Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where are you from?

The least you can say about snowbirds is that they love to chat, and the first thing they ask is, "Where are you from?" I guess when you're in Florida, or at least this part of Florida, so few people are local that this is a natural question. In two days we've met people from Ontario, Maine, Ohio, Ireland, New York, Michigan and Nebraska. I was seating next to the latter on a boat tour we took in Myakka State Park this afternoon. By the end, the wife was all friendly and invited me to drop by next time I was in Nebraska. "We're in the northeast part of the state, in an Indian reservation." She paused. "It's just horrible there. People don't work, kids drop out of school." Hmmm, okay then. This message not approved by the Nebraska Tourism Board.

Another thought prompted by vacationing in Florida: America really is segregated by age. The Sheila and I are 30 years younger than most people around us, a difference bigger than even at Saturday matinees on Broadway. We don't mind all that much but it can get odd. If you go to most French resorts, it's not rare to see three generations of a family vacationing together. (The past two winters, I went skiing with my mom and aunt, plus my sister and her husband, along with their young kids, and this isn't considered abnormal in the French Alps.) Such is not the case here. A vast generalization, I know, but it's just a little weird to see how this age-based division is implemented in Florida. In your early twenties you go to the party spots and get wasted, preferably before renting a jetski. In your thirties and early forties, you go out as a couple or as a young family. After that forget it: You are assumed to lose all sense of taste, and you're meant to only eat crap while pink becomes an acceptable color option for shorts. (Pink: it works for tween girls and senior citizens.) I wonder what's going to happen when the generation that's grown up on lattes and organic food nears retirement age. Granted, there is a class divide as well as one of age at work here. More on this later, as the lobby of our Venice Beach hotel isn't all that conducive to sociological musings.

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