Another day in fools' paradise
With Hurricane Wilma three weeks in the meteorological books and utilities restored to most in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, things in South Florida are more or less back to normal. For example, two Fort Lauderdale doctors just pleaded guilty to using fake botox; a toddler drowned in a West Palm Beach swimming pool; three brave up-and-comers rammed a motorboat into a channel marker near Boynton Beach in the pitch black, killing one of them; a Pompano Beach family was killed when their SUV collided with a train; and the recently suspended city manager of Deerfield Beach is petitioning for a contract extension.
Threads of normalcy ran throughout my own busy day as well. I was awakened by the hammering, yammering and general loud bonhomie of the "workers" outside my door, who seemed to be intent on reaching relatives back in Gaudalajara without the use of telecommunications devices. When I went outside, one of them was using a leaf blower to clear pieces of terra cotta roofing from the steps. Several discarded Coke cans lay in the third-floor breezeway serving four apartments: signatures of the construction trade.
When it came time for my afternoon run -- done in the typical crisp 80-degree temps of mid-November -- I was treated to the sight of an apartment complex with screen balconies that had been uniformly treated like five-dollar whores, with the enclosures having been transformed into curious Rorshach patterns of torn mesh and warped metal; perhaps the residents had left them that way after declaring them art. I alternately dodged piles of branches and septuagenarian-commanded golf carts. I passed a stone golf-community marker that had been toppled by Wilma and not yet righted and marveled; it easily carried the heft of a half-dozen large gravestones. (Of course, in accordance with local standards of shoddiness, it had probably never been sunk properly in the ground but simply placed on the soil.)
After waiting almost five minutes for the recently restored traffic signal to change in my favor so I could cross my local eight-lane monstrosity, I watched a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Deputy blow through the nascent red light less than ten feet from where I stood, en route to a destination that evidently warranted no siren. Like every other motorist in this swampy armpit, he obviously believed that shaving two minutes off his trip to the next box store or fast-food joint was more important than yielding the lawful right of way to someone dumb enough to be on foot in this century. "I hate this fucking place," I remarked to the wading birds lurking elegantly at the brim of a nearby canal. I believe they empathized, but were apparently more accepting of the direction this place has taken than I.
Once home, I figured I'd work a necessary visit to the local parochial school in with a trip to the nearby dog park. The skies were clear when I left, darkening by the time I left the school ten minutes later, and as I approached the park the deluge began. "Sorry," I muttered into the back seat, and turned around.
By the time I got home the skies were blue again. I had to go to the grocery store and considered walking the one-klick distance, but reckoned I'd get soaked if I did. So I drove, nearly being clipped by a Jeep housing two bimbi and cranking along the main driveway of the apartment complex in reverse. Sure enough, when I left Publix (jammed, as always, regardless of day or time thereof), it was pouring South Florida-style. I congratulated myself for my wise decision and stepped off the curb. I was soaked within three seconds and, having demonstrated sterling judgment in wearing flip-flops, almost fell on my ass with twenty-five pounds' worth of groceries.
The lowlight of the day, if not the most emblematic, was finding reason to post these uninspired, uninspiring events on Jeff Kilgore's message board as soon as I was in for the evening. That's like slithering into a bar full of malevolent, coked-up NFL washouts and moaning toward the floor about how you can't keep your hot but stupid wife from banging other guys. At least here I have those benevolent bonobos (however faint) for an audience.