'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
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THE SUNSHINE STATE IN JANUARY JUST ISN’T NATURAL
Oh no, it’s 81 degrees as we get off the airplane in Florida. Now, in addition to dragging suitcases thru the airport, my wife and I have to carry our winter coats slung over our arms. What a pain. This is completely unnatural for January.
What IS natural for January is the weather we had when we boarded the plane at Bradley International just north of Hartford. It was an invigorating 10 degrees outside, and even though the sun was shining, there was that dreary, shadowy effect where the sun, low in the sky even at mid-day, filters thru the bare branches with very little of its brightness and warmth reaching the earth. It makes everything seem like a 1940s black and white movie. You can feel in the air the likelihood that gray clouds might drift in on a moment’s notice and produce a sudden snow squall. Yes, January the way it’s suppose to be.
But here we are, defying all sense of normalcy, trudging thru the airport in south Florida. Sweat starts to trickle down my forehead. As we step outside to find the rental car office, we feel the full effect of the sun and heat. My wife smiles and says, “Ahh.” I frown and say, “Ugh. Too hot.”
I notice that everyone is wearing shorts and sandals, and most have tanned legs and faces. It looks like Main Street in Mystic in July, the proper place and time for shorts, sandals, and tans.
Besides the weight of dragging suitcases and carrying a coat, I can now feel the weight of my long pants, wool socks, heavy winter shoes, long-sleeve shirt and sweater. Since getting back to a normal 10-degree environment is not possible, I need to find some air conditioning or else I’ll be forced to start stripping off my clothes right here in the pedestrian walkway. And I don’t think the folks of south Florida are interested in getting a close-up look at the most pale person this side of Edgar Winter.
The sun’s brightness is disorienting. I have a baseball cap and sunglasses buried deep within my suitcase, where they do me no good right now. When my eyes finally adjust, I notice all the vibrant colors – palm trees, flowers, birds, people, their clothing (what little of it there is); even the buildings are colorful. I feel like Dorothy stepping thru the doorway into Oz when the movie changes from B&W to color.
Once we get the car and begin driving to the hotel, our first mission is to stop somewhere and buy sunblock and flip flops. Now honestly, who buys sunblock and flip flops in January? How bizarre is that?
We do many other equally bizarre January things over the next six days: swim in an outdoor pool, walk barefoot on a beach, frolic in the ocean, realize SPF-30 ain’t nearly enough, and buy Noxema to apply to painfully pink noses, necks, and knees.
When the week finally ends and we journey back home, we’re greeted by a balmy 23-degree day with occasional flurries. Ah, January. Finally, all is right with the world.
We get to our frozen car at dusk. The wind picks up as we hurriedly brush five inches of newly-fallen snow off the windshield. We climb inside, start the car, and sit there shivering as we wait for the defroster to heat up. Thru chattering teeth I say, “Now this is normal. This is what we should be doing in January.”
After a brief pause, my wife and I look at each other and blurt out simultaneously, “So let’s go back to Florida again in February!”
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