Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Now that we live in LA (Lower Alabama) we are experiencing, first hand, the American South. Just because our address has the word Florida in it, one’s mind conjures images of the trendy South Beach of Miami or the delightful Mickey Mouse as our neighbor in Orlando. Oh no, the region we live in on the panhandle is nicknamed “Floribama”. There’s even a little saying that explains the paradox of culture in Florida; “The North is the South and the South is the North.” Don’t get me wrong, we are learning to love our new home, it’s just that we weren’t expecting the culture shock. So, for your reading enjoyment, we’ve compiled a little list to help you get to know our neck of the woods a little better. We’ll call it “Floribama: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

The Good

The roads. We’ve noticed that the interstates are very smooth and streets around town are in very good condition too. It’s not because they have been recently paved, but rather because of the weather. Turns out streets really tend to do their job when they aren’t being demolished by constant freezing, salt, and plows. Huh…

The food. There’s a reason Paula Deen is so happy, y’all! Southerners know what’s up when it come to their food. They take it seriously. Barbeque, sweet tea, biscuits and gravy, and cheesy grits are some of our faves. And along the Gulf, they take their seafood just as seriously. Shrimp any way you like it, fresh whitefish, oysters and clams, and that’s not even including our fortunate proximity to New Orleans and delicious Creole dishes. Fear not, we haven’t forgotten the food we were raised on; we have beer brats for dinner more times than we’d like to admit, but I challenge you to find a knockout seafood gumbo in the frozen tundra.

The Bad

The lingo. Now this isn’t entirely fair or very nice of us, but the things we catch these “Suthunuh’s” sayings are strange enough to make the list. For example, you get a buggy at the grocery store instead of a cart. You pick up your booze from a package store. Or have you heard about the oil spill in the Guf? What about your plans for the 4th of JOU-lah? Now, we’re not fixin’ to offend anybody, it’s just that all these little colloquialisms are the constant reminders that we are far from home. [Note: It has not escaped our attention that if a Southerner was relocated to Ma-waukee, they’d find a couple two tree things that we say to chuckle at as well, ya know?]

The music. Want to jam out to some Jay-Z? Looking to get the Led out? Craving a little Coldplay? Too bad. It’s all country all the time around here, folks. That’s right, flag wavin’, whiskey drinkin’, boot-scootin’ country. Well, that’s not entirely true. When you tire of twang, there’s more than a few gospel stations to keep you singing for miles and miles. Yee-haw.

The weather. Don’t pretend like you didn’t know it was coming. If we haven’t made it abundantly clear in earlier posts, the Floribama weather is by far the culture shock we were expecting the least. For those concerned, our air conditioning and our fridge are choosing to cooperate once again and I am currently wearing a sweatshirt as I write this, so I will try to be a little more…diplomatic…about how I explain the wonderful weather. In Pensacola, when it’s sunny, it’s like the deserts of Abu Dhabi with no shade. When it’s raining, it’s like a 15 minute monsoon, and then it’s done. There’s no grey area in Pensacola’s weather. It goes big or it goes home. Also, do you know that tomorrow night the humidity is supposed to be 86%? You can drink the air here! When I was little, my least favorite of the Three Domes in Milwaukee was the tropical dome; it was sticky and felt like someone was breathing on you and there were too many weird bug noises. Well, thanks to the Navy, we live in the tropical dome. We have our AC set to 78 right now. 78 degrees is not supposed to feel cool and inviting, people! Oh and tell a local you think it’s hot and they get this sort of devil look in their eye and laugh this slow, creepy laugh and they all respond the exact same way, “Just you wait ‘til August…”

The Ugly

The oil. Funny to think we still lived in Indiana when the explosion happened. And now that we see and hear our new hometown all over the national news, it’s kind of surreal. And that’s what’s so terrible about it. It’s sad to say, but if the oil spill happened in Alaska or a different country, we would see it on the news and probably say, “Oh that’s terrible,” and move on. But this event is right in our backyard and it hits home. As much as we joke about the little oddities that make Pensacola the place it is, we are no strangers to regional pride. These people are proud to live on the Gulf Coast. It’s a unique place with lots of charm and a distinct way of life and it’s really disheartening to watch that way of life slip away. The oil makes the top of the list in ugly.

Hope this paints a little picture of our fabulous Southern life. ‘Til next time, y’all.

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