It was a cold and blustery day, the rain trickling down in fifteen minute intervals with an attitude that just screamed, “I could become snow any time now! You’d better watch it!” This was the day that I’d been planning for years, the day that my friends and family both looked forward to and dreaded, and the day that most of the rest figured would simply never come – this was the day that I moved to Florida.

Looking back on it all now, it honestly still blows my mind that the whole scheme actually worked out the way it did! You know, one day I’m working just as hard as can be down at the ole’ refinery, the next I’m truckin’ my way through Ohio and Kentucky and Georgia, my car packed in true Jed Clampett movin’ to Beverly Hills-style, and before I knew it, I was sitting in a cheap hotel room in Central Florida, watching Court TV and eating over-priced peanuts out of the mini-bar – it was quite the journey, let me tell you! Crazy hillbilly bikers, frighteningly-toothless rest stop attendants, sexy, southern belles willing to bare it all and help a stranded traveler change a flat – my trip didn’t actually include any of these people…but who would really want to read about two days of nothing but solid driving, anyways?!

Nevertheless, exaggerated travel stories aside, I did manage to get down here safe and sound – you know you would’ve heard a column or two otherwise – so now that I’ve been here a couple of months and had a chance to settle in, I thought with the new year and all that it might be appropriate to share some of the subtle differences that I’ve noticed since my arrival. Besides, it also seemed like a pretty easy way to both fill my weekly quota around here and still get a few pokes in at those much too far away to possibly defend themselves at the same time – I think the phrase that the kiddies are using these days is something like “kill two birds with one stone” or “mucho bling-bling, one banana”…remember, I never claimed to be the hip one…

But anyways, obviously the very first thing that anybody ever, ever asks me about living down here is, “Don’t you miss the snow?” and honestly, this one kinda throws me off guard just a bit because, well, you’ve got to be at least a little crazy in the head to even contemplate a question like that! It compares somewhat to asking OJ Simpson what it’s like being out of that courtroom or Bill Clinton what it’s like when he has to run out for a gallon of milk or something – the only person that could possibly even have the nerve to ask that kind of question is one who has never actually experienced it for his or herself…because if they only knew! So to answer the biggest question of them all for one last time – do I miss the snow, and having to clear several feet of it out of the driveway sometimes two or three times a day, and nearly getting hit by idiots out on the roads because they don’t understand that it makes them slippery? Not really.

“But what about all of those old people?” asks the second wave of interviewers, as if they’ve stumbled onto the one factor I didn’t take into consideration before I took the big plunge. “They’re such horribly slow drivers and they’re senile and they smell funny – what about them?!” Well, just between you and me, I actually have a pretty simple approach to the situation – they don’t bother me and I don’t bother them! I really don’t frequent the BINGO halls much and I do the bulk of my shopping long after most have gone to bed anyways, so there’s a pretty limited amount of exposure to begin with, but even if we do happen to cross paths out in the wild, I really don’t see anything to worry about – they’re usually more afraid of us than we are of them, you know! Of course, I also carry a tranquilizer gun with me, too, just in case…

Quite possibly the funniest questions that I’ve had to entertain so far, however, are those regarding what I do with my free time down here. Aside from going to Disney World, of course, it seems that television has somehow convinced the rest of the country that we pretty much spend every waking moment at the beach, taking in the waves, the rays, and most of all, the women…I suppose we can thank those Girls Gone Wild folks for that! Now don’t get me wrong – the women down here are gorgeous…absolutely stunning, really, and it’s certainly a nice change being around ladies who strive to wear something a little more provocative than jeans and a t-shirt, but just to keep the record straight, I definitely don’t have to go to the beach every day to find them…in fact, there goes one now!

So to wrap things up, things are all good and well here in Florida! The weather is warm, the women are beautiful, and every morning I wake up with a natural high just knowing that I’m finally here…that, and that I don’t have to worry about clearing the snow out of the driveway before going to work, too! I’d still like to thank everyone who kept on believing in me, even when the going got tough and failure seemed inevitable over the past several years, and I promise, as soon as I get the official word that every last flake of that dreadful white abomination has melted away for another year, I’d be glad to come up and do it in person!

In the meantime, however, the day is young and the beaches are plentiful – have a babelicious new year!