I’m pursuing a very traditional Maine pastime today: I’m visiting Florida. Specifically, I’m here for the annual Broward County Library Foundation Literary Feast. And while I came for work, when my plane touched down in Fort Lauderdale and the pilot announced the temperature outside was 85 degrees, I reacted as any Mainer who had escaped ten inches of snow and an incipient ice storm: I threw up my arms and said, “Yes!”
Well, not really, But I THOUGHT it.
Maine is the land of the snowbirds. Our seniors, having finally seen the fledgelings fly away and having accumulated enough of a nest egg, migrate south in the late fall. They spend the winter getting tan on golf courses and chortling evilly while watching The Weather Channel. When the heat and humidity index rises higher than their ages, they wing their way back north, where they spend the summer months regaling their neighbors on the crazy things those people in Florida get up to. Herewith, the stages of a Mainer’s relationship to Florida:
5 to 15: Disney World!!! Awesome!! watch?v=xDzQ5sI_9F0&t=1m42s
18 to 24: Fly down in march, jam into a cheap hotel room with four other girls/guys. Spend days roasting on the beach, nights perfecting your beer pong technique. Work on collection of plastic 22 ounce souvenir Marguerita glasses. Throw up, return home with circles under your eyes and a hangover pallor beneath your tan.
25 to 30: Too busy having babies to go to Florida. Besides, do you know what that sun can do to an infant’s skin?
31 to 40: Disney World!!! Did they have lines like this when you were a kid? And really – $2 for a lousy bottled water? Oh well – at least you can save on the mementos with your cousin Dana’s kids’ hand-me-down Mickey Mouse toys.
41 to 55: Too busy paying for college/trade school/business start-up/first home for the kids. Besides, do you know what that sun can do to your skin? Your dermatologist already took off two basal cell thingies.
56 to 64: What is it with all those oldsters moving down to Florida? By God, you’re still tough enough to make it through a Maine winter. Shoveling snow is good for you. Tease your cousin Dana for falling for the hype and getting a condo in Sarasota. Visit him and his wife every February. Hey, it’s free.
65: Your first month-long rental in Fort Myers. Alternate between marveling at wearing shorts in January and agonizing over getting soft. And won’t you miss celebrating a white Christmas?
66: Second rental in Fort Myers. This one for six weeks. It’s not really getting soft–it’s being sensible. Think of all the heating oil you’re saving!
67: Third rental in Fort Myers. Decide you can, in fact, live without a white Christmas.
68 to The End: Enjoy your sunset years wintering in Vero Beach/Naples/St. Augustine. Yeah, the drunken kids on Spring Break are a pain in the butt, but you’ve shaved six strokes off your game, and you can always count on seeing your grandchildren when their parents bring them down to Disney World. Life is good.