On February 2, 2023

The truth of the matter

By Dom Cioffi

I just spent the past week in Florida with my mother. She’s been returning to the same little community on the Gulf Coast seasonally for over 50 years. Over the years, on the occasions when I’ve visited, the nostalgia of the area has always overwhelmed me.

When I drove in this past week, after not being there for over a decade, I literally had tears in my eyes as the memories of my childhood washed over me.

I first went there around 5 years old. That was when Disney World had just opened, so I was in the first wave of kids to visit the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. I still have several trinkets that I purchased on that initial trip, including a set of Mickey Mouse ears with my name embroidered on the back and an original program guide that’s tucked away somewhere in my attic.

I’ve always loved visiting Florida with its epic sunsets, tranquil palm trees, and endless sunshine. The allure and ambiance never get old.

In particular, the area where we visit also offers wonderful beach combing. After a storm, you never know what might wash up. Sharks’ teeth are one of the most beloved treasures. There’s always an endless supply washing in because one of the planet’s main burial grounds for sharks is just off the coast.

I used to come home with a coffee can full of sharks’ teeth every year I visited. My mother would eventually glue them onto a wooden shark cutout board and then give them away as presents.

There’s also a quaint little village in the area that offers wonderful dining options, drinking establishments, and souvenir shops so you can always bring home a little slice of the Sunshine State.

On this trip, I wasn’t interested in Disney World, souvenirs, or sharks’ teeth. On this trip, I just wanted to hang out with my mom and relax.

I’m lucky in that my mom is pushing 90 and still has an extremely sharp mind and healthy body. But with age comes a host of struggles that you never consider unless you experience them yourself. On this trip I just wanted to be with her; I just wanted to talk, tell stories, and share in the beautiful, lucky life we’ve had together.

While in Florida, my mom stays in a relatively small apartment that is encircled in a courtyard with other retirees. As such, they tend to form a little community to support each other. My mom is one of the older residents, so many of the other folks are good about looking after her.

During the week I was there, she started her mornings off with a short walk with a friend and upon her return, we’d sit and have coffee. We’d chat and watch the news and at some point, find a reason to drive into town, usually for groceries, lunch, or to run an errand.

After returning, I would usually go on my run. Running in Florida this time of year is nice. It’s flat and the temperatures are mild.

I found a 5-mile loop that took me through a massive senior community. It was fun to see all the elders out enjoying their well-earned retirements. I saw very few runners, but the bikers were plentiful.

One thing I did find interesting was, whenever I passed a couple, the husband rarely acknowledged me while the wife was generally cordial and friendly.

I wave or nod my head and smile to everyone I pass regardless of age, gender, or race, and I’ve always found it interesting that certain groups are reliably friendly or unfriendly. 

Normally, in my hometown, every senior is friendly, but in Florida, the men were decidedly different.

I started to ruminate on this point as the days passed and then it finally occurred to me: The men in Florida are mostly on their last leg and may be physically compromised. So, a much younger male, with a full head of hair, and enough energy to actually jog down the street, could pose a threat to their relationship, or sense of self.

I laughed out loud when this thought passed through my head, knowing there was just enough truth to make it humorous, but certainly not enough statistical fact to make it believable.

This week’s feature, “Vengeance,” written, directed, and starring B.J. Novak, also wrestles with truth and facts as one young man travels from New York City to a small Texas town to investigate the death of a one-night stand.

Check this one out if you’re interested a contemporary comedic thriller that imagines a unique scenario ripped from the modern lifestyle of the millennial crowd.

A retaliatory, “B-” for “Vengeance,” now available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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