I was talking with my friend Jesse over the weekend. Jesse lives in Seattle. Like many of my friends who live in metropolises (Doug in New York, Fearless in Atlanta, Dan in LA, et al 'cause this list is boring), he asked me, “Dude, why do you live in Tampa?”
It seems that my friends think that Tampa is not a sophisticated town, that it is crude, full of rednecks, crazed minorities and drug addicts.
And they are right.
That's why I live in Tampa.
You see, the bar is low down here. In many of your more sophisticated cities, I'm the kind of guy that gets arrested for bringing a liquor drink into a chicken and waffles place, or for getting drunk and randomly breaking parts of a street, or for wiping my nose with a cab driver. These are the kinds of things that get you in trouble in alleged sophisticated cities. However, in Tampa, I am three things that are revered by the authorities: white, college educated and employed. (Now, don't make me out to be racist just 'cause most of the world is.)
In honor of my love for the city in which I live, I have taken eight internet pages from the local news medium down here and commented on them. Seven of these are from this morning and one is from Friday. So, basically, this is a sliver of one day's local news in the area that I call home.
With writing like this, it's a wonder the local tourism bureau hasn't snapped me up.
A teenager stabbed another teenager at a little league game in West Tampa. That's awesome. Fortunately, as the arresting officer pointed out, they weren't wielding knives over the game itself, but rather over a personal matter that had nothing to do with baseball. So, at least they know the value of sportsmanship.
This 31 year old YMCA employee got two underage girls drunk and then stabbed one in the chest nine times in Lakeland, Florida, just twenty miles east of Tampa. Sadly, this doesn't surprise me in the slightest. There's nothing to do in Lakeland.
This central Tampa woman attacked a man with a machete. Fortunately, he survived because he defended himself. With a baby stroller. Seriously, how many times do you look in your local paper and see a five sentence article that actually features the words “machete” and “baby stroller”? I love this town.
In St. Petersburg (just across the bay from Tampa), an eighteen year-old spawn from the fiery pits of hell actually molested a two year old boy. Folks, even I can't write a joke about that kind of nastiness.
The Coast Guard used boats and a helicopter to search for a sixty year-old Indian Rocks Beach woman who had been reported missing after going jet skiing. Later, police found her at a friend's house. Snorting coke and jamming death metal. (Okay, so I made that last part up.)
In central Tampa, a South Carolina based company will soon begin building a thousand-unit apartment complex. On a landfill.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Enough said.
And of course, it wouldn't be the Tampa Bay area if there wasn't a ten-foot alligator messing with a Polk County paper route. The sad thing here, really, is that this made the news at all. These truck drivers were total wusses. I mean a ten foot alligator? That's lunch around these parts.
So there you have it. Here in Tampa, I am not a menace, a threat or even an asshole. Hell, I'm not even a ten-foot alligator. This is why cops pull me over for speeding and let me go with their apologies, why Tampa women actually call me a sweetheart and a nice guy (well, some of them, anyway) and why I haven't been fired yet.
The bar is so low in this town, the people are so scummed up down here, that I am actually an above average member of my local society.
And I like to leave places better than I found them.
And that, in addition to the lack of winter, is why I love Tampa Bay.