Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moo's Travel Tips!

Congratulations Central New York, you've made it through another winter!  

Next up?  Spring and Summer!!! 

I'll bet that you are already making plans to take a break from the routine and visit historic sites while the kids are out of school.  More than a couple of you might even be planning to load up the SUV, minivan, or motorcycle, to head south and visit educational places like Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, Space Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, or, The Rockin' Roller Coaster.

Each of these educational locations is a great destination to take the kids, and, when taking into consideration gas, lodging, admission, and meals; rest assured that you'll have NO money left in your bank account when you return home!  Do your part stimulating the economy!     

But if you're like most folks, you won't be going to Washington, Philadelphia or Gettysburg (these, by the way, ARE excellent vacation spots).  Your family will want to go south, like, perhaps, oh, just thinking out loud here, maybe, Orlando?  Unlike most things I write, this is something that I actually know something about.  

I lived in Jacksonville, Florida (just 123 miles from SUNNY ORLANDO!) for seventeen years of my life.  THIS, if nothing else, gives me the confidence to tell you that "I KNOW a thing or two about living, and speaking, Southern".  Seriously, you're not from there, I'm not from there, but I've lived there, and I know the language that we take for granted here is 'different' down there.  And this is where I can 'Hep you'. 

I can provide you withphrases and expressions that will make your visit to the Sunshine State more enjoyable, and possibly keep you from being run off the road by alarge man in a Ford F150 'Pick-em up truck'.  Yes, I, can help save your life!

No, don't thank me now, wait until you finish reading this post.  Thank me later for the useful and timely information which I'm about to impart to you (and send money (to me) as soon as you get a chance) which will help SAVE YOUR LIFE. 

First, let's talk for a moment about some of the obvious differences between the Southern Tier of New York and the Sunshine State, shall we?
  1. We are close to Canada, they are not
  2. Canadians drive through New York State on the way down to their winter homes in Florida (Floridians are NOT happy about this because, A: Canadians say 'a-boot' instead of 'about'; B:  Canadians learn how to drive by playing video games because no one in their right mind would sit with them in the car and risk their lives teaching them to drive that way; C: When the Canadians get to Florida they STAY for MONTHS at a time, and, D:  Canadians think 'Tip-Ping' is a province in China, not something you provide in return for good restaurant service.)
  3. New York State has State Income Tax, Florida does not
  4. We have Mayflies, while they have alligators, scorpions, and poisonous snakes
  5. We have Chuck Schumer and they have Walt Disney's cryogenically-frozen body in a vault under Cinderella's castle (I'm not sure which state wins here, but I'm leaning more towards Walt's cold, dead, body, over Chuck's slightly more animated one)
  6. We have salt on the road all winter, they have salt in the air all year (it's from a thing called the 'Ocean'.  We'll have waterfront here too if Al Gore is right.  If all goes as planned, my home on the hill behind SUNY Binghamton will be 'waterfront' before too long.  And I always wanted a 'deep water dock' in my front yard.)
But hey, I thought this was about the things that you need to know in Florida that will SAVE YOUR LIFE! 

Yes, it is, and here they are!
Print out this list and take it with you when you go.  If you are confronted by a native Floridian, pull this list out, look firmly into their eyes and shout, "Now hold on there just one flat second, I've got to look up something here and it won't take but a New York minute - cool your jets, Speed-o!":

"I'm fixin' ta __________ ."  In the south, people are always 'fixin ta' do something.  For example, "I'm fixin' ta leave."  "I'm fixin' ta hit you over the head with this here gator I found hiding under my Ford truck."  "I'm fixin' to make a whole mess of grits." 

Bottom line is that if you are planning to do something in Florida, you are 'Fixin ta' do something'.  And sometimes, it's just "Fixin' ta rain."  Inanimate objects can do it also - just so you know.  And I'm fixin' ta' move on to the next phrase now...

"Would you like some hot boll penus?"  Be very careful how you respond to this question...  It's not a 'bad' thing, but it IS distinctively a southern thing. 

In the southern part of our country they take 'peanuts' and they 'boil' them (vs. dry roasting like most other Americans).  Therefore, in this example, the man with no shirt and three visible teeth is asking you if you would possibly like to enjoy some 'hot boiled peanuts'.  Knowing this phrase ahead of time is guaranteed to save your life at least once during a one-week visit to Florida. 

So if someone walks up and offers you 'hot boll penus'...  Go for it!  But just make sure they're pointing to a little bag of nuts on a table on the side of the road, on the back of a pick-up truck, or in a convenience store, just to make sure that YOU didn't misunderstand what they said.  Go ahead, read it outloud, you'll understand.

