Post-"season" – which ends at Easter or Passover, whichever comes later – is the ideal time to be down here: suddenly the roads clear up a bit (all of those Long Island drivers have gone back to Long Island), you can actually get into restaurants without waiting half an hour, lines in the supermarkets are bearable. It would be just grand – except for the bloody weather.
Here's a soflo phenom that puzzles & irks me not a little bit: South Florida is the world's capital – yes, I so assert, the world's capital – of valet parking. You can get valet parking not merely at restaurants, but at shopping malls, at concerts, hell, for all I know at church. Our Fair University is thinking of setting up a valet parking system.
But in most of the places I've lived (you know, the civilized world), valet parking works like this: You come up to your destination, you see that all the handy spots are taken, & you hand your car over to some spotty 17-year-old who drives it off somewhere in the next county & then sprints back. Sure, you have no idea where the car's gone – it's probably out back of the K-Mart down the street – but hell, you only shell out the money for a valet when all the obvious & handy spots are already taken.
In Florida, however, it works a bissle differently: Here, after the obligatory (& wholly rational) handicapped parking spaces, all of the prime parking – that is, everything within eyeshot of the restaurant – is reserved for valet parking: roped off, coned, razor-wired. So the valet drops the car into a spot about 12 feet from the entrance & is back at his desk before you've had a chance to give your name to the maitre d'. If you want to be so primitive as to park your own car, you wind up scrounging for space around the dumpsters two buildings down.
Is it like this everywhere these days? How out of it am I?
Okay, maybe it's not a good idea to be reading Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, China Miéville's Perdido Street Station, & Modern Painters I at the same time. My head is in a kind of genial Protestant preacher-"did you ever notice the angles at which snow clings to the Jungfrau"-steampunk-slasher place right now.