Here & Now
I saw a hot dog standing on the corner the other day. No, really. It did have humanesque arms and legs, but I’m pretty sure it was a hot dog because its torso was wrapped in a bun, and there were two generous squiggles of mustard in just the right places. It seemed quite agitated, gesticulating wildly at random cars stopped at the red light. It seemed to be pointing north, presumably in the direction of its missing onions and relish. I wanted to learn more, but alas, the light changed.
I believe in stopping at red lights, and not just because a monster truck recently chose not to stop, transforming my car into a small wad of aluminum foil. I love red lights because without them we’d miss some really good stuff. Especially here on the Gulfshore, where nothing is quite, shall we say, normal.
Once, at a red light, I glanced toward the growling motorcycle in the lane beside me. Only it wasn’t a motorcycle. It was an eight-foot-long fiberglass shark. At the wheel—or dorsal fin—was a sizzling-hot Biker Chick. The light changed to green, but for about four seconds, everybody forgot to go. When we finally did move, we were all smiling.
If you pay attention, the red-light phenomenon can make you laugh out loud. Take the big, ugly construction site on U.S. 41 that you studied at the red light on the way to the office this morning. Annoying, all that dirt, right? No problem. A fortuitous red light on the way home will save you some serious whiplash, because by tonight that site will be gone. Actually, it’s still there, but now it’s elegantly hidden behind a gently rolling grass-covered berm, lushly landscaped with a mature, six-foot hibiscus hedge. In full bloom. In the shadows of 20-foot Royal Palm trees. Life is short—why wait for stuff to actually grow?
In fact, why leave it to Mother Nature once the green stuff is in place? I suggest we take a cue from the glitzy residential enclaves on the other coast, (you know where I mean), where sodding is out and permanent turf landscaping is in. I’m talking emerald green movie-set lawns—no bugs, no irrigation, no patchy spots and no weeds. No mowing, of course, although a light vacuuming is recommended to fluff it up before a party.
My new buddy Bruce McNall, landscape architect on the Collier County Zoning and Land Development staff, didn’t exactly say yes to the concept for our area, but he’s the first to admit it would be the ultimate in xeriscaping.
As for green, look for plenty of it on Saturday, March 14, when about 40,000 people wearing that color will show up in Old Naples to honor Maewyn Succat. At least that’s what his parents named him. That fourth century saint who renamed himself Patrick was not, in fact, born in Ireland. He also did not drive any snakes out of the land (because there never were any). Nevertheless, he turned out to be Ireland’s most famous evangelist. Snakes, historians say, were a euphemism for Pagans.
Purists may want to know that the official color of St. Patrick is a teal green, not emerald. Emerald is the wardrobe color of choice for leprechauns, fairies and immortals. It also is favored by people trying to encourage their grass to grow. Which, if you have been paying attention, may soon no longer be required here in Paradise.
Still, you’ll be sorry if you don’t wear a wee touch o’ the green (teal or emerald) for Naples’ spectacular St. Patrick’s Day parade. I promise you the dancin’est, rockin’est, jivin’est high school marching bands on the planet.
I plan to prepare my feet for a long day at the parade with a little ichthyotherapy. It’s the latest thing in pedicures, don’t you know, in which a team of 125 doctors remove the dead layer of skin cells, leaving my feet silky soft. Yes, I did say 125 doctors, just for me. Technically, they’re, well, fish. I’ll just slip my freshly washed feet into a personal tub filled with a school of lunch-deprived garra rufa, a Middle Eastern hot springs fish known as "doctor fish."
Apparently, the little darlings literally nibble you to smoothness. My sources swear it’s like having your feet kissed all over. A Nibbles Pedicure, including all the kisses you can handle, costs $50 at Glow Skin Care, Fort Myers, (239) 768-9333. As I may already have mentioned in passing, there’s nothing particularly normal about the Gulfshore.
Speaking of passing, I drove down Pine Ridge Road in Naples today, past the scene of the aforementioned dancing hot dog. Alas, all I found was an egg—sunny side up—and two strips of bacon. So as soon as the light changed, I turned in to inquire, and the egg (aka Jason David) directed me around the corner to a very nice little diner called Crooker’s (1485 Pine Ridge Road). Specialties of the house? Chicago hot dogs and, of course, breakfast.
In honor of all things Irish, I’ve taken a few liberties with my favorite Irish prayer:
May the road rise up to meet you,
With a few strategically placed red lights
So you don’t miss the drama playing out around you.
May the rains fall soft upon your perfect, never-needs-mowing lawn,
But never on parade day.
May the sun shine warm upon your shoulders, and your feet be nibbled-smooth.
And may you remember to savor every moment.