Forever Young - Want to Feel Young? Go to Florida

By William Thomas

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Feeling your age lately? Not bouncing out of bed like you used to? Been getting up to answer the door only to find that the knocking was coming from your knees?  Is that what's troubling you boomer? I have the answer: Florida.

Oh sure, it's a bit of a cultural wasteland - the only place where they rent theatre glasses is at Reggie's Roadside Reptile Retreat. Please! 

You go to Florida if you're an aging baby boomer in need of an artificial lift in your loafers because, in this state, everyone under 75 is officially categorized as a youngster!

I wouldn't say people in Florida are slow drivers but what some Florida drivers need is a neon sign on the back bumper that reads: "Honk twice if I've lost all forward momentum."

A few years ago, I boarded the big purple DeNure Tour bus destined for the Sunshine State. I spent 24 hours barrelling down to Panama City Beach, Florida with 40 senior citizens. Then, after several days in the land of way, way too many Waffle Shops, I got back on that bus for 24 additional hours of listening to the Dixie Chicks on every radio station south of Cincinnati.

(I did it on a bet. Okay? And I donated my winnings to my chiropractor.)

Oh, and I picked a great week to go to Florida. I wouldn't say it was unseasonably cold, and I may have been a bit delirious from a day spent at the back of the bus, but when we crossed into the Sunshine State, I'm pretty sure I saw a sign that said: "Frozen Orange Juice - Pick Your Own."

As much as DeNure Tours impressed me - friendly, efficient and cheap - I am suggesting a slight change in the name. Upon boarding, during the dos and don'ts discussion, passengers are instructed to keep the seat down on the toilet when they're in there but not using it. Due to the vibration of the bus, objects will fall off the narrow ledge next to the john and straight into the toilet.  On a previous trip, some guy left his upper plate on the ledge while he washed up in the sink and... you had to see this one coming, bright blue liquid and all, DENTURE TOURS!!!

My own brush with awkwardness came at the first lunch stop. Scott, the young driver had helped 40 elderly people off the last step by the time I came bounding out the door. By force of habit, he reached out to take my arm and assist me off the bus. The look I gave him bent his name tag. He mumbled a quick "Oh sorry" and then we carried on as if it had never happened.

If you do go, here are a few surefire ways to let people know you're still way too young to be a snowbird.

* You show up to eat at a restaurant with money instead of coupons.

* You think one Waffle Shop, Waffle Shack, Waffle House is just as good as another.

* The "Two-For-One" signs distract you while everybody else snaps up the "Three-For-One" deals.

* When planning a day trip, you don't allow for the amount of time it takes to get out of the car.

* You discover you're the only one who's been adding one year to your age ever since you were born.

* You find out that when a woman slaps her date's face in a bar, she's just trying to keep him awake.

* You discover there really are women who buy shoes for comfort and wear sweaters to keep warm.

* You don't drive a Cadillac in such a way only your hands on the wheel are visible from behind.

* And, finally, you know you're still too young to be a snowbird because - you tip.


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