Over the past week, I have seen tourist ads on TV for the theme parks in Orlando, and an ad for the Daytona 500 race. Yes, a lot of folks in and around Daytona Beach think that the national anthem ends with these four words: “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
In addition, central Florida has been in the news more than once. There was the string of tornadoes striking Sumter, Lake, Volusia and Seminole Counties. Then came the love triangle story about Lisa Nowak, a veteran NASA astronaut, driving from Houston to Orlando to stalk (and possibly kill) a rival to a male astronaut she had her eye on. The strangest part of the story is that she wore an adult diaper to avoid making any restroom stops on the way. Who else would do that, when there are plenty of truck stops and rest areas along the interstate highways, and she would have to stop anyway to fill up her gas tank, right? I can tell you one thing, in a society that loves celebrity scandals, that’s going to generate more interest in the space program than the successful space shuttle missions of the past year!
Most recently, there was the sudden death of Anna Nicole Smith, in a Broward County hotel. Granted, that didn’t happen in the Orlando area, but most outsiders don’t realize how different south Florida is from the rest of the state, so they will tend to lump all of these events together.
I guess since Walt Disney World arrived, life in Orlando has already looked somewhat unreal to others. They must see the city as a place where it can be hard to tell fantasy from reality. Still, a lot of the folks here seem to think I’m mad, for moving from Florida to Kentucky when they would like to do the opposite. My best answer to them is that after being in the same community for forty years, you’re ready for a change, even if it’s a nice place.