Is That North Of Miami?

January 21, 2009 at 1:39 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  In Florida, Alligators are a protected species, but if you hit one with your car you can eat it.

  So…we went to Floridia.
  I’ve never been before, you know.  I have traveled, and I’ve been as far as North Georgia.  So, I was a little excited.  But, I’ve also read alot of Carl Hiassen and Tim Dorsey (I highly recommend Tim Dorsey–start at the beginning, read them in order.  Start with "Florida Roadkill."), so I was a little apprehensive about it.  From what I have read, Florida is filled with drug dealers, killers, briefcases full of cash, a variety of swindlers, and the Elderly.
  I only witnessed the latter.
  Being a fan of both Miami Vice and Burn Notice, I expected to see throngs of bikini-clad hot young chicks.  Nada.  Hell, I didn’t even see Bruce Campbell.  Popular media and fiction is just a big lie.  I bet Maine doesn’t have all the supernatural stuff going on that Stephen King writes about, either.
  It was 5 degrees in STL when we left, and we brought a bit of the cold with us.  Traveling through Kentucky and Tennessee it was still in the teens and twenties.  Going through most of Georgia it was in the thirties.  We rolled in to Mid-Floridia about 10 pm, and it was 50 degrees.  For the typical Florilander, that’s some cold shit.
  It was funny to see all the old people up early in the morning, on their bikes or golf carts or scooters or other bizarre Dr Seuss-like contraptions going about their business bundled up like it was Michigan.  It remained in the fifties for the most part during the day, so other than a few palm trees I had no real proof I was in Floridia.  It did warm up enough that on Saturday we drove to the Gulf coast to see the water.  I walked in the water bare-footed (cold) and we watched the sea gulls and Pteradactyls (they looked like them, whatever they were).  I picked up some sea shells.  She sells sea shells.  By the sea shore.  Because she’s a whore.
  Detroit’s mom lives in a little trailer/mobile home thing in a retirement community.  You must be 55 or older to ride this ride.  Hers is kind of older and dumpy–it needs work.  Almost all of them have a screened-in attached porch, or "Florida Room."  (I wonder, if we added one to our house, would it be a "Missoura Room"?)
  Her family arrived in a trickle, so I was able to meet them and process them and remember them much better.  We first got there it was her mom, Bonnie.  I like Detroit’s mom; she’s nice.  I see where Detroit gets alot of her attitude.  Spunk.
  Her mom’s brother Don and his girlfriend Ginny stopped by, but I didn’t meet them until later.  Detroit and I stayed spent the night at Sherri’s.  She is the widow of Bonnie’s brother Tom, who passed away right before Thanksgiving.  Sherri is nice.  Her trailer is real nice–so nice that when we arrived at night I had no idea it was a trailer.  It was very new and very clean–I get the impression that Sherri has to keep moving and keep busy, otherwise she will think too much.  She stays up late until she is too tired, then goes to sleep at one or two AM.  Then she wakes up early, like 7 AM.
  She was very helpful to Bonnie, but she never came over when there was alot of people there.  She seems to be reclusive that way, or she would just rather deal with people one or two at a time.  It occurs to me that I’m like that too–I just can’t enforce it.  Occasionally I get stuck dealing with a large group of people…like driving in a van with four other people to Floridia, for example.
  Friday night eventually Detroit’s Aunt Audrey showed up, driven by her son Rich and bringing with them Detroit’s brother Chuck.  Aunt Audrey was a hoot, and immediately she and Alex started to give each other crap.
  Rich was a good guy, too.  Funny.  At first I thought he was a little over-bearing–and then I thought I might come off that way sometimes also.  And then of course Chuck.  Chuck’s favorite pastime is to continually tease Brandon and Margret.  Eventually Margaret has a blow up, because she has a short fuse and Chuck knows which buttons to push.  I like Chuck, but he has some damn quirky ways about him.  I’d like to pull him aside, sit him down, and teach him how a man shakes hands.  Plus, like most people, he has the wrong opinion about politics and how the world works.
  The difference is, he shares them with everyone.
  Alex and I got to spend some time together, and talk about stuff.  We took a few rides in the club car together around the complex.  Sometimes that was the only time you could get a break from the crowd–I understood Sherri’s feelings.  Saturday we went to the Gulf, and when we came back, Detroit’s Aunt Sharon and Uncle Larry had arrived.
  We had met Sharon (and Aunt Darlene, all Bonnie’s sisters) in Bay City back in 07 when we brought Margaret down.  These three women, all sitting and talking, I could see the history of Detroit’s family.  They talked about their mother–Detroit’s grandma–and how she was a master bullshitter.  Things were becoming more clear to me now.
  Although–and no one knows except Detroit–I got one over on Aunt Audrey pretty bad.  We discussed the drive, and driving.  One of my standard lines:  "Well, I am a professional driver–"
  Aunt Audrey said, "Oh, really?  What have you done?"
  With a straight face I replied, "I drove steam-roller for construction building roads, and a dump truck cross-country delivering custom rock, and I was a courier for a company that delivered organs for transplant.  I still have the little cooler."
  She said, "Oh, that’s neat."  I nodded, then had to turn away to make her turn away.
  Master bullshitter, indeed.
  Uncle Larry, an apparent veteran of these gab-fests, sat quietly in the corner, nodded and smiled, and said very little, but paid attention–surely anything said in your presence can and will be held against you later.
  I like Detroit’s family–except her sister, whom I tolerate–and I can tell they like me.  They readily accept me, much as my family did her.  It’s times like these that the differences between this and my previous life are more obvious.  The Storm’s family, to be blunt, are a bunch of stuck-up, snooty, holier-than-thou assholes.
  And no fucking sense of humor, either.  You know, it may not be a coincidence that at many family gatherings in the past, I would sit on the couch, throw my head back, and sleep until my snoring woke me up. 
  I had a sense of sadness for Detroit–not having the group of sisters that can sit and gab and be this close like her mom and aunts are.  It seems like something she needs.

  While we were there, Detroit proposed the idea–and I agreed–of her mom coming to live with us.  Her husband, Don, had taken care of her so much that she seemed helpless now.  I’m sure she could learn to cope and gain independence, so she would be okay except for one thing:  her health.  She has diabetes, they both have a history of frequent hospital visits, and she has fallen a few times and has a problem getting up.  That’s worrisome. 
  Right now, in the winter, the park is full of Snowbirds–old people from up north who come to Florida for the winter.  But come spring, this whole end of the park where she lives is going to be deserted.
  I immediately said of course she can come and stay with us.  However, I did hold some reservations, but they were all about Detroit.  She was going to have to give up her den–but she had thought of that already, putting it in the basement.  A minor inconvenience, but ultimately it may work out better.  The other thing–
  Well, you KNOW how well Detroit gets along with other women.  My sister.  Her sister.  She’s made it clear that if I ever have more than one wife, she’s going to be difficult about it.  She is just completely unreasonable…
  She said this would be different, this is her mom.  Ok*-ay-*
  I joked, asking–is Chuck going to move in with us too?  We have everyone else in her family here.  But really, it would be good for Bonnie as well as good for Detroit and her kids, who are Bonnie’s only grandkids.  I know that people up and move away all the time, but honestly, I’d rather be near family.  That’s why I didn’t hesitate for Detroit’s mom to live with us.  Family.  And that’s the only reason I wouldn’t want to move to Floridia, or Georgia, or Alabamia.
  Besides, Alabamia has no paved roads.  All dirt.  Honest.  Oh, and the interstate?  Gravel.

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