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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Independence Day?

All weekend long I've been hearing the Beverly Hillbillies theme song in my head, replacing the narrator's closing line, Swimming pools...Movie stars, with Red tide...Shark attacks, just before that famous banjo solo cranks up.

Nobody was swimming this weekend. Besides the viscous, respiratory irritating algal bloom, Boca Grande, our southern neighboring island, hosted the third Florida shark attack of the year (season? week?) Everybody used to snicker at ol' paranoid me when I wouldn't swim out past the sandbar -- that's where the big ones like to cruise. I was sharp enough to notice that most restaurants in the neighborhood have giant sharks mounted on their walls, advertising, "Caught in Boca Grande Pass," or some other such local swimming hole. And what about infamous Old Hitler, the legendary monster hammerhead who haunts these waters especially during tarpon season? Is there a creepier fish alive? I'm not paranoid, I'm just emotionally scarred from seeing, Jaws.

We said goodbye to our island nextdoor neighbor yesterday. She sold her house and two Gulf front lots and is hightailing it south of the border. Her buyer is going to make us an offer on our place. She was planting seeds, calling it a "very attractive offer" (it wasn't) and reminding us of the real estate bubble (which I believe South Florida waterfront property is immune from.) So who is this mysterious buyer with deep pockets? Jorge told me it was a representative for a Jamaican religious group planning on building a retreat compound out here. My first thoughts were there'd probably be lots of good music and spliffs galore, neither of which I'm opposed to. Let's see, I've been with Jorge for twenty years. You'd think I'd be wise to him by now. The truth is actually worse. He's an investor planning to build a resort of rental suites, "lock-outs," within a gargantuan, twenty-one bedroom single-family unit. He's talking ferry service, swimming pool, and buying ten waterfront homes to create a land base. I went to the second annual home owners meeting out on the island this weekend, and let me tell you, those people are rabidly anti-any kind of development. Most everybody out there comes from a line of redneck Crackers and loves it the way it is, because it has not been ruined like so much else of our beloved state. Water and sewer? No, thanks. Pave a road to help emergency services' access? Nah, don't need it. Garbage service? Nope, we'll haul our own. This guy is going to have a huge fight on his hands. Not to mention, there are several protected species living on those two lots.Twilly Spree and Mullet Fingers, two of my literary heroes. My girls are already planning to chain themselves to bulldozers. Our property is key to his plan as we are the contiguous link between the house and the vacant lots. The biggest problem is that now, as the majority owner of our five parcel subdivision, he could make it very expensive for us and the other single owner if he begins improving common areas, walkways, docks, etc., as we are liable to each pay a one-fifth share. He could squeeze us out. Even if he decides our piece is not critical to his development scheme, who wants a bunch of strangers tramping past your house all hours of the day and night, or a ferry pulling up to your dock, blocking your once beautiful view, or scads of tourists on the formerly deserted beach where you could once wear a bikini and not worry about the tummy roll or the dimples on your bum? With a big enough offer, walking would be a little less painful.

Jorge spoke with Big Spender on the phone this morning and has a meeting tentatively scheduled for next week to determine if this guy's got a viable plan or if he's in outer space. He did make the comment that his other option was to build two homes and sell them, but, "Who would want to live out there?" so I'm thinking it's 'outer space.' Once I get confirmation that the closing is completed, this afternoon, I'm sending out a red alert to the homeowners association. The coconut telegraph will be a-buzz.

It turns out I was afraid of the wrong kind of shark attack.

Y'all come back now, y'hear?

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