Ahhh, Florida. You wacky, weird, wonderful state! There’s no denying that Florida gets more than its fair share of crazy news stories, so in honor of Lisa’s debut novel, Cardiac Arrest—set in a kitschy retirement community in upscale Milano, Florida—we wanted to share some of our favorites!
If you’re a mystery writer and you write something that nobody believes would actually happen, just tell them it happened in Florida. Suddenly? Totally plausible. That’s because Florida is known for its shenanigans, and a simple Google search of “weird Florida news” can yield enough results to inspire an infinite number of Carl Hiaasen novels. Take, for example, the story of the man who tried to trade an alligator for beer, which, you know, makes sense when you’re thirsty and you happen to have an extra alligator on hand. Or the guy who called 911 after a strip club refused to allow him to bring a kitten in to get a lap dance. (Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only barely.) And then there’s the guy who called 911 eighty times in a row demanding that the cops bring him Kool-Aid, burgers and weed. You’d think after about ten tries, he’d get the hint, but not him! He kept calling until he was arrested. Bonus detail: Once they put him in the cruiser, he started chewing on the foam attached to the metal caging. That’s one serious case of the munchies!
Floridians are nothing if not misunderstood. Sorry Marla, but I personally think that it’s quite easy to mistake 911 for the number to your favorite delivery spot. And what decent restaurant doesn’t have hamburgers, Kool-Aid and weed? So misunderstood. Just like the poor man who was forced to call 911 when the meanies at Taco Bell refused to sell him a taco. Apparently they require a car to go through the drive-thru. Who knew? Obviously a mistake any of us could make. And I personally think it was very sweet of that lovely woman to double-check exactly where one should urinate when one is lost in the woods. This is not something they cover in school and it obviously should be. Like I said, I don’t know why some Floridians are so misunderstood. I do know one thing though: Florida’s 911 operators definitely need a raise. Stat.
Okay, I admit I love the Fake or Florida game show segments on Late Night with Seth Meyers. And I’m also a huge fan of Carl Haaisen’s and Tim Dorsey’s books because I love their bad guys. They always have awesome, airtight rationales for whatever crazy plans they cook up—and they all seem to get a pass because they’re in Florida. In my heart of hearts, though, I think maybe The Sunshine State gets a bum rap for weird news. I’m sure we could give them a run for their money here in New Hampshire. Maybe people outside of Florida are jealous because they don’t get enough UV rays. Anyway, it’s not a crime story, but I loved the story about the wrong beauty queen getting crowned. (She was replaced by the runner-up 6 days later.)
When I was at the Bouchercon mystery conference, I overheard someone say there’s a book called “A Florida Man,” a collection of the real-life stupid crimes and stories that start with “A Florida Man.” I searched for the book and am sad to report that it doesn’t exist. (Maybe the person meant that there should be a book called “A Florida Man.”) But what does exist is a Twitter account, @_FloridaMan. And what an account it is! A veritable repository of dumbbells doing dumb things. While it’s hard to pick a favorite – is it “Florida Man Poses as Police Officer, Pulls Over Real Deputy?” “Police Arrest Wanted Man After He Buttdials 911?” – I think I have to go with “Florida Man Gets DUI While Riding Motorized Wheelchair.” http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/weird/2015/10/13/florida-man-gets-dui-while-driving-motorized-wheelchair/73869952/.
The expression, “you can’t make this s$%!t up,” was never more appropriate. But that applies to pretty much all Florida Man stories.