"Michael, just go ahead and put your finger in your nose so they won't look at you..."  Okay, this isn't a normal thing you would hear in Florida, but it does provide a little insight into the ambiance of the State.  I worked with a guy who had season tickets to the University of Florida's home football games. 

My buddy, Dave, had a pair of fake binoculars that were hollow and had twist-off caps where the eye pieces should have been.  The binoculars 'theoretically' completely disquised these flasks to avoid the confiscation of contraband liquor entering the stadium.  Unfortunately, Dave was carrying his son on his shoulders, and I had just come to the realization that the binoculars were leaking Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum down the front of my shirt.  

As we approached the Security checkpoint I told Dave about my dilemma and he told me, "Michael, just go ahead and put your finger in your nose.  Nobody wants to see you pick your nose." 

Much to my shame, I did it. 

Did you know that when you mix Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum with Cherry Coke it tastes just like a 60 proof Dr Pepper?  Don't ask how I know this, I'm not proud about it.  So if you ever see me around town 'digging for treasure', you might want to make sure that I am NOT up to no good.

If a waiter or waitress in a restaurant every approaches your table and asks you if you would like, "Mo-tee-sa?", or "Mo-tee-mam?".  Just say yes.  "Moteesa" is southern for, "Hello, my name is Ruthie, and I was just wondering if you would you like some more sweet tea?  "Sa" is the southern contraction of the word, "Sir", while "Mam" is the southern equivalent for anyone who is "Non-Sa". 

This phrase can be heard several thousand times a day in any restaurant in Virginia, either of the Carolinas, Georgia, or Florida -- so if you're driving down, be prepared, because you will be asked this question. 

Remember, the correct response is 'Yes'.  Any other answer is in-correct and the native southerner may take offense if you are not prepared to respond correctly.  And never respond back with the wise-guy Yankee response, "I'm sorry, I don't understand 'Rebel'.  Could you please repeat the question in some sort of broken English for me?" 

Remember, PRINT out this blog and take it with you where ever you go; because I want YOU to come back alive (so you can read, comment, and 'recommend' my blog in the future).

If a man in a vomit-colored, rusty tan and gray 1984 Ford F150 pick-up truck ever drives quickly into the parking lot of your hotel, tossing gravel into the air, and starts ranting to you about, if you have "Ever having seen Ruthie over at the Jiffy Mart, with Jim Bob in that 'G-D' 1996 Dodge Ram truck with wide tires, and big exhaust?!?!" 

The correct answer is, "Yes, I saw them over there a moment ago, and if you hurry, you'll be able to find them there still...".  Then, of course, you point in the direction you are NOT going and laugh quietly as your new BFF burns out his transmission grinding his gears AWAY from you.  (This, after all, was the objective of the excercise.)  

Don't worry about him.  That's just Rufus, and he's still not able to get over the fact that Ruthie ran off with Jim Bob because he (Jim Bob) had a newer (but obviously, NOT better) truck than Rufus did.  Everyone knows Ford trucks are the best trucks on the planet (just ask ANYONE in Northern Florida). 

Those folks take their trucks really seriously.  Rufus isn't upset that Ruthie left him, Rufus is upset because Ruthie left him AND his truck.  

This reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw in Florida, "Wanted:  Woman with boat, motor, and trailer.  To apply for marriage, send photo of boat."  

'Nough said.

Ah, the southland, it's like a whole other country.  And that's okay.  I made some of my best friends that I've ever had during my extended stay in Jacksonville, many of whom I still stay in contact with on a regular basis. 

These posts evolved from a series of notes that I had sent my buddies back down south after I moved up here so if you're going to blame (or hopefully, thank) someone for the 'MoosRoom' blog, blame (thank) Sandy, Liz, Lori, Frank, Kevin, Janet, Mike, and John in Jacksonville.   

When we first got married, my wife (who is originally from Patterson, New Jersey) moved to Jacksonville 'cold turkey'.  She  'freaked' because when she went to the Publix supermarket store for the first time and, "Strangers spoke to me.  And they were all very nice.  It was weird." 

We could all use a little 'weird' more often, when defined this way.  So while you're out and about on your daily routine, take a minute to speak to someone you don't know (nicely of course, don't make it to 'weird' for them). 

Tell them to have a good day, enjoy the summer, or to just, in general to, enjoy the weather.  (Okay, it's raining as I type this, but rain does stop after a while.)  But, if you get tempted to ask a stranger if they'd like to have some "Hot boll penus", you might want to hold off since you're still in New York State, and with that kind of talk, you ARE going to jail. 

But in the meanwhile, have a great day, enjoy the weather, and if you ever stop by the house, just ask for some 'Motee'.  We're fixin' ta make some in a New York minute...
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