There are a lot of transplants who may almost get it and a ton of tourists who will never get it, but there are things you learn growing up in Florida that you know from a very early age.
1. Good parking spaces have absolutely nothing to do with distance from the front door of the building. It’s all about the amount of shade, baby. You can take the longer walk in the heat and humidity but getting into a car that’s been sitting in the sun and heat for an hour or two will boil your innards.
2. There is one season to dread and it comes twice a year: lovebug season. In May and September of every year, your car will be covered in bug guts and sporting events will be spent fanning those little critters out of your face.
3. You will never need a full drawer for your sweaters, but you will absolutely need one for your bathing suits. Actually, you can put your sweaters in a box at the top of the closet. It’s not likely you’ll need them much.
4. There are five words that you will know how to say and how to spell: Kissimmee, Withlacoochee, Econlockhatchee, Okeechobee and Islamorada. You will have years of fun listening to visitors butcher those words.
5. Flip-flops are the only form of footwear you ever really need. Period. They are even acceptable for church.
6. Unless a hurricane is a Category 3 or above, you sleep just fine. You might be cleaning the yard a little in the next day or so, but there’s no need to rush out for a truckload of water, plywood, canned goods or batteries.
7. You winter coat is nothing more than a denim jacket. Of course, it is always acceptable to wear a scarf solely to accessorize. It should probably match your flip-flops.
8. Riding the river to spot gators is a favorite pastime, but anything less than six feet is nothing to get excited about.
9. If you are wearing anything other than shorts on Thanksgiving or Christmas, it is truly a holiday to remember. You will probably forever remember that year’s holiday above all others because it was actually cold enough to wear that denim jacket.
10. Two scents you are able to identify practically from birth are sunscreen and citronella. They are year-round necessities.
These are just some of the traits, traditions and lessons passed down through the generations of native Floridians, long may we rave. As we become fewer and farther between, it is especially important to keep these truths alive.