There is a huge population of retired people in Florida. I am, of course, being politically correct when I say "retired people". I'm actually mean that Florida has a huge population of old, wrinkly people who will sometimes forget that they're driving - even though they're in the middle of of an intersection and have just run over a Guatemalan guy on a bicycle.
But here's the advantage to this skewed surplus of wrinkly people in Florida: being 40 years-old in Florida is like being 20 anywhere else. And we middle-aged people take full advantage of that down here. We drive around listening to Ting Tings songs way too loud. We drink like college freshmen and we curse the old people who just don't "get us."
The only thing that spoils the illusion is when we run into actual young people in Florida. A few weeks ago,for instance, I was driving through the supermarket parking lot when I locked eyes with a young woman with tan skin.
Because I'm married to an easily-riled woman with a formidable right hook, I am unusually good at not noticing women. When I'm with my wife, in fact, I could walk past a naked Monica Bellucci and never move my gaze from the floor.
But my natural instincts were overcome at the supermarket for a few reasons. First, this particular woman sported what car enthusiasts might refer to as "aftermarket parts". If I make take the euphemism further, someone had mistakenly ordered truck parts for the young woman's sub-compact chassis.
Further, thieves had clearly stolen this woman's clothes and replaced them with tiny, midget versions that did not properly cover the delicate, tasteful tattoo that graced the small of her back. Also, I was looking for a parking space, so my guard was down.
In any case, I locked eyes with the twenty-something woman. A little embarrassed, I smiled, which was intended to say, "Excuse me for staring. My eyes are just passing through". Or something to effect.
I expected her to smile back and shrug. Instead, she gave me an eye roll. This, in turn, gave me an unwanted epiphany which caused me to hit the brakes.
"Oh, just freakin' terrific," I said. "I'm a creepy old guy."
My wife off-handedly confirmed this a few days ago, while my family munched on donuts at a table outside of a Dunkin' Donuts.
"Did you notice," I said as I sipped decaf coffee, "that our cashier looked exactly like Phoebe Cates? The resemblance was amazing. I almost asked her if anyone else had mentioned that before."
"You mean Phoebe Cates, the actress from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High?," my said wife answered. "Yeah, I wouldn't do that."
"Why?" I asked. "She might find it flattering."
"Hmmm. She might find it flattering that she reminds you, a guy twenty-five years her senior, of an actress whose most famous scene involves playing an underage high school student who walks in on an older guy masturbating to the image of her in a bathing suit?"
"You make an excellent point," I conceded.
"She's probably never heard of Phoebe Cates. That would be like a senior citizen coming up to me and saying that I remind him of Bette Davis or Lana Turner. It's just creepy."
"Enough," I said. "You can stop making sense anytime now."
And yet, the reminders of my newly-discovered creepiness keep coming.
Yesterday, I sat in my car at a stoplight. I looked out the passenger window, lost in thought, when a car rolled up next me and stopped exactly in my sight line. The blonde driver turned to her left, saw me staring in her direction and quickly eye-rolled me.
I lost it.
"Hey," I called. "I'm not looking at you. I was thinking about lunch. I thought I saw a french fry on our dashboard left over from a trip to McDonald's."
She didn't turn around.
She didn't turn around.
"In fact," I yelled," I'm totally gay and completely uninterested in you. Seriously. I was checking out the hot guy on the other side of you. You're in the way of my...hot...guy..checking...stuff."
The blonde did not look around. But my wife did turn around to face my kids in the backseat.
"You know Dad's just joking right?"