Florida, You Won Me Over

Well, its that time of year again, when I migrate south to Florida.  A couple of years ago, this kind of peculiar Christmas tradition started with my family.  We spend a super nice Christmas in frozen Massachusetts eating yummy Christmas salad and opening presents.  Then we board a plane to sunny Florida.

We spend time in this area called Clearwater and visit Tampa, St. Petersburg and other such areas.

Going back, I’ve had an extremely complicated relationship with Florida.  When I was 15, Florida took my high school boyfriend.  I mean it didn’t really take him.  He called me on a Tuesday to tell me that Friday of that week, he’d be moving to Florida.  I blamed Florida for stealing him, but in retrospect, really it could have him.  It wasn’t meant to be!!!  Everything happens for a reason!!!!  Nah, it was a teenage romance and it was meant to end.  Florida just seemed a convenient place to blame for it ending as all.

Even before that though, I had no great love of Florida.  Every single little kid dreams of the day when they will visit the land or world of a weirdly cheerful mouse.  Well, almost every kid.  Because this kid, visited the land of said mouse in California.  Yes, I went to Disneyland at the age of about six and I knew something was amiss with the place immediately.  Nobody told me that Goofy was absolutely terrifying, so terrifying in fact that I had to hold my mom’s hand when I met him.  Also, when I went on one of the rides, I saw my mom take her glasses off and look generally unhappy, so I figured Disney and all that comes with it was something that upset my mom.

Fast forward a few years.  I mean I could get political up here about how Florida gave us Bush the younger and all of the crazy things that come out of Florida, but that would be too obvious.

I came to Florida for the first time in 2008, to an extremely pleasant area called Marco Island.  Then I returned to Orlando a few months later and now for these visits to the Clearwater/Tampa area and I have to say — this place has grown on me.  I feel like Florida is a new friend.  Let’s say the cities I’ve lived in are my friends.  Boston is my absolute best friend, who loves me unconditionally and wants nothing but good things for me.  New York is my friend that wears dark turtlenecks and abhors the downfall of society to consumerist tendencies but secretly loves to listen to pop music.  Washington DC and I are fremenies at best.  Copenhagen is my unattainably cool friend with all of the latest gadgets and gear and the one who is already over the trends before I even get to them.

But Florida (I know, not a city) is my hilariously inappropriate friend.  OMG, everyone has one of those!!!!  That friend that not only owns a t-shirt tux, but enthusiastically wears that item of clothing.  That friend that says all sorts of ridiculously inappropriate things but also has a good heart.  That friend who might laugh until they pee.  That friend.  That friend that we all need and ultimately we love.

So here’s to my funny inappropriate friend Florida.  Love.  Here’s a little compendium of all the weird things I’ve seen in the three days I’ve been here.

First, a center for the jerks:

tarpon-springs-jamaican-resturant-jerk-center

A typical Florida outfit.  I’m Michael Kors here.  I mean where is she (or he) wearing this?? Floridians, feel free to write in with an answer, any answer:

clearwater-baracuda-shirts

Funny surfing related tchotchkes, of course:

clearwater-surf-shop-surfers

A merry octopus Christmas to you all and to all, a good night:

dunedin-downtown-octopus-christmas-decoration

A stick figure is here with your pizza:

dunedin-pizza-sign

Shirt and shoes required.  Other things, not so much:

dunedin-funny-sign

Oh where oh where can I buy ANY ice cream around here?????  I’m so confused.  It was around here somewhere.  I swear I saw it:

florida-on-the-road-twistee-treat

Now this next sign, I mean I guess whatever happens in the nature preserve stays in the nature preserve:

lake-maggiore-florida-nature-preserve-do-not-molest-alligators-sign

A most absolutely insanely ridiculous brochure.  I mean ridiculously useful I guess.  Also, let me add, ridiculously Florida:

lake-maggiore-florida-nature-preserve-brochure-minimizing-contact-with-poisonous-snakes

Oh and not to mention what you are supposed to do if you encounter the non-venomous variety.  In my case, run away.  FAR FAR FAR FAR away, but Florida has other opinions on that matter too:

lake-maggiore-florida-nature-preserve-trees-do-not-harm-indigo-snake

But what am I going to wash my hands with after I touch the Eastern Indigo Snake?

sarasota-siesta-key-alligator-soaps

There are a ridiculous amount of personal injury lawyers around here.  I have nothing else to say about that other than the fact that it is strange.  It is also interesting that the personal injury lawyer ads are always next to ads for plastic surgery.  Interesting:

tampa-ybor-city-lawyers-advertisement

Well, that’s all for now.  There will be more.  Much, much, much more…

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