Saturday, December 29, 2007

Surreal (unedited)

I've seen touristy Florida before, but somehow the surrealness of it still boggles my mind.

On Friday afternoon I made a cameo at the local Pubix grocery store. I was looking for a little booze and figured a state that sells single cans of beer in its convenience stores would sell liquor in its grocery stores. I was wrong. You could get beer at Pubix, you can get plenty of wine at Pubix, but vodka and gin, those are taboo. Instead I had to go across the highway to a Walgreen's, which has a separate little liquor store. Why there wasn't a normal liquor store in the area I don't know.

The area where we're staying is on the outskirts of Naples, and it's bizarre. There are tons of resort developments all clustered together, along with housing developments. The housing developments around here aren't that spectacular. They look like nice houses, decent in size, but these aren't gigantic mansions. I'm sure they're high buck nonetheless, and it's odd to see that some of these developments have gated entrances. It must be a vanity thing. Burglars in Miami are never going to find their way across the state to some remote area outside of Naples, and if they do, I'm sure every home in the development has a security system. The gated entrances seem to be a bit of overkill, but it must make people feel better about their status in life.

What I can't figure out is what the hell you do around here if you live in one of these developments. I guess you go golfing somewhere on a daily basis, or perhaps you have a boat docked somewhere and you drive to your marina. But I'm use to real cities, like Minneapolis, where parks, corner convenience stores, neighborhood hardware stores, bars and restaurants all intermingle. You don't see any of that. I'm sure people know their neighbors and have places to go and things do to. Perhaps they all drive into Naples to go bowling, see a movie, check out a library book or rent a DVD. But you don't do that around these developments, for whatever reason. I don't care how much money you have to have to live here, I don't care how sterile and white it is around here, I don't care if the beautiful gated neighborhood is simply a winter residence for people with too much money, it seems so artificial and bland.

From there the surrealness got worse. After talking to my buddy Roast Beef for an hour, and learning he's getting married in February in Maui, marking another chapter in his bizarre life, I headed to Marco Island for cocktails with the wedding entourage. Wow, that was more entertaining than I would have imagined.

My cousin, The Queen, is getting married to her longtime boyfriend. Her boyfriend grew up with a dude who is a bonafide celebrity. I have seen him in at least seven movies, including two as a co-star, so yeah, he's a celebrity. The bar we were at was on the water, so it draws its share of people each evening. When the wedding party arrived there after the dinner, word of the celebrity's appearance spread quickly.

Our group gathered upstairs from the bar, on a patio overlooking the water. There were about 25 of us from the wedding party up there, taking up a bunch of room. But a few people wandered up there for a while, some obviously trying to get a look at the celebrity, who is quite down to earth. At one point he sat down to chat with the boyfriend's mother, who watched her son's friend grow up, move away and become a celebrity. I was quite impressed.

When those who worked their way upstairs decided it was a good time to interrupt the wedding party for a picture, the celebrity politely obliged. People would thank him, and he would thank them in return. It was fascinating to watch. The boyfriend said that it's a lot worse a lot of places he goes, this was a low-key night.

The funniest thing to watch, however, was Mandy. She is The Queen's friend and co-worker who has a boyfriend, evidently. How would I describe her? I'm not sure. Vapid is not the right word, but that was the first word that came to mind. She's very plastic looking -- probably 100 pounds, soaking wet with a toolbelt on -- and probably highly fascinated by celebrity. She certainly was fascinated with the male celebrity that came to his buddy's wedding without a woman on his arm.

I never was introduced to the celebrity, even though I was within 5 feet of him many times during the evening. Mandy made his acquaintence quickly, however, and wouldn't let him get too far away.

Mandy pounded a few drinks, fawned all over the celebrity, clutching him whenever she had a chance, and made it obvious she wanted to be a starfucker. Many of us in the wedding party were talking about her through the night, as she turned out to be quite a source of entertainment. Ultimately he shot her down, and she seemed a bit pouty. Given she was drunk by the end of the night I'm sure she has no clue how embarrassing she was, and she probably doesn't care. But watching Mandy in action was worth the price of admission and the perfect cap to one of the more surreal days I've had in many, many years.

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