The Last Gasp
Well, today marks the end of the unofficial beginning of the summer season in most of the country, but for us down here in south Florida, Memorial Day weekend represents the last gasp of our tourist season which began around Halloween. And what a season it was, breaking all records; in fact Florida saw more vacationers in the first quarter of 2015 – 28 million to be exact – than any time in its history. Not surprising, considering the rest of the nation broke records, too, experiencing one of the most brutal winters in recent memory.
Even more eye-opening is the fact one out of seven of these visitors to the Sunshine State, 4.4 million, came from the global LGBT community and were responsible for over a billion dollars to the state’s economy.
But for us locales, the exit of the “el touristos” from New York and Chicago and Atlanta and San Francisco and London and Berlin and Buenos Aires is almost a welcome break. The bars and restaurants on Wilton Drive will now be manageable on a Saturday night, and not Grand Central Station at rush hour (last night I waited in line twenty minutes to get into Hunters, our popular dance club), and those of us who are hookup site or phone app addicts won’t have to deal with those cock-teasing hits from out-of-towners who two weeks before their arrival were drooling on their keyboards about making it with us and then are never heard of again. Think lying naked next to an equally naked guy at one of the clothing optional gay guesthouses may have something to do with it?
As for me, I’ll be closing up my home, hurricane shelters in place (it is the theoretically the start of hurricane season though we haven’t been hit in almost a decade – thank you global warning, I think), and will throwing my three little critters, Bebe, Annie and Pete, in the back of my Honda Element and head up to the home in rural Northeast PA I co-own with my partner to spend the summer as a baseball widower to his Mets obsession as I work on my next book, a love story.
No, I won’t miss the Ramrod’s underwear night with all its cliques of drunk, obnoxious twinks, nor the sex club Slammer’s eight buck specials where lecherous old men in Bermuda shorts and baggy T shirts strut around like peacocks thanks to Viagra, nor even our heavenly gay beach, Sebastian, where the sand is so hot now it can blister the soles of your feet if you forgot your floppies.
But I have to admit it’s nice to know when those fall winds begin a-blowing back North and everyone else will be saying a sad farewell to the warm weather come Labor Day, I’ll be back on 95, returning to my little world where Summer never ends.