On living among the retired one percenters

VeroBeachFLHPAh…Vero Beach!  I love ya.  Seriously, you’re so beautiful.  Your beaches are free and your weather is brilliant.  At the same time, though, I simply can’t pay $135 for a short sleeved, casual shirt at the local men’s shop.  I don’t even know if I wish I could.  It’s a nice shirt, but, let’s face it…it’s not $135 nice.  Come on.

Charge whatever you think you can get.  That’s capitalism.  I’m down with it.  You want a specific clientele.  That’s your right.  I get it.  I know that demographic is here, or else your beach-front specialty stores wouldn’t be able to stay afloat, as it were.  Folks here may drive slowly and have a terrible time parking between the lines, but Lord knows they’ve got plenty of money to spend.

I truly don’t begrudge anyone here or anywhere a nice, comfortable retirement.  I think what’s making me uncomfortable is the exclusiveness.  I’ve lost count of the number of different gated communities I’ve seen during the ten days I’ve been here.

vero_beach_island_club

What’s breaking my heart a little every day I’m here is the obvious effort our society is putting into separating ourselves from one another.  We seem to be buying into the illusion that by putting up walls, implementing rules about the height of our neighbor’s grass, and charging outrageous prices for a golf shirt we’re somehow going to be able to live without the fear of anyone trampling on or taking from us what we’ve worked so hard to store up.

I’m not saying that all who have retired down here constantly say to each other, “Let them eat cake!” But I do wonder if all of the mansions literally built upon the sand here don’t play so very easily into the metaphor of so many misguided uses of money and resources.

We can try our hardest to isolate ourselves from the poor and the disenfranchised.  We can stand our ground all we want against the desperate and needy. But it won’t change the fact that they still exist in great numbers all around us.

Vero Beach, I’m glad to have the opportunity to get to know you.  You have so much potential; so much to offer.  I’m afraid I just may not be your type, and, like a fickle lover, you won’t even notice when I’ve gone.

 

On running with the Florida bobcats…

MaMaBobcatSitsSo, a week ago today we landed in Vero Beach, Florida, ready to begin work on How To Succeed. The cast got settled into our wonderful living accommodations, and after a cursory glance around town, I had in mind a few different routes I thought I might try to run while I’m here.

I’m in the middle of a Lenten Run Streak where I’m running at least one mile per day, every day, through Easter (I might extend it after the holiday…we’ll see), and finding new routes isn’t always the easiest thing to do when working out of town.

Several of us in the cast are being housed in some newer condos on the west side of the city, which has just recently seen some development into the more “wild frontier” type lands that Florida has away from the coastal habitations.

So, Friday evening after a long day of rehearsal, I decided to venture out a bit from the confines of our beautiful if not slightly regrettable gated community to the main road and beyond.  The main road is relatively quiet, especially at dusk, around 7:00ish.  After a straight shot of a quarter mile or so, I came to a traffic light and took a left.  This direction was sure to take me to some more interesting territory by the look of things.

After another mile, a second intersection presented me with another left onto a road which looked extremely interesting.  I made the left, and within a few hundred yards, bid adieu to the confines of pavement for the much more pleasant dirt road.

It wasn’t very long before I saw a woman walking in my direction with her leashed canine companion heeling very nicely alongside.  I had my earphones in, and was concentrating more on the Dave Matthews Band in my earbuds than what she was attempting to tell me.

“Waaa waaa waaa waaahh, ” she said, as she approached.  I removed my headphones to hear her more clearly.

“Hi! I’m sorry.  What did you say?”

“Watch out for the bobcats up ahead, ” she said rather casually, I thought.

“You mean, like a kids football team?” I answered, trying to amuse. I was sure she would chuckle.  She didn’t.  “Bobcats? Really?”

“Yeah, they come out around this time of night, around dusk.  Also, not too long ago a raccoon got a guy.” Again with the casual.

“Did you say a raccoon got a guy?

“Yeah. There was rabies and everything.  It was terrible.  That’s why I always walk with my dog.  Have a great night!”

“Thanks.  I will.”  I stared for a second in the direction of my certain doom.

How would they break the news to Malisa?  I thought to myself.

“Hello, Mrs. Langdon?  Yes, we have some news.  Your husband…Well, your husband had an encounter with one of our bobcats down here in Florida.  Yeah, actually he was able to evade the feline, but in the end it was the raccoon that got him.”

I turned around, turned on the jets and waved politely to the woman and her dog as I left them in the dust.

I’ll stick to the pavement.

 

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Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang