Top 10 Things I DO NOT Miss about living in O-Town

26 07 2009

Totally Late, no excuses, but here they are, my Top 10 Things I DO NOT miss about Orlando.

#10 – I4. Seriously. Who in the hell came up with this plan? First of all, the road runs North and South, so why is it marked East & West. Stupid. Second, for like 30 years now, there have been a gazillion people a day in that town, so why is the road still designed to hold like a dozen at best? I can clearly remember parking my car on I4 in traffic and reading a book while sitting on the hood. And it doesn’t seem to have changed much.

#9 – Timeshare sales people. These people are telemarketers who can’t get work. Ugh. They are the worst. If you think you are fooling anyone by standing behind a “Welcome Center” desk, I have a bridge to sell you. If you think you are fooling anyone by changing your name to “Vacation Ownership,” you’ve lost your mind. Personally I’d rather have my fingernails yanked out than to have to listen to your spew. Stay Away From Me.

#8 – Ridiculously large spoilers on piece of crap cars – There isn’t much more to say about this, except that they’re stupid. What are they for? It’s a Dodge Neon for Christ’s sake. It tops out at like 70 mph. You are in no way getting fast enough to get any lift. You made the spoiler yourself in your garage. And by the way, it’s a Dodge Neon.

#spoilerfail

#spoilerfail

#7 – People who lock up their brakes on the interstate to pull over (on the interstate!) to take a photo of the Sea World sign. Seriously dude. Do you do this in your hometown? What would possess you to just stop in the middle of a 4-Lane to take a photo of a gaudy digital sign with me trying to get home behind you? Get off the damn exit. Look in the rearview before you lock the brakes up. Just think man. Damn.

#6 – AM Heat, PM Rain, Followed by PM Heat, Then do it again. – Every freakin day, count on rain at 3 pm. Only it’s not a cool, refreshing rain. It’s a hot, steamy, the ground is like a sponge full of sweltering dishwater rain, that leaves you heaving to breath in the thick afternoon haze. And it’s every day. And it’s even in the winter. And before you say it would be great to have heat through the winter instead of snow, you should try to get the Christmas spirit when it’s 85, 97% humidity and by the way, it’ll be raining at 3.

#5 – Lovebugs. – You may not know the name but if you’ve been to Central Florida you’ve experienced love bugs. These tiny critters appear to be small black flies or gnats but are actually TWO bugs attached in a seemingly permanent lustful dance. It’s magical really. Especially the way they cluster in the thousands and once they make impact with your car they become a permanent reminder that Florida is subtropical and there are some really weird animals down here. So you get to spend the next few hours scrubbing double bug guts off of your car. Thinking you’ll be lazy and let it slide for the day? The bonus is that If you don’t clean it off in time, whatever makes up the innards of these little shits will actually EAT THE PAINT RIGHT OFF OF YOUR CAR.

#4 Tour Groups – Now in an earlier post I talked about how great it was to have such easy access to tons of outlet shopping and the like in Orlando. It’s true. The same can be said of the entertainment options and dining. But there’s one thing that can always put the brakes on any fun being had by you. Tour Groups. As with many of these items, if you’ve lived in Orlando, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, they you have no idea. I distinctly remember exactly how I felt every time I was in a public setting and saw that familiar sight. Around the corner came a tour leader, dressed in flourescent green, fannypack strapped on and carring a tiny green flag on a dowel. No doubt to keep the group together, the flag may as well been the flag of a miniature army who’s mission it was to destroy any hope you had of accomplishing your errands at any point this week. From out of nowhere comes an army of bright green clad, short-shorts and knee-high socks wearing, portugese speaking footsoldiers. In an instant they’ve spread to every corner of the store/restaurant/attraction you’re at and just like that, it’s over. You’re waving your grocery list like a white flag and looking for somewhere to huddle and cry.

#3 – Come & Go.  Of all the places I’ve lived, Orlando is by far the most transient town I’ve been in.  It seems to me that it’s the type of town that for many goes like this:  You finish college (or don’t) or you come down to spend a semester in the Disney College Program and have so much fun meeting people from all over the world, going out with friends, partying and having a good time, that you decide to stay for a while.  There are plenty of jobs in resorts or at restaurants or bars, plus you can get a roommate and things are fine.  Things are fine for a couple of years, but the “new/fun” begins to wear off and you realize that even though it’s fun, you probably need to finish school/get on back home/find a real job in your major/be closer to family so you decide it’s time to head on home.  The tough part about it is that, save for a few, I always found it hard to connect to people and really make friends, because I never knew how long they’d be around.

