Six days and counting, and I continue to eat my way out of Florida. More good-bye dinners with friends we will not see for six months. So what if my clothes have gotten tighter? I am more than compensated by the fact that the non-use of my stove and dishwasher is a great energy-saver.
“Where would you like to go?” is the inevitable question preceding the appointments. The familiar response: “We’re easy; you choose.” By now I know better than to be seduced by this seemingly agreeable remark. It is never easy. Twenty-five to thirty texts and emails later we finally agree on a place. With all the effort that was exerted, we could have negotiated peace in the Middle East.
Why is all of this sounding vaguely familiar? Because four years ago, in 2012, I wrote on the same topic. I’ve decided to republish it. Considering that we are now four years older, I trust I can count on most of you to not remember!
In a temporal sense, living in Florida as a Snowbird is a lot like experiencing a second childhood. Not only do we once again have more time to play, but our very concept of time itself has strayed from the calendar year. In reality, our days do not flow from January to December. As children, our lives were governed by “The School Year,” which ran from September to June. As retirees, we have simply replaced the “The School Year,” with something called “The Season,” which has more individual variety, but lasts approximately from November through April.
So, as the 2015-2016 “Season” is winding itself down, I find myself reflecting on the past months, and have come up with the following observations.
I’m so glad this holiday season is over. Because if I hear one more boast about brisket, I think I’m going to spray paint someone’s Dutch oven. When did brisket emerge as the national dish of December? And where was I when this was happening? Clearly not in the supermarket purchasing Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix.
I realized that I was living on the fringe of a cult when I innocently asked a few friends, “How was your holiday? Did your family join you?” And to a person, the response was consistent –“Yes they did, and I made a brisket!” The pride factor was palpable.
Another aspect of this mania that I found utterly baffling was that each woman who rhapsodized about this fatty chunk of beef claimed to have the absolutely best brisket recipe ever, a family treasure handed down from Great-Aunt Selma, whose secret ingredient was whispered in the greatest confidence – grape jelly! Or was it Coca-Cola? (Some weird stuff goes into brisket.)
Do you remember when dining out with friends was nothing more than an enjoyable way to spend an evening? When choosing a restaurant depended only on the type of food you preferred to eat that night, and where your table was located may have been a preference, but not necessarily a deal-breaker? When noise level was not a major consideration, and every few sentences of conversation was not interrupted by someone on the other side of the table saying “What?” When the waiter did not have to repeat the specials three times, and then move around the table, and recite them three times again? When your biggest problem was finding a baby sitter?
Those were the good old days before dinner with friends became a negotiation.
The process still begins with a phone call to make the date. Your friend suggests trying the new Italian restaurant, “Cosi Fan Tutti.” “Hold on,” you say. You check with your husband. He wants to know if it is going to be one of those loud places. You ask your friend. She doesn’t know; she hasn’t yet been there. You tell him she doesn’t know. Next question: are the waiters real Italians? Your friend asks what difference does that make? He says, if it’s noisy, and they have accents, forget about it!