Please Forgive Florida

"...since it seems that Florida has earned the wrath of god for some reason, I thought I'd check in with you," said an email from a faraway friend in the wake of Hurricane Frances – Fat Frannie, as I've come to call her. Not nice, but come on: her big mass covered the state like a parachute descending on a spoon. If it seems glib to joke about it, believe me, being in Florida right now demands either a sense of humor or tranquilizers the size of baguettes.

Remember that scene in Lord of the Rings when Christopher Lee says of the trees "Rip them all down," and down they go? That's what it looked like following Hurricane Charley. After a total of ten days without power between the two storms, we are punch drunk, tired, scared and far away from ourselves – even though, here in Orlando, we didn't even get the worst of it.

Last week, as Ivan whirled out there over the Caribbean, threatening to pound the state again, I started to wonder... what did Florida do that so offended all of nature?

Whatever it is, I'm sorry. If it will keep us out of danger, if it will placate the elements, if it will keep my hot water running, I'll apologize for Florida. To whomever or whatever we've offended, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for all the Christmas cards you've ever gotten with a picture of Santa in a Hawaiian shirt and shades, looking like David Crosby. I'm sorry that you opened them after coming in from shoveling the driveway. I'm sorry for Disney World, where you felt compelled to bring your young children, a trip which cost more than your first car. I'm sorry that the loss of their binkie or their ba-ba on the monorail was worse to them than your creaking credit rating and and that they cried about it through half of one whole day while the adding machine whirred in your head. I hope you will forget the bad parts in a few years – your kids forgot them the next day. I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for Ponce de Leon's whole "Fountain of Youth" thing. It took the allure of time travel to get people to come here in the first place, if that tells you anything. Quite the opposite of youth, we are the world's greatest source of Old. I'm sorry you have to come here to visit your parents when you'd rather go to Belize or Ireland. I feel your pain. And I'm sorry for flying cockroaches, the word "parrothead" and people who drive on the beach. I won't apologize for Miami, a singular and magical place, but otherwise, here's a blank check of fill in the "for" line and I'll honor it.

Oh yeah. And then there was that one election. You know the one. Nature seems to know it, too. I'd like to apologize to the universe for that humiliating cock-up. I will go in front of the cosmic parole board and repeat myself as many times as it takes to keep the remaining trees, and anything else, erect around here. Don't get me wrong: this election remorse isn't what a friend calls "a Nellie Olsen apology," reeking of insincerity and self-preservation. I can assure you it's genuine. I'm sorry I ever heard of Katherine Harris. How humiliating.

Now you see? In the time it took me to write this, Ivan is turning away. See? In showing remorse for this offense, the universe has been slightly appeased. As of now, the only part of Florida Ivan may hit is the pandhandle, and I'll just babble on apologizing in private ("I'm sorry you had to read Hemingway in school," etc.), in hopes of saving that. I want the cosmic forces to know that despite appearances there are a lot of good people here, people who want to ensure that a "Florida election 2000" doesn't happen again. Besides, hurricane season doesn't end until after the political season does.

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