flipping steaks, fish, ribs, etc. with enough flames flaring to warm a small town, that’s likely someone from Florida. When we had an ice storm hit Atlanta, I broke out my grill, and cooked burgers! Yes, it’s that important! Oh, memo to my Georgia friends – I’ll have my grill running during all power outages. Just sayin’!
- Finding a really good mom-n-pop place is like finding a gold nugget. Floridians are accustomed to the “Generica” line of restaurants. You know what I’m talking about; casual chain joints with little-to-no local appeal, a one-size-fits-all menu, and overpriced, underdeveloped offerings. When we find a local eatery, wherever it is, and it’s good, you can bet we will patronize it again and again…unless it’s Greek. We are so tired of Greek food (except Gyros)!
- We get a little confused when highways are not laid out like a grid. Okay, this is mainly a nitpick, but Florida highways are laid out in a very simplistic fashion similar to the US Highway and Interstate system. We like it that way, it’s easy to navigate, and it definitely helps with GPS systems. You go to a state like Georgia, where everything is based on trails and paths, and suddenly you’re having to learn a whole new language. This is the main reason Floridians drive folks from other states nuts. Sorry, but that’s how it is.
- There is no rhyme or reason to our political ideology. A conservative Floridian just as likely to be an environmentalist as a liberal Floridian is to bitch about high taxes. When you live in Florida for any length of time, certain causes and ideologies become the product of watching injustice, corruption and disregard for citizenry by both sides. Tallahassee is known more as a college town than as a place where the work of the people get done, and that’s saying something. There’s a reason elections in Florida are won along the infamous “I-4 Corridor,” Tampa and Orlando change political affiliations the way most people change their socks.
- Everyone outside South Florida hates South Florida. It’s not a political thing, to be honest. It’s the fact that South Florida has the highest per capita concentration of obnoxious people outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan (sorry, but Wolverine fans take the top of heap there, following closely thereafter by Georgia Bulldog fans.) This is the direct byproduct of Palm Beach County being home to an ultra-high concentration of really out-of-touch rich folks who have decided to use their social security payouts, which they railed against having to pay into, to fund some discretionary spending on their car, boat, home, prostitute, etc. Oh, Naples is the same way, they just aren’t quite as in-your-face about it, but they’re getting there. Indirectly, it is also the byproduct of the fact that South Beach has some of the most gorgeous people on earth loving to tan there (including a longtime friend of mine from junior high – hat tip to ya, D.A.!) If you expect to ever see me on South Beach in anything but a t-shirt and shorts, I’ve got a quantum singularity to sell ya.
- Tampa Bay residents understand the whole “it’s a body of water, you idiot” thing that Tampa and St. Petersburg residents whine about. Honestly, we just don’t care because we’re fucking tired of it! Enough, already! Just combine the damned cities, rename them, tell St. Petersburg residents to get a grip, Tampa residents (particularly south Tampa) to go back to getting drunk and stoned, and everyone will be happy!
- Pasco County will always be weird. It could be clean and sober as a judge, and have zero crime, and have a ton of 1950s style bedroom communities with two car garages and the most perfect families ever. It still possesses several nudist colonies, including one which looks like something out of Hazzard County, only without Daisy Duke and with a LOT of Boss Hogg look-alikes, and a former Sheriff who once accused the local paper of conspiring to get him impeached, so yes, Pasco County remains, as Slate Magazine once dubbed it, Ground Zero for Weird. Oh, here’s the tiebreaker for that one; I graduated high school from there (Ridgewood High, Class of 92!). So if that doesn’t clinch, I don’t know what does!