RIPPLE EFFECT: Three Sisters Spring near Crystal River in Citrus County
[Times photo: Jamie Francis]
© St. Petersburg Times, published October 31, 1999
Someday -- and that day may come soon, perhaps before the end of hurricane season on Nov. 30 -- you will experience what it means to shop not for taste but for survival. On that day you will find yourself in the supermarket with a cart full of peanuts and a heart full of dread.
Your mind will be a cyclonic whirl of non-perishables: Spaghetti-Os and canned chili, a half-remembered list from a hurricane preparedness guide. You will careen down the bottled-water aisle only to find that the well is dry. The aisles will begin to swarm with people just like you, hoarding the last of the Vienna Sausages.
Then it will happen, that thing you cannot predict.
A young woman without a cart, without a care, will appear before you with the lid popped open on one of those plastic boxes the supermarkets use for their baked goods.
"You look like you need a cookie," she'll say.
She will hold the lemon nut cookie in just such a way that all you can see are her gray eyes glinting over the top. She is not a store employee, she may even be crazy, but you will accept. In that moment, with one hand on your provisions and the other on a cookie, you will relish the dangerous tension between responsibility and abandon.
Long after the storm has passed and you've forgotten its name, you'll remember the girl with the lemon nut cookies in aisle seven.
-- BILL DURYEA
A drifter scratches something into a writing tablet, the muddy tattoo on his forearm bobbing with his urgency. Two teen couples across the aisle sit snugly, kisses still hot on their breath. A cop attacks a plate of pancakes, his back to the wall and his eyes trained on the door. Whole worlds materialize after midnight at the Village Inn in Tampa.
Fin de millennium be damned. In 1999, the all-night diner is the people's answer to the bourgeois cafes of yore.
So abandon the cappuccino one night for a cup of joe. Sink into a sticky vinyl booth. Plunk down a dollar for the waitress' pains. And bear witness to the human spectacle around you, swelling and swilling till daybreak.
N Dale Mabry Highway,
-- KATHRYN WEXLER
The soccer ball skips, then rolls, now seems to be dying, one re-vo-lu-tion at a time. Into the goal. A 6-year-old Pinellas Point girl cups her cheeks. Did I do that?
Now playing at ball fields across Tampa Bay: 20,000 Sharks, Cobras and other sporting creatures. The name of the game is joy.
-- KEVIN McGEEVER
Stepping inside, you take in the rich scent of baking chocolate, sure to cling to your hair and clothes the rest of the afternoon. But you came for the key lime, the only flavor J.J. Gandys sells by the slice ($2.95, please). It's the best in Tampa Bay, if you believe the sign.
You just might. This pie, made with real key limes, wraps your tongue in a satiny tang -- and has just enough kick to remind you that Cracker houses and citrus groves used to stand where the warehouses are now.
J.J. Gandys Pies,
3725 Alt. U.S. 19,
-- EDIE GROSS
The thing is, he walks down Fourth Street every day. No matter what hour you drive by. He's always walking there, on St. Pete's north side.
Maybe he's in his 60s, you don't know.
He lives in that beat hotel.
He's always mumbling to himself. Or coughing. He's the kind of guy, when he coughs, you'd bet it sounds like ice cubes in a blender. Again, you don't know. You never get close enough.
From your car, all you see is, he's always walking to the Amoco for cigarettes, the one on 22nd Avenue. Or he gets eggs from somewhere.
The guy lives on cigarettes and eggs.
He's always mumbling, mad. Furious.
But the thing is: Whenever you honk, whenever you honk and wave?
He always waves back.
-- GINA VIVINETTO