I have two good friends who have moved to Florida, or the Land of No Socks, as I prefer to call it, never understanding, till quite recently, why anyone would want to do that.
New York winter, that’s why.
I grew up in New England where you wore snow suits and sledded down steep hills on big round pizza pans. Our dog, Schultz, would hop on my lap in his little Shetland sweater my Auntie Ida knitted him and off we’d go.
And it was freezing.
There I’d be with cheeks like cherries and frozen hair unable to feel my ass, numb straight through, from the icy aluminum.
We had snow days when school was closed where we’d stay in our pajamas and watch Shari Lewis and Captain Kangaroo (yes Schultz had pajamas…haven’t you ever heard of doggie Dr. Dentons?) I’d see the snow pile up beneath the windows knowing I’d be home tomorrow too.
It was how I grew up never dawning on me milder weather even remotely existed.
Now that I’m prancing through my fifties at the speed of light, I see why birds, Jews and Peter and Andrew all went south. And boy, do I dread what’s coming.
My friend Hank emailed saying he was spending Sunday putting on his snow tires. “We’re gonna have a very cold, snowy winter,” he said.
Do I need snow tires? How bout a little Antifreeze in my tank (not a bad idea)?
This declaration made me nervous. Should I be checking out cheap fares for February and March? Shall I begin dropping not so subtle hints hoping for an invitation?
When I was with The Flying Dutchman we went to Palm Beach every year. Think of heaven with sun, room service and golf as far as the eye can see. The minute one lands you know you’re not in Kansas anymore, the whole city glistening as if George Seurat just gave it a fresh coat of paint.
If I miss anything about that addled, sick relationship, it’s that week in March when we’d call a truce twirling our tennis rackets donning overpriced swimwear. If I concentrate, I can still hear the ice tinkling in our scotch sour glasses. I don’t even like scotch, yet in Florida, sipped it like Orange Crush.
We’d eat sushi till we grew gills and enough gelato to make us poster kids for the Diabetic Foundation. But what I remember most was the warmth. How the sun quietly accompanied you every place you went, like an old aunt or Red Cross worker.
I’d slip into my vintage Fiorucci shorts sewn in eleven different places proving I still had game (at least to a porter or elevator operator), bra top and flip flops to walk the beach like a drunken mermaid forgetting that next week at this time I’d be back in swaddling sweaters sweating it out till spring.
I now know why Andrew and Peter defected down south…why when I say, “Aren’t you ever coming back?” they suddenly get another call.
Perhaps one day I too will migrate to The mighty Promised Land of No Socks where I can shed all of my L.L Bean winter wear for good, never having to layer, bundle, wrap or swaddle ever again.
“Ahhh,” said the Thin girl, “we can only hope.”
Susannah photo: Hank Gans….other two: Google Images