Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Q. Where in the Lower 48 is Cupcake?

A. If you guessed Florida, you're right!

What am I doing in the land of retail sprawl, identical coral-colored condos and the ubiquitous early-bird special? I have no idea. No, wait, it's all coming back to me. Pop is borrowing a friend's condo for a month and he invited me to come down. His girlfriend couldn't make it, and we didn't want him to be all alone, so I agreed to come down for a few days, even though Florida is basically my idea of hell. Of course, it turns out Pop has nearly as many friends down here as he does in Rhode Island, plus, anyone I am related to who is still alive stops down here, so there is plenty of company for Pop. Sometimes I think my brother, who graciously allowed me to volunteer for this mission, is smarter than he lets on. Anyway, I and my head cold flew down to St. Myers on Saturday.

When I first arrived, we drove around looking at monster condo developments, each one sporting a vaguely European name and each one more ridiculous than the next. The residential enclaves, which run from trailer park to Country Club, are broken up only by mega-malls and strip malls boasting the same crap as back home, this time packaged in pastel colors. I felt miserable and went to bed at 8:00pm. However, the next day we got out on the water and by Monday we were on the beach and I started to realize this wasn't so bad. I went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone gets a sea shell!

We also had the opportunity for a lot of father-daughter quality time and had the following exchanges:

Cupcake: Put on some sunscreen.Pop: I don't need sunscreen.

Cupcake: You need sunscreen!
Pop: I'm Italian! Have you ever heard of an Italian getting skin cancer?
Cupcake: You've already had one melanoma!
Pop: That was a fluke!

On the terrace, overlooking the green on the 2nd hole of the golf course

Cupcake: That fountain is very noisy.

Pop: It's relaxing! It's like being in a jungle listening to a waterfall. You've got some nerve! You live in that filthy city. How quiet is it in your neighborhood? How many sirens have you heard since you've been down here? How many gunshots?
Cupcake: Meh.

Cupcake: I'm not used to riding in cars anymore. I'm getting car sick.

Pop: You don't think you'd like to have a car again someday?
Cupcake: Not while I live in New York.
Pop: You're never going to leave that city!
Cupcake: Of course I will. I won't stay in New York forever.
Pop: Look! You're in paradise and you hate it! You're a New Yorker now! You actually miss that hell hole!
Cupcake: I liked the beach.

The problem is, Florida, feeling my psyche wavering, now will not let me leave. I was supposed to fly back to New York tonight, but my flight was canceled because aparently it is snowing in New York. It hasn't snowed all goddamn winter, but now there's ice, and Jet Blue won't go. Come on, Jet Blue! All the time I've spent defending you and now you're going to strand me in Snowbird Central? A bunch of sunburnt New Yorkers jonesing for the pollution of home were thrown into a panic, and the next flight home I could get was Wednesday afternoon. Then, to compensate me for this inconvenience, Jet Blue lost my bag. I called my father who was having a pleasant dinner with friends and he suggested I take a cab back to his condo, but I couldn't go anywhere until my bag turned up. My father says people in Florida are so friendly, and you know, they were very friendly as they told me, no, there were no flights to New York tonight; no, I couldn't get a voucher for a cab; no, they couldn't find my bag. I returned the favor of this kindness by not biting their faces off, even though that is what I really wanted to do.

Finally, I found my own bag and got in a cab. We drove back to the country club in the rain, and miraculously I navagated around to our row of identical townhouses. Pop had given me the code to the garage door opener so I could let myself in. I pressed the numbers and hit enter. Nothing happened. I looked at the number on the unit again. The rain picked up. I entered the code again. The keypad flashed, but the door did not open. I began to curse the whole of Florida, from Katherine Harris to Tallahasse. I took a step back, dragging my bag behind me. The number on the building was all shadowy, I realized I was at the wrong building and was grateful some senior cop in a golf cart hadn't hauled me off to wait for my family in the shackles at the guard house. I grabbed by bag and walked down the non-existent sidewalk in the rain until I came to the right building. I called for a pox on Jet Blue, the TSA and Jeb Bush. Finally I let myself in to an empty, luxury condo.

I'm annoyed I have to use another precious vacation day. I guess this incident could be redeemed if I can manage to win some money at the dog track tomorrow before leaving this farcical excuse for a state.


Joshua said...

Granted, Florida is pretty awful. But considering how cold and gross it was here the last few days, it does have its perks.

Yes, no culture. But it's warm, they have nice seas, pelicans, flamingos, alligators, seafood etc. It has its perks. They also sell wine at drug stores!

nicole said...

I agree Florida is hell....and I, unfortunately live here :) However, beneath the multitude of peach colored buildings, alligators (although I've only seen one in the 3 years i've lived here), strip malls, empty condo developments and rush hour traffic that lasts from 3pm-7:30pm there are, occassionally, a few upsides. although I cant think of any right now....oh wait, I got one....no snow. but that of course is replaced with the 6 month hurricane season....oh the joy of living in miami.