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Copyright John Gerstner. All Rights Reserved.

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Deliver Me From Florida

Editor’s note … I wrote this in 1970 after a miserable family vacation to Disney World when I lived in Iowa. Strange thing is, I moved to Florida in 2010. Life is rich.

Palm, fence and shadow. Pompano Beach, Florida 2021

Deliver me from Florida, land of Crocodile Inns and Alligator Restaurants, heinous heat, frigid hotel lobbies, old men wearing baseball caps that read: “Retired. No Money. No Phone. No address. No business.”

And the wonderful world of Walt Disney World. Please.

Spare me from Mr. Disney’s “Imagineers”, whose most creative achievement lies not in devising new attractions, but in laying out the torture mazes in which people move like rats, trapped, sucked along, back and forth, forever.

Spare me from EPCOT, Disney’s gigantean experimental prototype community of tomorrow, which has much more to do with the past than the future. Thus, from GM we learn very little about the future of transportation except the shape of next year’s models And in GE’s Horizons exhibit we are shown kitsch scenes from underwater habitats. They look like the interiors of trailer houses. Odd too, that we pay such an exorbitant entry fee to stand in such long lines to see such glorified commercials.

Spare me from the mobs, the flabby sun-burned thighs–not a pretty sight–the lady who hogs Goofy to pose with only her kid–not cute—the Nikes and Nikons, the perverted sayings on t-shirts, the seething, sweating , smelling herd of humanity.

Spare me from the lady in the seat in front of me, in Pirates of the Caribbean–a simply bad attraction, all mechanical drunken pirates carousing, chasing women and firing canons at one another–and this lady asks her mate” “Are these people real?”

Spare me from the lime green and aqua blue Disney uniforms with the funny hats. Lime green and aqua blue will never be a pleasing color combination. And the uniforms clash with the orange and white color scheme of the monorail. Badly.

Spare me from the futuristic ballyhooed way Disney moves people. He moves them slowly and badly. How well planned is it to have thousands of people park, walk a mile to be crowded like livestock into a holding pen, wait in freeway-sized lines to ride either the monorail or ferry boat to the Magic Kingdom Island? Why not one huge conveyor belt? Better yet why not build a bridge and let people walk across to the island? Or is this too old fashioned? Or is this extra line-waiting a necessary warmup to the marathon lines ahead? Preconditioning.

And while you’re at it, spare me the souvenir shops (they’re everywhere, they’re everywhere). The attractions are busy, but the souvenir shops are busier. Spare me the $22 t-shirt and shorts combination with Mickey Mouse emblazoned on the front; spare me the $4,50 pair of Mickey socks and spare me the lady who prevents me and 14 others from paying for this stuff while she implores the clerk to please search his entire stock of sunburn lotion for a certain brand (Mickey Mouse?) which he finally convinces her he does not carry.

And spare me from the “Worlds” half of EPCOT. Nothing about these shops and restaurants gives You a feeling for the countries they are supposed to mimic, especially the food.

OK, I’m being cynical. . .maybe totally unfair – – ‘maybe un-American. It’s this cold. My nose is running like Niagara, my throat is as sore as a lanced boil. At night, every night, I lie in bed working with Neophephrine drops and tissue and aspirin hoping the drops will dynamite through the granite of mucous to gain a pinhole passageway so I  can breathe.

But I cannot. I toss and turn and cough so hard it feels like the dry heaves, and get up to get a drink of water, and blow my nose, and come back to bed, and lie there and blow my nose some more, and squirt in more drops, and keep my entire    family    awake   half the night.

In Ft . Pierce, on the only sunny, beautiful day Florida produced that week, I laid on the beach all feverish and crazed, spitting sand blown in my mouth by the stiff breeze, watching rotund bathers and my watch, hoping time will pass and the sun would go down so I can retreat to a dark, quiet motel room, or   cave or tomb. Unfortunately, the rain did not start until the next morning, the last day of our “vacation.”

Perhaps I am being too harsh on Florida. Perhaps I am only bitter because of spending all that money and having such a miserable time. Perhaps I believed in Walt Disney and find that he, like Santa Claus, is only for kids.

Or perhaps vacations are meant to remind us it’s not so bad not being on vacation.