An Alternative View of the Florida Keys
The Infamous Christmas Letters - 1999
Greetings from the Islands,
Let’s start with the hurricanes and tropical storms. Let me think. Floyd, Harvey and Irene. Floyd was monstrous. Enormous. It was bigger even than Luis, which was 500 miles across. If it had hit, you would not be getting this letter. How the Bahamas survived it is nothing short of a miracle. The weather service kept predicting an eleventh hour turn. No one here believed it would turn. They had said Andrew would turn in ‘92 and it never did. If I learned nothing else that week, it was that here, where the National Weather Service is located, where the people who predict the hurricanes actually live, no one – and I mean this sincerely – no one believes a word they say. I think it’s because there are enough people here who remember the weather guys when they were in school and secretly suspect that they graduated high school by cheating on their exams. Floyd turned.
Harvey and Irene were supposed to hit my sister Sharon in Tampa, 400 miles to the north of here. The weather guys said they would. Instead, Harvey and Irene hit here. What are the odds, I ask you, of two storms headed due north, taking a solid right turn at the 25th parallel and hitting me. I think Sharon has been sacrificing chickens in her kitchen to Chango and Yuki-yu. The gris-gris bag I bought in New Orleans this summer is obviously bogus. With that kind of evidence, I should be able to get my money back on it.
So much for weather – let’s discuss the island gossip.
In a larger town, where people come and go with great frequency, you would probably never know about a tenth of the stuff that goes on there. In the Keys, no event is too small to escape general notice. Here are just five examples in no particular order.
5.) One of our local officials
has a band. Our new
“Village of Islands” (I’m still not sure what that makes us –
town maybe? Village?)
bought a marina and park. Local
official threw a party there with 40K of public money.
He charged admission. No
one went. Wait.
I think his family went. But
they got in free.
Local Doctor (Dave’s) with plenty of money decides to involve his
entire family in an insurance fraud.
I know you are probably thinking Medical Insurance.
This is the Keys though. Think different.
He and his family (allegedly) helped a friend sink the friends
boat and called in the report to the police that it was stolen, or
something. In some bizarre
twist of modern engineering, the boat failed to actually sink.
All parties were arrested.
Jr. High Science teacher lied on job application and was escorted out of
the school by Officer Friendly. Many
protested this one. Science
teachers are weird by rote. No
one expects them to be normal. Rumor
had it; he carried a gun to school up in Miami after Andrew.
He couldn’t leave it in what was left of his house, or so he
said. I’m still not clear
if he was arrested for that, but it was definitely on the Miami-Dade
school board records. Anyone
here could have read them before they hired him.
Lauren’s current science teacher has her convinced that
ordinary eggs are lethal – we now buy free-range eggs. Dave is
considering buying live chickens. Again.
Local Dive boat operator takes boatload of tourists on a snorkel trip
out to Molasses reef - and
forgets to bring two of them back.
I think he was fired until that crop of tourists left town.
That one didn’t even make the papers, for obvious reasons.
Dave decided to send me a planter dish for Valentines’ Day.
Local Florist sends huge showy dish of plants, filled with
non-rooted cuttings. By
far, this one was my favorite. I
pulled the cuttings up, dipped them in rooting powder and re-set them.
About half of the plants survived.
Flower shop says it’s the suppliers’ fault.
They told me to return it for a new one.
Not in a million years. I
treasure that planter. It
is a true product of the Florida Keys.
Everything here is done for tourists.
And what are the chances of a tourist being here long enough to
discover that the plants died an unnatural death?
It was the perfect gift.
Moving on to the home front, what’s it been? Five years since I started typing this Christmas letter? Well, I have had an epiphany. Some of you have known Dave longer than me and probably already knew this, but I have finally realized that Dave isn’t going to ever take over the Christmas cards. With each letter, I have stepped over a new threshold in the “Dave” report. I had a futile hope that at some level, he would be embarrassed enough to just take over, or at the very least, want revenge. You’d think I would know that he’s impossible to embarrass. I could be wrong, but I think that in a perverse way, Dave looks on these letters as a validation of his year.
His ordinary activities this year included a final working trip to the Panama Canal, where he reported that the mosquitoes are back with a vengeance because the locals don’t spray. The Americans used to spray with extreme prejudice. We are a mosquito-hating people. Vampire bugs. Yuck. Now you risk Encephalitis, Dengue, Malaria, and who-knows-what-else, if you want to visit there. Advice: Do not take candy into public places and toss it out to the local kids. They turn rabid.
He went to New Orleans. The kids and I drove up for the weekend. It rained. It rained a lot. But it was fun. A fortuneteller told me that I was married to Dave for life. I’m not sure what that means exactly - my life or his? I should go back just to be sure.
You probably suspect that I am leaving stuff out.
Happy Y2K’ing, from the Cruciger Clan Silo Command Bunker!
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12/20/2008 10:33:34 AM
|Easter Apology 2000|