"St. Pete or Bust! 2000" story # 24

St. Petersburg, Florida           February 10, 2001

For a "papparazzi" "Date of the Week" XXI, Robin and I snuck into the fine Don CeSar Hotel. It's an eight-story, bright pink, castle-shaped building that attracted many deep-pocketed people who came to our part of Florida for the Super Bowl. Joe Montana, Steven Seagal, and Brittney Spears were all rumored to be staying there, so my date and I took our cameras and hoped to see some stars. No disrespect to Robin, but I was especially hoping to catch a glimpse of Brittney (I think she'd dig me and my "Date of the Week" program).
     Actually, though, the need to see a pretty celebrity wasnīt all that important because Robin was a babe. Not one of those modern, cocky babes with an ego the size of Florida. Robinīs an old-fashioned babe who~s sweet and innocent - the type of babe youīd have to court to have a chance with. In fact, she probably wouldnīt even approve of her calling her a babe. Oh, well, too late now. This babe (er, I should probably use a different word: broad? no. dame? . . . how about "lovely young lady") - This lovely young lady had light hair colored of a saintīs halo, an unsure voice made out of gingerbread, prim posture and a healthy body, and a tiny face with soft blue eyes, unheavy eyebrows, and smooth complexion, which seemed never to have been marred by even a second of anger. If these were the 1940īs, or if I had more time in Florida, I wouldīve given Robin some roses, declared my intentions to her father, and begun our lengthy courting. But, alas, we only had an hour and a half together.
     Robin and I entered the ritzy hotel without being spotted as intruders. We passed through wide, tacky pink halls and spiraled up a flight of stairs into the bar. Glass chandeliers hung above light carpet and plush couches. The elegant arena was empty except for a few people huddled near the long, marble bar. A quick check revealed that all the celebrities mustīve gone to the Super Bowl. So, Robin and I went to talk alone on a balcony overlooking the hotel pool and courtyard.
     MODERN ODDYSEUSī DATING ADVICE # 21 - Iīd just like to take a moment here to give a shout-out to my buddy, Gordo, from Long Island. Yeah, Gordo, rock out buddy, itīs your birthday . . .
     Shit! I wish I wouldīve learned some practical advice for enticing my date.
     Instead, I spent most of the time trying to find out what made Robin so nice. I learned she was a Protestant, but not one who went to church. She was the middle of three sisters, but the other two could be pretty wild at times. She came from Maine, which is a state full of hippies; Minnesotaīs the nice state.
     The important thing I learned from this was that a nice girl, however she became that way, is better than a famous girl because you can hear caring in her words, see harmony in her eyes, and feel love in her hugs -- and, especially, it helps if sheīs a babe.

As the "Date of the Week" program and my time in Florida are coming to their end, itīs time to sit back and reflect. And, you know what that means! Iīm going to get serious for a moment, if Iīm capable, and very, very opinionated.
     Itīs the exciting time for the second-ever MODERN ODDYSEUSī TOP 5!!! Weīll start with . . .

1. TRAGIC SOCIETY - In many ways, it seems that Floridians donīt want to enjoy themselves. Having fun and being happy, as as priorities, are way below toiling for financial status and remaining in comfortable ruts. Florida laughter is short and reserved, sounding self-appreciative and mighty so a personīs image wonīt be hurt by revealing too much enjoyment. Florida conversations are often complaint-filled and negative, as if a prize existed for the person who could depress the most people with the sadness of his life story.

2. TOO MUCH DEVELOPMENT - Before civilization, Florida was gorgeous. Today, itīs full of horrible, concrete-infested cities. Palm tree forests have been replaced by malls and strips of dull chain stores. The scent of salty humidity clinging to sharp, thirsty plants has been replaced by car exhaust. The beauty and uniqueness of nature and humanity doesnīt remain in me for long when Iīm surrounded by grey steel upon grey steel.

3. MEAN PEOPLE - When biking the trails of my favorite St. Petersburg beach, I insist on saying "hello" to those I pass. It seems the right thing to do, considering the natural setting, but only about 15% of the people respond. Most make gruff eye contact and say nothing, looking at me insecurely and wondering what I want from them. Floridians have become uncaring for others, because the society they live in teaches them to value personal wealth above all else - to value belongings, which our theirs to own, over good deeds or friendships, which canīt increase their material worth. Obsession with personal well-being has nearly eliminated concern for human-kind, and people are ever becoming less likely to go out of their way for others - even if itīs just to brighten someoneīs day with a "good morning" and a smile.
     I hate talk of this nature, so Iīd like to interrupt to offer a contradictory, positive scene: Iīm in the backseat of a speeding car heavily scented with marijuana, holding an open beer in one hand and two snakes in the other. Iīm riding with a hick couple and their unintelligible, bearded friend, and they donīt care that the bus has a flat tire because "Hey, itīs just a rental" and theyīre too busy anyways getting drunk and singing to the blaring Def Leppardīs "Poor Some Sugar On Me." When we finally arrive at my precise hitchhiking destination, a baseball game in Kissimmee, the round-faced driver reveals that heīd gone an hour out of his way to bring me there. "What?" I say. "Well, let me atleast give you some money for gas."
     "Nah," the driver says. "Donīt worry about it. Just tell the people at your school you met some nice people today." He smiles and drives off, barely allowing me to thank him.
     (This took place in March 2000. I donīt promote everything in this scene, but it was an experience with a nice Floridian. And, as far as Iīm concerned, itīs a much, much more positive scene than the terror (brace yourself!) of the following...)