2 – PlasticTown USA- This became my pet name for Orlando after living there for a few years.  I think I’d gone on vacation somewhere else and upon arriving back and surveying the town, I realized that Orlando has ZERO cultural or historical facets.  Everything is shiny, bigger-than-life, new, better than before and fake.  Now for sheer tourist dollars, this still seems to work, even after all this time.  But for me, once you peel back the layers of “stuff” that brings someone down for a visit, there’s got to be some substance there for people to live.  I never found that.  In New Orleans, it’s the French Quarter on a Sunday morning after the party, exploring old antique stores and discovering Jackson Square.  On the NC beaches, it’s taking a walk around Fort Macon after a day on the sand and discovering how it played a part in the Civil War.  As for Orlando, I’m still looking for that part, and I’ve yet to find it.  It’s too bad too, because it could be a key to making Orlando so much more interesting.

#1 – Did I mention the heat?

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Top 10 Things I Miss About Living in O-Town

14 05 2009

Heading back to Orlando with Cindy to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary this weekend got me thinking about what I liked about that town and what I miss most.  When we left, I really was pretty much done with the place.  It had left a young Greg broke, tired, out-of-shape and uninterested in any line of work that included me having to pretend to be nice to people who refused to be nice back to me.

So as I sit here in the eve of the return visit, I present my top 10 things I miss most about living in Orlando:

#10 – Never a shortage of cheap shopping with outlet malls close by.  If there was a nice pair of sneaks to be had, you could get them in Orlando.  With multiple Nike®, Adidas® and other name brand sports shops around, your feet would always look great.

#9 – 1 hour to the beach. I’ve never been a huge beach person, but I could get there quickly in a pinch when I needed to.  Daytona, Melbourne, and the like were a quick 50 minute drive and I could be in the water or on the sand in just over an hour.

#8 – Plenty of young single fun people – Orlando, unlike South Florida, is a young town.  It’s a place where men and women just out of college, or of college age, come to spend a few years having fun, working in average jobs and spending nights out partying and meeting other people their age.  There’s never a shortage of opportunity to meet people in Orlando.  It’s a great time when you’re a young man.

#7  – No State Income Tax – Thanks to the generosity of the millions of bright pink, fannypack wearing tourists who flood into the state annually, Florida has not state income tax.  That makes things much simpler on payday and around tax time.

#6 – The Orlando Sport & Social Club – This is the place where I met the people who became my closest friends in Orlando.  Whether you were a well-oiled volleyball machine, or a drinker with a volleyball problem, the club, at the time I participated was a great organization where people could meet, have fun and, as I said before, drink beer.

#5 – Calling my friends in January to talk about the weather. High of 88-95.  Low of about 70.  Mostly clear skies.  Showers at 3 pm.  Every day.  365 days a year.  Some call it boring.  It sure makes it easier to plan a wardrobe.  Or a party.  Or whatever.  Plus it pisses off anyone north of Atlanta when you call em in the middle of the winter.  “Dude – it is cold here today.  Only got up to like 62.”  Click.  “Hello?  Are you there?”

#4 – Pleasure Island – This place is closed down now, but in it’s day, it was a great place to be.  8 to 10 bars, one cover charge, a different club and music genre in each place.  Mannequin’s.  8-Trax.  Rock n Roll Beach Club.  The Adventurer’s Club.  BET Soundstage.  Comedy Warehouse.  Motion.  Wildhorse Saloon.  This place, whether you thought it was cool or not, was fun.

#3 – The Orlando Ale House – Nothing personal against the Carolina Ale House, but the Orlando Ale House was, for a long time, my favorite place to meet friends and watch a game.  The Ale House on Kirkman Road was HUGE, had about a thousand TVs and their chicken nachos could feed a small family reunion.

#2 – Publix Subs – If you’ve never had one, I can’t explain it to you.  If you have, then you know what I’m talking about.

#1 – Universal Halloween Horror Nights – I understand that the Mouse made Orlando what it is.  I realize that they run the town.  I actually worked there and I get it.  But for my money, there is no more uniquely Orlando event than Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.  When I think of that town, it’s always one of the first things I think of.  I love being scared and being chased through a haunted house by characters with movie studio quality make-up is first class.  The whole park – the WHOLE park – becomes a huge creepy funhouse.  The Bill & Ted Show is legen (wait for it) dary.  If you ever get to Orlando in the fall, it would be the one thing I’d suggest you put at the top of your list.

There it is.  My top ten things I miss about living in Orlando.  There are others that didn’t quite make the list – Seeing Space Shuttle Launches (and hearing the landing) live.  Christmas at MGM Studios.  Bass Pro Shops.  The Daytona International Speedway.  Have you been there?  Have you lived there?  Share your favorites.

Next up – Top 10 Things I Hated about Living in O-Town.