Hey, new Tampa Bay residents: Summer is coming and no one will be spared
Hope you like a sweaty upper lip.
Storm clouds roll in to Clearwater Beach, Sunday, August 15, 2021 in Clearwater.
Storm clouds roll in to Clearwater Beach, Sunday, August 15, 2021 in Clearwater. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Apr. 5|Updated Apr. 6

The following first appeared in Stephinitely, a weekly newsletter from columnist Stephanie Hayes featuring a bonus column and behind-the-scenes chatter. To get it in your inbox every Monday, subscribe here.

Have you noticed the weekends have been packed with adorable, outdoorsy things to do? Festivals, concerts, art walks, bike tours, spring break layabouts, frenzied attempts to breathe in the wonders of life. Plus, Easter is on the way, bringing myriad egg hunts, grassy knolls and even more deception.

Deception, you say? Yes. Lies, tomfoolery, pretense, antics, escapades, horseplay! A bunch of newcomers are about to have a rude awakening that begins at the crest of the hairline and ends, wetly, at the shoes. It will not smell good. I am just a messenger.

See, people are pouring into Tampa Bay the way the Devil’s Juice pours into a chalice on a Friday night. Pick your source; they all show folks flocking here from other states and cities in Florida. Redfin recently named Tampa the No. 3 city in the country people want to move to, after Miami and Phoenix. It’s reflected in home values and the fact that buying or renting involves a deposit of $6,000,000 and solving a warlock’s riddles three.

But back to the lies! Organizations are squeezing spring festivals into the Last Few Bearable Days. There is a breeze. The nights are lovely. People are posting captions that read, “We live where you vacation!” which is overused, please try again. They are happy, though. No one is getting divorced. Literally no one. It’s science.

If you moved here in the winter, please know it’s about to come crashing down, and you soon will awake in a hell of your own design, like that movie in which Jennifer Lopez gets lost inside Vincent D’Onofrio’s head, and he’s a serial killer with very small teeth, but she finds out he’s really just a damaged boy, and it’s kind of sad but also freaky and she wears lots of flowy garments and there are, like, cow parts and abundant velvet drapes. Yeah, that one. Florida’s like that.

This is the subtropics, friends. These cute little rains we’ve been having? They’re coming every day, just in time to sabotage your commute or errands or chalice of Devil’s Juice. It’s also important to note that it can be raining on one side of the street and not the other, which is key for planning the location of your impending divorce.

The good news is, you’ll soon figure out which part of your patio is slightly sloped, because the standing water will be there for six months in the spot where you had cute string light dinners in March. Around August, you will realize your pressure washer from Costco has rusted in the shed. Watch out for the flies!

We’ll need rain in order to cool things off, though. The average temperature in July is 90, which might not sound that bad if you’ve come from a place that involves special shoes to walk in snow. But — say it with me now — it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Hope you like swimming, all the time.

Wear makeup? No, you don’t. Not anymore.

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Oh, right, hurricane season. That starts in June and goes through November, and while most days will pass without a blip, you will be gripped by fear approximately 12 percent of the time. Then you will cost out hurricane shutters and choose to head back inside Vincent D’Onofrio’s head because it’s more pleasant and affordable there.

Florida has many fine qualities, of course, which is why everyone is coming here. It’s a laid-back lifestyle, people are (mostly) friendly, serotonin is high, and I’ve heard rumors that some people even enjoy the sensation of being physically hot. More research is needed.

This is merely a warning to start preparing now, physically, mentally, spiritually, and in terms of bike shorts to put underneath sundresses to prevent chafing. Once you accept the fact that your electric bill will cost one third of your mortgage and that you will be ugly, repellent and damp to the touch until September, you will truly be a Floridian. Welcome.

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