So we were vacationing on the Florida panhandle last week. It’s funny how time seems to change when you move down a few latitudes and across a few longitude lines. You lose or pick up an hour, depends on how you look at it, when you cross an invisible line near western Georgia, I think. And then as you relax in the pool or on the beach, your internal clock goes silent because your ear drums relax and your vocal chords go slack. The tree frogs croak when it’s dark and mockingbirds chirp when it’s dawn. That’s all you need to know. Slow down, blog clowns.
The Deep South is just about tropical. There are a whole lot of water bodies down there– swamps, creeks, streams, puddles, rivers, ponds, lakes, lagoons, and the huge Gulf of Mexico. Naturally there’s a commensurate level of humidity, about a billion gallons per cubic mile, which makes moving in and out of air conditioning an acute experience either way. One morning I stepped out onto our third floor balcony at 7 a.m. I was engulfed in a heavy soup of moisture in that small space. Imagine if Queen Latifah had twin sisters who all mashed you into a family reunion group hug after exiting a sauna. Now take that image and cover it in melting marshmallow crème head to toe. Roll it all in a tortilla and toast it. Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about.
Kids were everywhere at the gated and very safe resort. No kidnappings were reported during our stay. I did have two interesting experiences at the pools, however. One direct and one indirect, okay I eavesdropped. While in the hot tub a father/son combo came by. The boy was talking about all drugs being bad. His father corrected him. “Son, the ones a doctor gives you are good for you.” To which his son rejoined, “Justin Bieber uses drugs, Dad, and he’s bad.” His dad chuckled and went to check on a younger child, leaving his innocent son jabbering to me in a lilting southern accent.
“Justin Bieber wears girls shoes and make up. Did you know that?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“He takes drugs to schools too.”
“I didn’t know that either.”
“He’s bad. He acts like a girl, a bad girl.”
“Well I don’t know the Beebs very well.”
“Do you like baseball?” and off he went on another tangent.
The second conversation was between a very aggressive and articulate youngish mother and her sullen preteen daughter. The tone and intensity were something you might hear in a courtroom. Mom did all the talking. Seems that the daughter had been on her phone/computer all week long, ignoring the other sullen preteen girl who was presumably a cousin or friend.
“You’ve been in front of a screen the entire time, Honey, and it’s disturbing. You don’t know how to interact without that technology. I want you to just be human, talk, ride bikes, swim. But you treat your phone like it’s your very heart. Now I know Daddy and Uncle Jim are techno nerds, and they spend all their time in front of a screen. They think it’s normal to live like this, but it’s not. They’re IT engineers, Honey. It’s slowly destroying their social skills, and I don’t want that for you. Promise me you’ll stay off the phone or I’ll take it and keep it for the rest of the week. Promise me you’ll talk with Megan. Okay? I’m so worried about you turning into a robot like your father.”
“Okay, Mom!!” And they both sulked away, back to their dysfunctionality.
Now karaoke is an okay thing to do. We decided on our last evening at the resort to attend Friday karaoke at the little bar/restaurant around the corner. It was okay, I guess. But I noticed that families with small children were eating and drinking there. It seemed weird to me that little kids shuffled about while grown up strangers drank hard liquor at the bar. At around 7 pm the dysfunctional d.j. got his gear going and began calling for the folks who had signed up to sing. It was an eclectic bunch. There was an older woman at the table next to the stage. She sang a country tune, maybe “All My Exes Live in Texas”. Then her young adult daughters eventually followed her lead. One sang Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman” while trying to look sexy. The other daughter actually did a nice job with a deeper sort of song I have forgotten. Along the way kids under ten years of age sang “Let it Go” from the Disney movie Frozen and “Happy” from Pharrell the Dude. Awkward and yet cute collided, and I kept wondering “Aren’t there laws against having little kids in active bars?” Apparently not in Florida. Anyway, my daughter sang two Adele songs and did her usual nice work, but wouldn’t you know it? One of the little tykes sang a second “Rollin’ in the Deep” after Jess. Eight year olds should not be permitted to sing Adele songs. It’s creepy not cute.
I drank two Blue Moon beers. My limit. Naturally I had to use the bathroom and I asked the waitress where the facilities were. “Go out to the lobby and take the elevator to the second floor. They are down the hall to your left.” I was a bit surprised. I’ve used upstairs bathrooms before, but I thought sending tipsy people on an elevator to go potty was a bad idea. What if they get sick along the way? Anyway I did as she said. I took the elevator up to the second floor and got off. It was weird. Apparently there had been a sports bar up there at one time. It was roped off and taped off now like a CSI crime scene. Plus the a/c was not working on that floor, so as you exited the elevator you were hit with a twenty degree increase in temperature and a 200 % increase in humidity. The dark wood and dirty red carpet were depressing, as if they held murder clues mixed with old beer and dried blood smells. I turned left since the other directions were cordoned off. I went into the men’s bathroom reluctantly, feeling as if some presence were lurking about this place. It was so quiet and stagnant at the same time. I half expected to find a dead body slumped over the toilet. No such luck, but the creep factor was strong. Then back to the elevator to travel ten feet down into a family friendly bar. At least it was cool downstairs.
Of course there were good moments, but I tend to recall the bizarre ones. They are more interesting, dontcha think?