Totally Late, no excuses, but here they are, my Top 10 Things I DO NOT miss about Orlando.
#10 – I4. Seriously. Who in the hell came up with this plan? First of all, the road runs North and South, so why is it marked East & West. Stupid. Second, for like 30 years now, there have been a gazillion people a day in that town, so why is the road still designed to hold like a dozen at best? I can clearly remember parking my car on I4 in traffic and reading a book while sitting on the hood. And it doesn’t seem to have changed much.
#9 – Timeshare sales people. These people are telemarketers who can’t get work. Ugh. They are the worst. If you think you are fooling anyone by standing behind a “Welcome Center” desk, I have a bridge to sell you. If you think you are fooling anyone by changing your name to “Vacation Ownership,” you’ve lost your mind. Personally I’d rather have my fingernails yanked out than to have to listen to your spew. Stay Away From Me.
#8 – Ridiculously large spoilers on piece of crap cars – There isn’t much more to say about this, except that they’re stupid. What are they for? It’s a Dodge Neon for Christ’s sake. It tops out at like 70 mph. You are in no way getting fast enough to get any lift. You made the spoiler yourself in your garage. And by the way, it’s a Dodge Neon.
#7 – People who lock up their brakes on the interstate to pull over (on the interstate!) to take a photo of the Sea World sign. Seriously dude. Do you do this in your hometown? What would possess you to just stop in the middle of a 4-Lane to take a photo of a gaudy digital sign with me trying to get home behind you? Get off the damn exit. Look in the rearview before you lock the brakes up. Just think man. Damn.
#6 – AM Heat, PM Rain, Followed by PM Heat, Then do it again. – Every freakin day, count on rain at 3 pm. Only it’s not a cool, refreshing rain. It’s a hot, steamy, the ground is like a sponge full of sweltering dishwater rain, that leaves you heaving to breath in the thick afternoon haze. And it’s every day. And it’s even in the winter. And before you say it would be great to have heat through the winter instead of snow, you should try to get the Christmas spirit when it’s 85, 97% humidity and by the way, it’ll be raining at 3.
#5 – Lovebugs. – You may not know the name but if you’ve been to Central Florida you’ve experienced love bugs. These tiny critters appear to be small black flies or gnats but are actually TWO bugs attached in a seemingly permanent lustful dance. It’s magical really. Especially the way they cluster in the thousands and once they make impact with your car they become a permanent reminder that Florida is subtropical and there are some really weird animals down here. So you get to spend the next few hours scrubbing double bug guts off of your car. Thinking you’ll be lazy and let it slide for the day? The bonus is that If you don’t clean it off in time, whatever makes up the innards of these little shits will actually EAT THE PAINT RIGHT OFF OF YOUR CAR.
#4 Tour Groups – Now in an earlier post I talked about how great it was to have such easy access to tons of outlet shopping and the like in Orlando. It’s true. The same can be said of the entertainment options and dining. But there’s one thing that can always put the brakes on any fun being had by you. Tour Groups. As with many of these items, if you’ve lived in Orlando, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, they you have no idea. I distinctly remember exactly how I felt every time I was in a public setting and saw that familiar sight. Around the corner came a tour leader, dressed in flourescent green, fannypack strapped on and carring a tiny green flag on a dowel. No doubt to keep the group together, the flag may as well been the flag of a miniature army who’s mission it was to destroy any hope you had of accomplishing your errands at any point this week. From out of nowhere comes an army of bright green clad, short-shorts and knee-high socks wearing, portugese speaking footsoldiers. In an instant they’ve spread to every corner of the store/restaurant/attraction you’re at and just like that, it’s over. You’re waving your grocery list like a white flag and looking for somewhere to huddle and cry.
#3 – Come & Go. Of all the places I’ve lived, Orlando is by far the most transient town I’ve been in. It seems to me that it’s the type of town that for many goes like this: You finish college (or don’t) or you come down to spend a semester in the Disney College Program and have so much fun meeting people from all over the world, going out with friends, partying and having a good time, that you decide to stay for a while. There are plenty of jobs in resorts or at restaurants or bars, plus you can get a roommate and things are fine. Things are fine for a couple of years, but the “new/fun” begins to wear off and you realize that even though it’s fun, you probably need to finish school/get on back home/find a real job in your major/be closer to family so you decide it’s time to head on home. The tough part about it is that, save for a few, I always found it hard to connect to people and really make friends, because I never knew how long they’d be around.
2 – PlasticTown USA- This became my pet name for Orlando after living there for a few years. I think I’d gone on vacation somewhere else and upon arriving back and surveying the town, I realized that Orlando has ZERO cultural or historical facets. Everything is shiny, bigger-than-life, new, better than before and fake. Now for sheer tourist dollars, this still seems to work, even after all this time. But for me, once you peel back the layers of “stuff” that brings someone down for a visit, there’s got to be some substance there for people to live. I never found that. In New Orleans, it’s the French Quarter on a Sunday morning after the party, exploring old antique stores and discovering Jackson Square. On the NC beaches, it’s taking a walk around Fort Macon after a day on the sand and discovering how it played a part in the Civil War. As for Orlando, I’m still looking for that part, and I’ve yet to find it. It’s too bad too, because it could be a key to making Orlando so much more interesting.
#1 – Did I mention the heat?