Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Florida is for (Old) Lovers

As we learned again watching last night’s Republican primary, Florida is a strange state. Everyone here is from somewhere else—unless you were born in a shack on the Panhandle and voted for Newt. It’s hard to be a Patriots fan here in Florida because so many more people are from greater New York than greater Boston. Shouting “Go Pats” can start a bar fight.

It’s easy to laugh at Florida in the winter: all these old folks chasing Early Bird Specials. Because there are so many retirees living in Florida, the state stretches the lower limit of senior citizenship. I got a senior movie discount last night for the first time, and I’m only 60. Back home in Massachusetts I’d have to be ancient, 62. Florida is everything “American Idol” is not. It’s not young, it’s not hip, it seldom taps its feet or shouts “Yo!” You see some young lovers here, but mostly you see old lovers, if they’re still in love, that is.

Tonight, Katie and I had dinner at a beachside restaurant on Longboat Key on the Gulf Coast. We timed our arrival to the sunset. After ordering dinner and while waiting for our appetizers, Katie slipped around the corner and took a dip in the ocean. I did not, but then I am a “senior citizen” and she definitely is not!

During dinner, a remarkable singer in tee shirt, jeans, and sandles, John Rennell I think was his name, perched on a stool in the center of the deck amid all the blue table umbrellas advertising Corona. He plugged in his fender guitar and cued up a computer/soundboard gizmo that played the orchestral accompaniments to lounge classics, stuff you’d know by Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, Dean Martin and Neil Diamond. It’s not exactly my taste in music, but it was the right music for the crowd on hand, and he was damn good.

As dinner went by and the sun went down, John Rennell worked his magic, his tip jar started to fill, and Katie pulled her chair closer to mine. Then she slung her arm over my shoulder. I looked around the deck and didn’t see any other white-haired men cuddled close to their ladies, or vice versa, and I thought to myself:

Young love is supposed to be the ultimate good in our “American Idol” world. But I’ll take Florida any day and the certainty that this marriage is forever, that this love is real.

Take it away, geezers.

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