Friday, July 19, 2019

Comebacks to stupid comments you’ll get when when you announce you’re moving to Florida

Thanks to Boomers like me, Florida has overtaken New York as America’s third most populous state. According to demographers, a thousand Boomers are moving to the Sunshine State every day. That’s 365,000 new (okay, "old") Floridians a year.

And the numbers are only going to increase thanks to new laws limiting deductions for property taxes and state income taxes, that are propelling residents out of tax-happy northern states like New York, Illinois and New England at ever-increasing rates. Our property taxes here are roughly one-third of what we paid in Connecticut for the same size house that didn’t come with a pool, golf course views, or friendly neighbors. Plus, Florida has no state income tax.    

If you’re among the millions of Boomers who are going to be moving here, be advised that everyone – family, friends, co-workers  – will want to express their opinion when you tell them you’re heading to Florida.  Some will say they’re happy for you. Some will say they are jealous. And others – perhaps the majority of folks around your own age – will make comments so stupid or nasty you’ll have trouble refraining from decking them. 

Why? Because you are their contemporary. The fact that you are retiring to Florida makes them feel old, a state of being many Boomers refuse to acknowledge. If you’re old enough to move to Florida, then they must be old enough to move, too, and that, for some reason, makes them feel compelled to explain why they would never consider it. 

Here, for your convenience, are quick comebacks to some of the most common comments you will receive when you tell people you’re moving to Florida. 

“I would never want to live around old people.”  
“Fine. I hope nobody ever forces you to.”

“I went once and couldn’t stand it – it was so phony.”
“You went to Disney World for Chrissakes. Disney World isn’t real.”

“I couldn’t move to Florida. This is my children’s home.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, they don’t live with you any more. When was the last time I saw one of their cars in your driveway? Thanksgiving? Christmas?  Have you ever considered they might prefer spending the holidays on a Florida beach rather than driving through a blizzard to be cooped up in a musty-smelling house where the windows haven't been opened since October?”

“I couldn’t live anyplace that doesn’t have four seasons.”
‘Let me get this straight. You are saying you would miss raking leaves, picking up fallen branches after sleet storms, shoveling show and paying fuel oil bills that, in any given month between November and April, amount to more than you made in a year on your first job?” 

“There’s no culture in Florida.”
“Au contraire.” (Be sure to use that term. It’s French, which means you know a thing or two about culture.) “There’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Heat, Jacksonville Jaguars, two ACC and one SEC college football teams, the Daytona 500, the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede in Orlando, and the Live Mermaid Theater in Weeki Wachi Springs. What more could you want?”

“I can’t stand Southerners”.
“So don’t move to Mississippi. Everyone in Florida is from the north. People who live in the south already enjoy mild winters so they don’t move there.” 

“What are you going to do all day?”
“Golf, tennis, swim, sail, windsurf, take walks, and ride my bike 365 days a year, after which I'll go to an open-air happy hour with my new friends. What will you be doing when the snow’s piled up so high you can’t open your front door?”

“People there are so different from the people here.” 
“Yes, getting away from closed-minded bigots like you was a significant factor in my decision.”

“What if you hate it?”
“I’ll move back. At least I am willing to try something new rather than ramble around a house that’s too big that I have to spend most of my disposable income to maintain while growing old in a town geared to young families that has no social services whatsoever for its senior citizens.”

"It must be a million degrees in summer." 
"Yep, northern and central Florida – Tallahassee, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Orlando and Ocala for instance -– experience hot, humid summers. But the southern half of the state, the part below the frost line which runs roughly from Sarasota to Vero Beach, enjoys tropical weather that doesn't vary all that much from month to month. Temperatures rarely reach the mid-nineties, even on the Fourth of July. The highest temperature ever recorded in Naples and Ft. Lauderdale was 99. Miami reached 100 exactly once, on July 21, 1942. How many 100-plus degree days do you have to endure summer after summer? Your A/C bill will be higher than mine."

“Florida’s too flat.”
“You really are desperate, aren’t you?”

“Will you ever be back?” 
“Yes, for your memorial service unless you die during the winter in which case I’ll send a lovely spray of flowers” 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Goodbye Alfred E. Neuman

The publishers of MAD announced this week that the magazine is toast. It will still be published but will contain nothing original, only recycled material taken from its archives which must be pretty extensive because, like me, it has been around for 67 years.

MAD is — was — a humor magazine. Humor is no longer relevant in a nation where everyone seems to have lost theirs.

According to DC Comics, MAD’s publisher, the magazine topped out at 2.8 million subscribers in 1973. It has less than 150,000 today. 

In the late 1960s, when I was in high school, MAD was considered the gold standard for irreverent adolescent humor. Nothing was sacred. Its writers made fun of anyone and everything, from JFK to Castro to Batman-ia to Woodstock to Nixon. My buddy Craig, who moved to my tiny Missouri hometown from LA our freshman year, introduced me to MAD. We inhaled every issue and laughed our asses off. I emailed him the sad news about MAD today and he wrote back, reminding me he once owned the first 100 issues.

Magazines are folding right and left and those that remain are disturbingly thin, but MAD wasn’t your typical magazine. It didn’t accept advertising. And because it didn’t, its creators didn’t have to kow-tow to advertisers or pander to any group. MAD was an equal opportunity offender, taking on subjects some folks held sacrosanct and finding the humor in them. 

The primary reason MAD folded, the reason comedy clubs nationwide have gone out of business, the reason you no longer see comedians on late night TV who make you laugh out loud, the reason situation comedies on TV no longer make you smile much less laugh, is because comedy writers are scared shitless of offending so they are writing material that is, literally, witless. With the exception of self-deprecation, humor is almost always at the expense of someone or something else, who becomes the butt of the joke. Humor writers are no longer able to joke about women, Democrats, Republicans, socialists, liberals, conservatives, Whites, Blacks, Latinos, Latinas, Asians, gays, straights, transgenders, politicians, entertainers, athletes, Italians, Poles, rich, poor, Christians, Muslims, Jews or people who are fat, thin, bald, young or old, without offending someone. 

We have become a nation of thin-skinned, humorless snowflakes who take offense at anything that makes fun of us or our beliefs, refusing to concede the possibility that humor can be found in almost anything we take seriously or hold dear.

College kids seem particularly sensitive and, as a result, joyless. Jerry Seinfeld has returned to stand-up comedy, but refuses to play college campuses, claiming political correctness has robbed students of their ability to see humor. But getting back to MAD.

A month or so ago Trump sent a tweet comparing Democratic presidential aspirant Pete Buttigieg to Alfred E. Neuman, the gap-toothed mascot who has appeared on the cover of every MAD issue since 1956. When you look at their pictures side by side, there is definitely a resemblance.

Buttigieg responded that he had to google Alfred E. Neuman, he hadn’t heard of him.

There is, I readily admit, no reason someone Buttigieg’s age (37)  should be familiar with a cartoon character who was at the height of his fame 45 years ago but this old fart found Trump’s observation hilarious. Say what you will about him but Trump does have a sense of humor. I still laugh at his contention during the 2016 primaries that former Texas Governor Rick Perry started wearing glasses to make him look smart. But I probably shouldn’t have put that in writing. Some of you will write me off because I just said something positive about Trump. 

Did I say I voted for him or agree with his policies? Nope. The mere fact that I mentioned Trump's sense of humor will be enough to convince some snowflake readers that I must like him and so, because they hate him and everything he stands for, they will no longer like me, in which case all I can say in response is (scroll down even though you know what's coming) ...