Terror in Florida

by Eric

I feel I was a mostly typical boy growing up, in the sense that I possessed both an unbelievable amount of energy along with a lack of great spatial awareness. I could run around the soccer field, get to the ball and score goals with the best of them, but if I wasn’t paying particular attention I could also just as well trip over my own feet.

The latter had never been exemplified better than the summer my grandma took my sister and I on a road trip to Florida to visit family. One of the most memorable parts of this trip was my discovery of Robotech and the springboard to 80s anime, but that’s for a different story. The other two memories were these.

That’s Not a Nut!

We went to Busch Gardens for one out our outings. My grandma had given me some change for the gumball-like machines that dispensed peanuts intended to feed to the squirrels. Years later I discovered how you were supposed to feed the squirrels was by tossing a peanut over to them, then watch them grab it and shell it right in front of your eyes. From a reasonable distance. I must have missed that part, as I immediately discovered that once the squirrels knew you had spent the 25¢ on some peanuts, they would brazenly come right up to you with their paws stretched out for handouts. “Hmmm. I wonder if they’ll take the peanut from my hand?” There sure did!! “Hmm. I wonder if I can pull on the peanut when they try to take it from me? Play tug of war”. I sure did!

“Oh man. I’m out of peanuts. Maybe I can trick the squirrels with my own finger, ala ‘Got your nose!’-style?”

– A very stupid Eric

The stupid squirrel 100% believed that the stupid Eric’s pointer finger held between his thumb and middle finger was a peanut. It grabbed my finger in a startling attempt to run away with it! When I pulled back it was so determined to not lose this prized bit of food that it bit into my finger. Feeling annoyed and not wanting to admit to my grandma I had done this, when she came back to check on me I just said I was out of peanuts and tucked my bleeding finger into my palm. Pretty sure until the day she died she never knew how stupid I had been.. well, THAT time at least.

The Incredibly Real, Exceptionally Accurate, Spiraling Airplane

The second memory was going to a grocery store. Yup, that’s it. We needed food for a few days while staying with aforementioned relatives. I discovered that Florida at the time had very little ice cream and instead mostly had ice milk. Weirdos.. The trip was entirely uneventful. We went to stand in the checkout line, uneventfully. People walked past us.. customers and employees, all uneventfully. In fact this was quite possibly the most boring grocery trip I had ever been on, 1900 miles away from home and after the excitement of a squirrel trying to store me away for the winter.

Well as a kid, especially one who grew up with at a time before iPads and even Gameboy, we made our own fun. Which nine times out of ten involved spinning around in a circle. Sometimes we ran around in a circle. Other times we stayed in one place and just spun. If we really wanted to amp up the experience we could do both simultaneously. Hmm, this seemed like the sort of opportunity that called for both!

Spinning spinning spinning, life couldn’t be better! I mean this is in my top 3 memories from our Florida trip after all!
Spinning. Spinning! SPINNING!


I guess the store clerk stocking the end cap missed the part in the employee manual where it stated

§ 1.a (c) When stocking any display end cap, it is imperative to check all surroundings, particularly for bored young boys spinning around with their arms out like a spiraling airplane. Failure to do so may result in severe injury or death.

The poor guy never saw me coming. Crashing into him like the downed plane I was accurately portraying, I sent the stocker hurtling into the display. Everything came crashing down spilling out onto the grocery floor.

“Arms at your side. They don’t move.”

– Grandma Dennee

My grandma, half in shock, yet half fully expecting to see me in the midst of all of it, came walking the few steps over and simply said to me “Arms at your side. They don’t move.” That was it. She carried the “I am so disappointed in you” look on her face, but my grandma never usually said that; the look was enough. She made me apologize, though interestingly did not make me offer to help clean up. The stocker laughed and said it was fine. Clearly he had been a stupid high energy boy years earlier himself. We checked out, hopped into the car, and upon getting to my great uncle’s place I discovered Robotech.

And that was pretty much that Florida trip in a fake finger-sized nutshell.

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