Monday, May 01, 2006

COLUMN: Florida Pt. 1

Some people take vacations for fun, like your cousin who went to California a few weeks ago. Others take vacations by mandate, like your creepy cousin who's barred by state law from ever entering Nevada again. Me? I'm somewhere in the middle.

I just got back from Florida. My grandmother, who's bound to outlive us all, just turned 100 years old. Milestones like that don't come and go without (a) a shoutout from Willard Scott, and (b) a family reunion. My parents immediately told me that I was welcome to ride down with them and their Yorkie in the mini-van. Umm... don't get me wrong, I love my folks and all, but a 3000 mile roadtrip with Mom, Dad, and a shaky, spastic Yorkie? Last I checked, the minivan didn't come with equipped with a courtesy noose.

I needed an excuse to drive down in my own car, so I quickly bribed, err, CONVINCED my friend Jason into turning my family reunion into a proper vacation. My parents' plan was to drive down, attend the reunion, then drive straight back, no lollygagging around. I had other plans. I heart lollygagging. It's not everyday one drives to Florida, and if I was making the trip, then by golly I was going to have some proper Florida time. While visions of spring break babes danced in my head, I loaded the laptop PC into the car in order to properly journalize our descent into... The Retirement Zone.

Day 1, 5 p.m.: We are in hell. Rather than the unbearingly boring drive south through Illinois, we have taken the even more unbearingly boring drive east through Indianapolis and Cincinatti before swinging to the south. In case you're wondering, Indiana is just like Illinois, except with possibly more corn.

Day 1, 5:30 p.m.: How does one know when one is in Kentucky? Well, we just passed the quaint hamlet of Sugartit, and up ahead is the exit for Beaver Lick. Just beyond that? Big Bone Lick. Make of this what you will. (And if you think I'm lying, go look at a map.) Despite my best arguments to stop and find a "Thinking of you from Big Bone Lick" postcard, Jason strangely keeps driving.

Day 1, 8:00 p.m.: We deftly avoid a conversation with our Kentucky steakhouse waiter, who has already told us that we need to live here, because in Kentucky, "real Southern belles know how to cook and take care of their man." If you listen really close, you can actually hear Susan B. Anthony roll in her grave. That said, the food IS pretty good.

Day 2, noon: There's only one place more backwards than Kentucky, and that place is Tennessee. We are currently at a gas station in the middle of the mountains, and a sign on the pumps reads: "Please Prepay. We Regret Very Much Having To Incontinence Everyone Because Of The Dishonesty Of A Few." Frankly, if they incontinence me, I'm suing.

Day 2, midnight: Georgia was an ugly blur, but we've made it to Florida. We have decided to stay in separate hotel rooms due to my inability to sleep without waking the dead. Our middle-Eastern hotel clerk does not get it. After finally understanding our desire to put each room on a different credit card, he mutters something about it "not being a problem at all" before flailing his hands in disgust and slamming things around on his desk. Hello, "Sunshine State."

Day 3: The Reunion: My friend drops me off and The Brown clan is together in full force, and it's actually kind of fun. Grandma is genuinely happy. Even cousin Isabelle from France shows up. She knows just enough English to fake us into thinking she's fluent, when I suspect she actually only knows every third word or so. Regardless, she's brought cake. More specifically, the best cake I've ever eaten. She gives me the recipe without knowing that (a) I don't know the metric system, and (b) I don't know how to cook.

Day 4: 1 p.m. Before leaving, we pop round to Grandma's house to say bye. This would have been a touching moment had I not accidentally walked in to a view of my grandmother changing her clothes. That's right, I've now seen a naked centenarian. And yes, the image is now permanently filed into my brain and will likely be making several cameo appearances the next time I'm out on a date.

However, no naked grandmas will take away from our agenda of fun in the sun. Will we find spring break hotties? Will I win the big jet ski race, impressing the beach babe of my dreams while duetting "That's the Way (I Like It)"? Or is that the plot of "From Justin to Kelly"? These questions and more to be answered next week on "Shane's Groovy Spring Break Adventure Pt. 2," gang.


Wendy said...

Have I got some stories to tell you about trips through the South. :) What I have learned so far is 1) Never ask for directions. Everything is "up the road a piece." Just how far that is exactly is beyond me. One kind woman gave directions that involved several distances, all "a piece" from the last and a square that's not square but round. And 2) Avoid the Pancake House. They never have what you order and the waitress cannot keep your order straight. She will, however, apologize profusely. I believe her mantra was "I'm so sorry."

Having lived in Indiana for several years, I can tell you that most of the corn you saw was probably popcorn. And probably Orville Redenbacher.

Oh, and as far as the cake goes - considering your cookie experiment, it's probably a good thing you avoid trying to bake a cake. ;) However, should you get the urge to try another baking experiment - I'll convert the units of measurement for you. And if you ask real, real nicely, I'd even bake the cake because I CAN bake and I'm that good!

Thanks for the laugh!! I needed one today. :)

Anonymous said...

That shor is some beautiful pasty-white skin you've got in that picture. I keep trying to decide what is more white: you or the sand. :-)

-shane- said...

i AM the whitest man alive (other than perhaps Barry Manilow.)

BUT... I'll have you know I got a suntan outta the deal!

Anonymous said...

I think everyone should know the true fact about this "Shane."

What is that true fact? How is it different from all the false facts?

"Shane" is Dave Berry! Yep, Dave finally got tired ehough of being sorta rich and bigtime lazy to actually place his fingers on the keyboard again.

-shane- said...

Hey, I'm not even a speck of dirt on Dave Barry's shoes. The guy's a living legend. Every Monday night you can catch me in full fanboy mode on the msg boards under Dave's real-time commentary of "24" every week.

I'd kill to be that spontaneously funny.

Anonymous said...

Years ago we stopped at a gas station in Tennessee mountains & the lights were out in the restrooms. Us ladies had to "hover" and pee in the dark! We still loving refer to that rest stop as the one with the "Tick Bite Toilet". I enjoy your writing, Shane.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Shane Berry. You kill me. ("Berry", strawberry, or cranberry or what?) And actually I think that's a pretty good picture of you. Beats the one they stick at the top of your column every Sunday. I've seen you. You're a damn good-lookin' guy. But that pic in the paper is just un-flattering. Sean Leary's is bad too, but he's sorta funny lookin' to begin with.