My Florida Project by Andrew Mungo

Blog entry – Florida Project


By Andrew Mungo 11/27/17


The last time I was in Florida was many a year ago. I had a Florida-loving girlfriend with a taste for tourismo elegance. So we went to a fancypants spot in Captiva, a supposedly fancypants place. On the way we passed a few decidedly non-fancypants trailer parks.

The movie The Florida Project is set, not in a trailer park but in a budget motel. A six-year old girl is fancyfree living with her struggling single mother. Sounds depressing but it is not. It is film of much joy as the mother and daughter live one day at a time. It is a memorable and uplifting movie.

Anyway not more than a few months later I got a call from my insurance carrier asking if I had been in Florida. They gave me a woman’s name that I cannot remember. This woman had sought treatment for Hepatitis-C using my insurance. I told them I had been in Florida but never sought medical aid. To wit someone had lifted a credit card number of mine and used it to locate my health insurance yet never took anything else.

I had a visceral concern for this mystery woman perhaps tempered by it not costing me anything. The insurance carrier may have been less sympathetic. 

While there I decided to pop in to an older cousin who had retired to Florida a few years earlier. He had had a successful career as a doctor and was smelling the roses or whatever flowers Florida offers. We had lunch. I avoided stopping in to see his sister who lived a few towns away. She was the family polar-opposite of her brother.

My vagabond cousin, his sister, I recalled when I was a six-year-old was the family terror. She was maybe sixteen and would roar up on the back of some outrageous Harley Hog driven by some thirty-year-old with scraggly hair, multiple tatoos, all leather, etc. 

From this cousin I learned the word “promiscuous.” She had a few husbands and a string of boyfriends as she grew up and aged. Her father referred to her as a “hot tomato,” ruefully.

This female cousin, also now in Florida, lived in a trailer after a career of being a foster mother, She would have a half-dozen foster children at a time along with a few of her own at any given period. She lived, presumably not in a trailer at the time, on the money she got from the State of Florida to take in waifs.

I had sympathy for the kids and the State that had no other place for them.  Yet that cousin never liked me. She saw me as a pointyheaded weirdo who listened to folk music when hard rock was the rage with her. So I skipped seeing her altogether.

I learned a few years after that that she had died young of Hepatitis-C. 

Judi Dench's Big Flop

The NEW YORK TIMES has a daily column on page 3 called Spotlight. It is not to be confused with the BOSTON GLOBE Spotlight series. The GLOBE’s Spotlight is serious investigative reporting.

The TIMES Spotlight is sometimes serious yet sometimes lighthearted. It is described as “additional reporting and repartee from our journalists.” It is based on email exchanges, water cooler talk or even Twitter chat between a TIMES journalist and a person of interest to a topic.

Back on Sept. 28 TIMES culture writer Logan Hill had an exchange with Judi Dench as part of his coverage of her new movie VICTORIA AND ABDUL. He asked her to describe her first acting experience.

She said when she was five years old she was cast as a snail in a school play. She was supposed to crawl across the stage. But when she saw her parents in the audience she stood up and waved. She was convinced her acting career was over.