I’m sitting on the wooden walkway, on a green metal bench, sipping an iced coffee. I’m watching a Cessna single-engine plane pull an advertising banner across the slightly blue hazy sky. The banner is telling us to shop at the Tanger Outlet Mall. I look around and realize that this is the mall I’m in right now. Wow! Is that a coincidence or what? I’m grateful for this bench, because it’s located in front of the main entrance to the Polo/Ralph Lauren store. Every time someone enters or leaves, I get a free blast of cold air.
It’s one of the few free things you can enjoy when you’re this close to Sanibel Island.
As I watch the Cessna fade into the humid air, I wonder why I’m spending my valuable time sitting alone at an outlet mall in Florida. People flock here this time of year (we did) to escape the winters of the north. How was I to know that we were arriving in the middle of one of the more memorable heat waves in recent years.
“This is very unusual for early November,” everyone says. “Just wait, it’ll get better.”
I am very reluctant to cross the parking lot, get into my car, and drive back to our RV. I know when I step off this deck and into the sun, I’ll pay dearly. Yesterday, I looked at my indoor/outdoor thermometer that I mounted with Velcro on the wall just above my head where I sleep…if I sleep. It displayed triple digits. I began to worry about the propane canister that is attached to our L.L. Bean grill. There was a warning on the label about exposing the little tank to…..degrees. That part of the label was torn.
Was my cooking propane tank going to explode while I was at the Outlet Mall?
I thought about that for a minute. There would be a fairly large explosion that would likely affect the trailers nearby–and that wouldn’t be hard because the distance between lots is quite small. (I can sit in our attached tent structure and watch CNN in the RV next door.) I pondered the damage of such a fire storm–the cylinder is new and full of propane. The mushroom cloud alone would attract people in the pool or the Shuffleboard courts. The fire truck that would arrive would block the narrow street we lived on and the people in the golf carts would have to make an extra block.
I hope our propane doesn’t explode. I don’t even know if we’re covered by AAA for something like that.
After I dumped the watery iced coffee into a bright green trash can, I drove home. I switched on our AC and immediately began to worry about how much electricity it would cost to get cool me off for ten minutes. Mariam was working today–she does everything by phone and computer–so she’s over in the “library” taking advantage of one of the two “hot spots” for the WiFi in our resort. I tried going to the “library” to do some writing and thinking but I found it very distracting. Every few minutes someone would come in and borrow a Nora Roberts or John Saul book. My concentration would be broken. I’m trying to work on a novel, but a “real” writer needs time alone. Even amateurs like me need a place to think things through in peace.
I guess I’m just listless in Fort Myers. The humidity would tire anyone out, even perky people like Rachel Ray would begin to stir more slowly than usual. I feel like a hostage to the weather. Starbucks? Too far away? McDonald’s? They won’t give me skim milk for my iced coffee unless I buy a half-pint container. I don’t even have the energy to attend the Grand Opening of the new Walmart just a mile away.
My mind begins to wander as I lay back on our bed. One possibility, you might suggest, is to go to one of the famous beaches and just sit under the umbrella and read or write while the ocean breeze comforts me. But, they want $4.00/hour to park at these beaches. And, besides, I’ve tried this approach but neither of us could get our umbrella into the sand deep enough. The answer: I had to go to the nearest Publix store (they’re everywhere) and buy an auger so that we can drill a hole deep enough to support our shade-providing umbrella. We’ll have to wait until our next beach visit to see if that works.
The other issue on my mind is that unlike most other places, we’re paying more for ice than for gas. That doesn’t make sense to me. Water isn’t shipped from the Persian Gulf and refined in New Jersey! Crude oil is. This is just water. Ice runs around $2.50/bag (and lasts about a day). Gas is about $2.09/gallon. I did some mental math and came up with the fact that if we use a bag of ice a day, the cost will be $75.00/month. You could rent a small room in a nice home in a tiny town somewhere in Ohio for that kind of money.
I’d like to look forward to our quiet little dinners in our tent attachment, but that presents yet another issue. We sit at a little table that we bought at an RV store. It has a surface texture that is very slippery. When we used our new Corelle plates, and tried to cut a slice of fish, the plate slides around the table-top, nearly knocking over our plastic wine glasses. I consider putting two adhesive Velcro patches on the table and on the bottom of the plates. They would stay in place for sure. But, if we both picked up our plates at the same time, we’d pick up the table as well. Then the plastic wine glasses would surely fly–as well as the pepper mill and citronella candle–possibly burning a hole in our polyester rug. Or worse…
I’m still laying back on the bed. I’m still a little lethargic, a little listless and more than a little discouraged.
The reason I’m so down is that I recently checked my stats on my WordPress blog site. My readership is falling. I get three or four “likes” on the site. I’ve looked at other bloggers and they get forty or fifty “likes” for writing six sentences on the shoes they’ve chosen for next Friday night.
Soon, I’ll have to turn off the AC ($!) and when I do the temperature will start to climb in nanoseconds. I guess I’ll go out and sit inside our tent. I’d like to put an ice pack on my head to keep cool, but ice is too expensive. And, besides, it would slip off my hair when it begins to melt–which would be immediately.
Maybe if I used Velcro on the ice pack…
This is hilarious!!! … We can relate!!! Another great piece of work Pat!!
Patrick, you are a hoot! You need a cloth table cloth on your table to help things and you need one or two of my coolie neck scarves. They have those great crystals in them so that you soak the scarf a while in water and they swell up like a pregnant woman’s feet! Then you put them on and as the water evaporates you feel cooler. I make them for people and pets. And move up a little north in the state for some better prices and maybe some cheaper prices. Love to you and Mariam.
Patrick, you would appreciate Florida more if you were there in January and February when it is bitter cold and windy here in upstate New York. Last year we went to the Dominican Republic in February and it was heavenly after leaving the snow and wind in NY.
You just started your stay too early!
At any rate we love to read your passages on your trips. You give us a positive lift with all the laughing we do! Jo & Dan
read it for the 2nd time and still laugh – though in one way for you two it is not funny. But does require creativity.
Great insights. Sitting here in Sparta where it is 65 and sunny, the gas is 1.81 and the ice almost free.
And the patriots won. Paul
Patrick, I know I get in the 20’s or so of likes on some of my posts, but I tell ya, those that get 112 for saying nothing astound me. This is the way of art now. It’s truly dead but those like us keep the good stuff going! Keep it up!