Seven 7hings: About Visiting Florida

Given my somewhat scathing critique of Houston, it only seems fair that I turn the Light of Truth on my current home state, Florida.

You really need to know these Seven 7hings before you come visit.

1.  The News:  Residents of Florida know all too well how many notorious weirdos from Florida have made the news.  We’ve made national front pages with Ted Bundy, Aileen Wuornos, Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman, and Rudy Eugene (the dude who ate another dude’s face off), among other notables.

2.  Thanks a lot, Rest of America:  Since nearly two-thirds (65%) of Florida’s residents were born in another state, we’re not taking full blame for the knuckleheads in 7hing number 1.  In fact, the names and birthplaces of some of the principles of Florida’s more infamous news stories:
  • Aileen Wuornos: Rochester, MI
  • Ted Bundy:  Burlington, VT
  • Casey Anthony:  Warren, OH
  • George Zimmerman:  Manassas, VA
  • Rudy Eugene:  Miami, FL

OK…we’ll own Rudy Eugene but the rest of them are on y’all.

3.  Old People:  I’m sure you’ve heard the rumor that Florida is filled with old blue-haired ladies and knob-kneed old coots blocking the left lane.

OK…this one is true.  More than 4.5 million Floridians – nearly 24% of the population – are aged 60 and older.  So get comfortable behind them in the left lane.  You’re gonna be there a while.

4.  Florida Writers:  What?  You thought all great writing came from New York?  Au contraire, mon petit audience.  Ever hear of a fella named of Ernest “Papa” Hemingway?  Won a little award called the Nobel?  Lived in Key West for about ten years.
Oh, you didn't know?  Maine’s favorite son now winters on Casey Key in Osprey, Florida, near Sarasota.

Suck that, New York.  And Maine.

5.  It is, indeed, a Small World After All:  In 2012, more than 56 million visitors came to Orlando, the most visitors ever to a single US city in a single year.  At any point during the year, at least half of them were on I-4 between Celebration and Altamonte Springs.

Many of these visitors were from foreign countries, most of them here to visit WaltDisneyworld.  All of these people left humming “It’s a Small World After All” on every flight I took from the Orlando Airport.  Thanks, Mickey.

6.  Critters:  Florida has a reputation for having some of the most bizarre and violent creatures in the United States.  Most people are fully aware of the alligators, snakes, Florida panther, and “palmetto bugs” (which are, in actuality, gigantic man-eating cockroaches with prehensile tails, werewolfian fangs, and can fly at speeds approaching mach 6).

Perhaps less familiar is the Capybara, a 100-pound guinea pig imported to Florida by the senior population to team with the palmetto werewolves to kill everyone under the age of 60. Or at least those who don’t die from being stuck in the left lane behind Sister Blue Hair and the Knock Knees Monster.

7.  Weather:  It is hot in Florida.  Hot and humid.  Oppressively hot and humid.  A co-worker of mine is from Africa and he complains about the weather.

But that’s not the worst part. Florida also has hurricanes. This is a picture of Navarre Beach about 10 hours before the worst of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. These steps are normally 30-50 feet (depending on tide) from the water’s edge. Ivan moved the entire Gulf of Mexico.

The Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival is held the third weekend every October in Niceville, Florida.  The centerpiece of the festival is mullet, the fish, and not mullet, the fashion statement of John Stamos and Michael Bolton, circa 1987.



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