Thanks to a series of events that led me to meet my fiancée, I now live in America’s weirdest state. California may have held this title once, but now it’s the Sunshine State that sets the bar for weird stories. Perhaps it’s because it functions as America’s Drainpipe, a place where people go to escape a bad past, only to exercise the same bad life-decision-making. It might be its history of frontier thinking; historian Gary Mormino, author of Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams says “fierce individualism, gun violence, a weak state government, and rapacious attitudes toward the environment—defined and continue to define Florida.” The subtropical climate and low cost of living make it attractive to a lot of people, but especially those living on the edge of society or sanity (I imagine it’s much easier to live in a van down by the river here as opposed to Toronto). As a result, whenever a weird headline comes up, many of us — myself included — do this check: Did it happen in Florida?, and more often than not, it did.
Florida’s starting off 2015 a little too Florida for its own good. Let’s hope that it’s taking a page from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ traditional playbook: starting out with a bang, and then petering out pretty quickly.
The best-known Florida Man story of 2015 so far is that of Christian Gomez (pictured above in an undated photo), a 23 year-old who was allegedly so incensed that his mother made him do some chores that he cut off her head. The only thing more distressing than this news was a discussion on Facebook by some local friends who, when first seeing his picture, thought it looked a lot like someone they knew, and that the decapitation sounded like something he’d do.
Gomez was diagnosed with schizophrenia three years ago, so discipline alone may not have helped him. If you’re of that school of parenting that thinks the occasional spanking is warranted and want to ensure that you don’t get out of control, you can always call for police supervision. That’s what one Okeechobee County dad did when dealing with a mouthy 12 year-old girl, and a deputy came over, observed the paddlin’, and left. That’s not all that surprising: Disney culture is pervasive here, and many little girls here have been programmed by Disney Princesses into become little entitlement monsters.
We’ll have to see if the spanking — and especially being observed by a cop while it happens — got through to the kid, or if she becomes a “Florida Woman” story a few years down the line.
The most famous Florida couple of the moment are Amber Campbell and John Arwood, who were apparently trespassing and got chased into a closet where they spent two days believing they were trapped inside, only to later be told that the closet locks from the inside and that they could’ve left any time they wanted. Arwood called 911 on his mobile phone. When the cops came to free them, they also found poop (presumably the couple’s) and copper scouring pads, which are sometimes used as crack-smoking paraphernalia.
And finally, on a sad note, there this story: As gay marriage approaches, several counties’ clerks opt out of wedding ceremonies. Because they’re not allowed to discriminate anymore, a number of court clerks are simply refusing outright to hold courthouse marriage ceremonies for anyone, straight or gay.
By the bye, if you don’t know my stance on same-sex marriage, you might want to read this post of mine from 2007: A Craigslist Wedding.
In spite of all the local wackiness, I’m staying. I’m marrying a lovely lady with a nice family, I’ve got a good job, the climate’s pretty nice, and the locals seem all right with a guy who often walks about with an accordion with a fair bit of the time.