From crossing bridges to chasing bugs, acts of Tampa Bay friendship
As Florida Thanksgiving approaches, how to show a local friend you care.
Have you sat in traffic on the Howard Frankland lately? You're a true Florida friend.
Have you sat in traffic on the Howard Frankland lately? You're a true Florida friend. [ DOUGLAS CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Nov. 8

We’ve officially crossed into November, the most boring month, the month in which we grip candy canes while awaiting the more showy winter holidays.

The theme for November is being “thankful” and “kind,” which is quite the whiplash from October. Just about a week ago, the move was to dress like the string-haired ghost of a girl who perished in a well to terrify the neighborhood children while, confoundingly, handing them miniature candy bars. No wonder kids are so confused all the time.

Now, society dictates we don shades of burnt orange and hug the cousins who once left us alone in the woods during hide and seek. It’s tough to get into that autumn spirit, especially in Florida, where the high is still topping 80 degrees most days. But there are plenty of ways to display friendship, Tampa Bay style.

Lightning round: Sharing your beach blanket because a friend’s towel is too small; going to the beach at all on a holiday weekend; towing a kayak when your pal is too tired to paddle; lending out your expensive titanium dioxide sunscreen; inviting a friend of a friend to spend the day on the boat owned by a friend of a friend.

In-depth round:

Flight transport

Back in the late 1900s, traditional rush hour would kick off around 5 p.m. But in this pandemic era of hybrid work, have you noticed that rush hour seems to be always? Hop on Interstate 275 in either direction at, say, 3 p.m., and it’s like Dolly Parton is hovering above shrieking, “WHAT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING” as everyone listens to Microsoft Teams meetings in the car. Fridays are even more chaotic. On Friday, the new American workweek ends between 1 and 2 p.m., and happy hour starts at 2:30.

This brings us to our first act of Tampa Bay friendship: dropping anyone at Tampa International Airport, or for that matter, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, during any version of rush hour. While saving your friend $40 on Uber, you are shaving four days off your life. This move cements your friendship as permanent and true, and it comes with reciprocal benefits. Do not be afraid to redeem your coupon. Your bud can listen to the sales meeting on mute while a fender-bender backs up the Howard Frankland for 2 miles.

Pest control

People who live up North do not understand how common it is for Floridians to witness the cast of “Jurassic Park” scurrying across our floors. Pestilence is a fact of life here, like 30-second thunderstorms and shirtless men on piers holding exotic reptiles. But who among us will do the dirty work?

I suggest making this arrangement up front, in writing. My wedding vows, which are framed on a wall in our home, state that my husband will adhere to outdated gender roles when it comes to catching insects. In my mind, this amounts to a binding contractual agreement that would sway any jury, so when I see a dopey lizard or menacing cockroach skitter by, the edict is clear. I simply make my spouse an offer he can’t refuse like Vito Corleone, sit back and know it’s handled. This is love, friendship and companionship, Florida style.

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Hurricane lodging

Here’s your buzzkill reminder that hurricane season is still not over. Yes, November may be the most boring month, but it also comes with the timeless threat of natural disaster. Lose, lose!

In this time of looking out for our fellow Florida Man, remember to open your home to a buddy in Zone A, a pal in a mobile home, a compatriot on a houseboat. Yes, breaking bread around a too-dry turkey with Uncle Todd who may have a presence on the dark web is one way to check off fall camaraderie. But sharing a cold tin of Chef Boyardee by candlelight is OUR way, Tampa Bay. Say hello to your little friends.

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