It is America’s male genitalia (really–look at a map), and it regularly ejaculates its sperm of lunacy across our great land. It is an uncomfortable mix of gray hairedness to the south and redneckedness to the north, meeting in the middle in a mutant mishmash of lifesized cartoon characters and abused whales.
It has given us George Bush, the president and Jeb Bush, the candidate and George Zimmerman, the walking police blotter. It is a drain on our Social Security and Medicare budgets. It is home to some of the most misguided and idiotic laws in the country. And now that you can fly directly to Cuba without a stop in Miami, it has no use whatsoever.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, the state will be under water by the end of the century, but, really, I don’t see why the rest of us have to wait that long. Especially now that Florida is unleashing a new breed of horror upon us.
Actually, two of them.
First we have giant snails. Giant African snails, to be exact. Evidently they arrived in Miami four years ago, smuggled into the country hidden inside huge bags of cocaine. But they’ve moved to the suburbs, and they’re spreading at, well, a snail’s pace.
They are described as “giant,” but the largest one so far has measured seven inches, which, frankly, doesn’t sound terrifying. I lived in San Diego in the late 70’s, and we had a snail problem, and we left saucers of beer out on our lawns because that’s what they told us to do. Supposedly, the snails would be attracted to the beer and crawl into it and dissolve, or die of cirrhosis or something. (What did I know? I was from New York.) Granted, those were cute little snails. You’d leave for work in the morning, and you’d see a couple at the base of an exterior wall, and you’d come home at night and they’d be about ankle high. In other words, you could easily catch them if you really wanted to and put them in some garlic. They weren’t like the snails we had in New York City, which were not cute, and moved really fast, and were actually cockroaches, an entirely different genus, but similar to snails in that they both crunch when you step on them.
Where was I?
Right, the giant African snails of Florida.
Why can’t they use the same approach in Florida that we used in San Diego, only scaled up? They could leave kegs on their lawns.
Well, it turns out that these gargantuan gastropods are a menace for reasons other than their size. In fact, Florida authorities have already spent $11 million trying to eradicate the beshelled behemoths because they eat rat feces. (The snails, not the authorities.)
At this point, I’d believe almost any lamebrained idea that comes out of Florida, but this seems excessively moronic even for a state with laws that ban public singing while attired in a swimsuit and the wearing of strapless gowns by men.*
I understand that some members of Florida’s government may have a vendetta against illegal immigrants, but why would you want to deport Africans who help rid your state of rat poop? Not only that, but the snails have been known to suck the stucco off houses, and, frankly, I firmly believe the world could use a lot less stucco.**
So what do Floridians have against these loitering leviathans? Well, there’s this: eating the rat feces turns the snails into hosts for a parasitic worm which can cause meningitis in humans.
So the moral of this story is:
- Don’t eat rat feces.
- Don’t eat giant African snails that have eaten rat feces.
- Don’t pet an armadillo in Florida.
That last one obviously has nothing to do with snails, unless armadillos consume rat-feces-eating snails. No, it’s just that Florida is trying to get rid of everything with shells, including 94 year old Lydia Neese of Coconut Creek, who creates miniature dioramas inside conch shells and sells them at a roadside stand outside the Indian casino.
Just kidding. Naturally, the armadillos are dangerous because they cause leprosy.
I know, you don’t hear much about leprosy anymore, but there have been nine cases in Florida this year, and authorities are blaming armadillos. “Keep your distance from armadillos,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center who is based at the Nashville facility because he is afraid to live in Florida. “Don’t play with them, don’t eat them and don’t keep them as pets.”
I’m not quite sure how I would play with an armadillo even if I wanted to. I can’t really imagine one chasing a frisbee, can you?
In any case, I think I speak for everyone when I say that Florida should keep its snails, its armadillos, and its rat feces to itself.
Also, that water can’t rise fast enough.
P.S. Happy birthday to my darling daughter.
**Also “stucco-sucking snails” is a great tongue twister.