While I’m waiting for my legs, from the knees down, to atrophy, rot and fall off I thought I would give you a little update on our Florida weekend. We bought this tiny winter house down here in the historic district of St. Petersburg, right next to the Bay and we’re down here now for a few days of business and pleasure. You can tell from the title of this post that my pleasure is muted by the fact that I do not hold Florida in high regard as a place to live. Earlier in the week I referred to it as the armpit of the nation but FG corrected me and said that everyone (but me) knew that the armpit of the nation was New Jersey. I did my geographic re-calculations and figured out that this must make Florida the crotch of the nation- hot and humid. That being said, our little arts and crafts bungalow is very sweet, on a shady street overhung with mature oaks and brick pavers on the road.
For the last couple days we’ve just been lounging around at the house as we both unwind from heavy work schedules and business travel. We’ve been reading books, working picture puzzles, going downtown to movies. Taking a lot of naps. Today we decided to take a drive the 10 miles over to the Gulf of Mexico, have a nice lunch and splash around.
The biggest, oldest, fanciest resort on St. Petersburg Beach is the Don Ce&ar. Don’t ask me why they have the S all hinky like that but that’s what it’s called: The Don Ce&ar. Also known as The Pink Palace. This gem, now owned by the Lowe’s Hotel chain is a huge deco pink affair smack on the white sand beach of the Gulf. Very, very nice.
We’ve been slumming all weekend at Tortilla Flats so we decided to see if this would be a sort of nice luncheon opportunity. I knew we were in trouble when the guy in the parking lot booth said “20.00, please.” WTF? FG said something like that, minus the swearing and the guy said, well, if you eat lunch they’ll stamp your card. Okay. But, FG, I said, “I’m not exactly dressed to eat here. I left my St. John’s resort wear at home…” This was a joke since I’m shopping challenged and a comfort creature so I was wearing my standard quick dry sports shorts and a tee-shirt. And a really stupid sun hat.
At that point we turned it into one of those outings where, because you’re feeling down a notch or two, you adapt by making fun of everyone else. I often enjoy these kind of outings. We are semi-quick witted, in a dumb sort of way, so we amuse each other, not to mention ourselves, easily. We eased into this patter- “uh-huh, nice comb over, very nice.” “Oops. Botox at 84, bad idea.” as we were seated in a dining room where I had way too much, way too pale leg exposed. We were minding our business entertaining ourselves when all of a sudden the couple next to us were our new very best friends. Really. I have no idea how this happened. One minute this woman, with a heavy British accent, was coveting our bread basket and announcing loudly that their “stupid French waitress” hadn’t brought them any bread. The next minute, no second, we knew the following: They were real estate agents for a living but really they had so much money they didn’t need to work. They owned property in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Arizona and they had just bought a little “tear down” on Boca Ciega Bay and spent two years rebuilding but wasn’t “it a pisser, darling, that we’re now on evacuation route A in case of a hurricane?” We knew that they had lost 100,000. because they have the “tenants from Hell” destroying one of their Las Vegas properties, with all the gory details. They had been married nine years…
All this and we didn’t have to utter a single word. Then the question I was dreading: “and what about you guys? You live down here?” (Why yes, can’t you tell by my pasty white Irish pallor? Note the legs…) Anyway, you’re sort of obligated to divulge something to people who have so totally and suddenly befriended you so FG volunteered that we had recently bought a little bungalow over in the old downtown area.
I don’t know whether he wasn’t paying attention when they said where they built their new home or whether he was lost in describing our little place but I had to kick him twice, hard, under the table to get him to stop comparing the charm of our quaint neighborhood to the “ugly, hot, over built houses on the crowded intra-coastal.” He did one of those “hey! what? OH!” things at me but our best friends didn’t even notice. They asked if we had children and we did the cute bit about, yes, his two, my two, our four and then it seemed only polite to ask “and you?” although I was regretting it even as FG opened his mouth. Oh, dear. He had four and she had none (puleeeze, don’t tell me why) but really they both had none because his had disowned him when he married her and now, although they had tried this and that and just last week and so on. I was trying to slide out of the bench seat as FG said, “that’s too bad” and for good measure “it’s their loss, really…” I looked at him like he was nuts, inviting more of this insane conversation but they didn’t notice the look and she shrieked, “It is! It IS their loss! They are getting none of the money his father left them! That’s all staying with us!” and then she turned to rip on the French waitress some more.
We finally extricated ourselves from the dining room at Don Ce&ars and went out to walk along the beach. It’s so hot out that everyone on the beach was doing that Chevy Chase hot sand dance so we scooted down to the water quick time and just as I was commenting that the water was incredibly warm I noticed that not a single other human was in the Gulf. Not as far as the eye could see. No one. Nada. Just us. And then I looked down.
At first glance it looked as though we were standing in a field of floating condoms but on closer inspection these were all dead fish, gone transparent. I looked at FG and he looked at me and we backed ourselves out of the water. There on the beach two young boys had a water-filled hole with a bloated puffer fish and a large eel floating in it. They were writing in the sand: STOP AND SEE THE DEAD PUFFER FISH AND EEL.
A woman on the beach told us it was Red Tide . This is the algae bloom that used to come once every couple years, but now, thanks to us (yes, you and me) and our total lack of concern for creation, it comes a few times a year. So what used to be a healthy recycling of nature has become an out of balance eco system that has me sitting here waiting for my legs to atrophy, rot and fall off.
It was a lovely outing. On the way home we muttered hotly about all the streets being a tangle of Boca Del Mars and Vista Bocas and Del Mar Vistas and Boca Vista Mars and at one point we were totally lost at the corner of Mar and Del. Along the way FG said, in grumpy fashion, “Why bother landscaping if you live on a street this ugly” and I grumped back, “This is not landscaping. This is filing your entire lot with some kind of rock that looks like Gravy Train Chunks.” I think necrosis is setting in so I’m going to go shower again. Cheers, from the Sunshine Crotch.