I stepped out of the house one morning last week and let the light breeze take over my thoughts.
Why, I thought as I looked at a picture of snow-weary Maine, would you want to be anywhere else? Of course, you have to do more than just soak in these unbelievable December days. You have to live here. You have to experience all — the good and bad — that our community has to offer. So here's my annual. …
You haven't lived in Tampa Bay until you have:
… made out under the lighted trees on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg.
… driven the Skyway, Howard Frankland and Gandy bridges on a single day.
… seen the University of Tampa minarets from a balcony at SkyPoint.
… imposed a personal ban on Hogan Family stories.
… reveled with friends on the Yacht StarShip.
… seen the panhandler on St. Petersburg's 38th Avenue with the sign that says, "I'm freezing my (butt) off."
… laughed at people with boats stuck on that Bayshore sandbar at Gasparilla.
… purchased Joe Maddon glasses.
… gone to the Lowry Park Zoo to see a certain animal and discovered that it was loaned out.
… come to the realization patas monkeys can swim.
… been jailed for having a brown lawn.
… heard B.K. Jackson play the national anthem at a Rays game.
… argued who has the better-looking women, International Plaza or West Shore.
… had bacon during happy hour at Malio's.
… watched your teacher get fired and blame it on being a wizard.
… been entertained by the Black Nativity at St. Petersburg's Palladium.
… said, "What was Buddy Johnson thinking?"
… seen Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio shopping at the Publix on Neptune.
… had fun at St. Pete Beach's Undertow — after managing to find a place to park.
… sampled a Hofbrau at the World of Beer in Westchase.
… gotten lost trying to navigate through the Memorial/Veterans/Courtney Campbell/Spruce Street/TIA interchange.
… said, "I wish I could just take the subway."
… watched a football game at Plant High's Dads Stadium.
… seen your local megachurch pastor shopping at Neiman Marcus.
… seen a "mindfreak" make a cheesy escape from an imploding Clearwater hotel.
… watched a catfight in the SideBerns bathroom.
… talked politics at Ybor City's Tre Amici @ the Bunker.
… asked, "When does the Ikea store open?" (Summer 2009).
… had vacationing friends turn your home into a Motel 6.
… found a book in the two-story Barnes & Noble at the Shops at Wiregrass.
… noted that Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is just south of the giant Confederate flag.
… had a pizookie at the BJ Brewhouse.
… sat at the downtown Hyatt bar during the fetish convention.
… witnessed Tampa's burgeoning downtown nightlife while enjoying a pint at Taps.
… rowed through the mangroves at Fort De Soto Park.
… had the bruschetta at Bar Louie's in International Plaza.
… devoured a Greek omelette while sitting in the Elvis booth at Nicko's Diner.
Enjoy it all, Tampa Bay.
That's all I'm saying.