4. BOOTY DANCING - Thereīs no doubt in my mind that America, with the possible exception of England, had the best music of the last century. Jazz, Blues, Rock. But, if you go out for music in, for example, Tampa on the weekend, chances are youīre going to end up shaking your groin in tight, provocative contact with the groin of another person - who almost definitely will be slimy and sketchy - who youīve never met before. This recent phenomenon is carried out to popular music with a repetative, unstimulating beat and to lyrics which are usually hostile, violent, venge-filled, loose-moralled, dishonest, pessimistic, greedy, self-praising, or contradictive. Iīd like to forget 90īs culture ever happened.

5. INDULGENCES - Many people are no longer able to create happiness or to have it consistently. Theyīre excited only to eat, go shopping, have sex, watch television, possibly drink. These things take over their lives, provide weakness, and control them.

Boy! That was sad and exhausting. Iīm glad to have the negatives behind us. Alright! On to . . .

1. WEATHER - Iīve honestly experienced months where Iīve gotten sunburnt up to twenty times. Not that anyone would want to do that, but itīs nice to know you always can in St. Petersburg, Florida. For most of the year, the water stays cool enough to refresh you.

2. FOOD - My love for the gargantuan helpings of ice cream, steak, and pizza you can get in Florida may be in direct contradiction to the last item on the "Worst Things About Florida" list, but "When in Rome . . . " I use an incredible amount of energy by simply sitting on my butt, which I do a lot of, so I need to eat a lot. In other places, this becomes a chore, but in American restaurantss I can always shovel sweet, salty, or fried food into my mouth for an hour or more and love every minute of it.

3. SPRING TRAINING - Thereīs not a month in the world Iīd rather spend than March in Florida. As a huge fan of Americaīs pasttime, "The Grand Olī Game," baseball, I take advantage of when twenty major league teams come to the state to play games daily in front of small crowds for cheap admission. Itīs difficult to get to these games without a car, ofcourse. Last year, on consecutive Saturdays, I hitchhiked to Kissimmee to watch my favorite player, Dwight "Doc" Gooden pitch. The first time I tried it, despite the generosity of some very nice hicks, I learned after arriving at the ballpark that the "Doc" wasnīt even playing that day. The following Saturday, I required 13 rides just to go the 120 miles to Kissimmee, and, when I finally got there, the only action I was in time to see was everybody leaving the stadium because the game had ended. Despite such poor luck, I managed to watch baseball more days than attend class for the month, and, in my book, you canīt beat that!

4. FUNNY PEOPLE - Thereīs no nationality Iīd rather joke around with more than Americans. (The British can be funny too, and you gotta love Australians and Canadians, of course, because theyīre just plain nuts.) The sense of humor of the country has evolved into something ironic, absurd, repetative, gesture-filled, progressive, surprising, impressionistic, and intelligent. My friends, Ewan "Johnny" Smith and Cory "Johnny" Anderson, rarely say anything that isnīt humor, and Luke "Johnny" Seipp-Williams enters contests with us to be the most funny. You had to be there, but Iīll provide examples:
     Johnny (Ewan) - (alluding to the fact that we donīt normally have many luxurious possessions in our apartment) "What, did you win the lotto?" (he asked me this one day because I suddenly had a dozen pens)
     Johnny (Cory) - (rooting on a scooter-fish in Ewan "Johnny" Smithīs aquarium that he wanted to survive, because all the other fish had died) "Youīre gonna pull through, buddy! Youīre gonna make it! Itīs just you and the big, blue sea - just you and wide, open ocean. Youīre really doing it, Scooter..."
     Johnny (Luke) - (eating pie made by his friend, who is vegan and doesnīt eat animal products. She had just announced proudly that sheīd made the pie without using animal products, except in the pieīs crust, but Luke pretended not to hear her correctly) "Itīs a good thing you made the crust without animal products, because thatīs the only part I like. I donīt really like the rest of it . . . "

5. FT. DESOTO/CALADESI ISLAND - These natural parts of St. Petersburg are about the only places in the area to avoid Florida development. Caladesi Island resembles a tropical oasis, and Ft. DeSoto is a long beach with soft sand, green water, and pink sunsets. Ft. DeSoto is my favorite place Iīve ever been, and it would be just about perfect without all the unfriendly people.

As you can see, there are many good things about Florida. (including, HONORABLE MENTION - MIAMI, the only American city I like, and GUYS DONīT WEAR TIGHT PANTS) With such unfriendly people, though, I donīt think I could live there. However, itīd be great to return for the month of March, or a beach trip, or dinner, or for a second date with a certain babe.

later, Modern Oddyseus

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