The Septuagenarian Speaks – published April 17, 2019, Siskiyou Daily News
There is a new internet game that has gone viral. It is called “Florida Man,” and it is fun. Try it. Let me know if you come up with something really good. Here’s how it works: Simply Google the words “Florida Man” together with the month and day of your birth (not the year). For example, my birthday is June 5th. If I Google “Florida Man June 5,” here is one example of the results:
June 5th, 2015, ABC Channel 6 News: “A Florida man has some serious dance moves, but it wasn’t a good idea to show them off because he was dancing on top of a police car. The man was up there for six minutes before he slid down on the windshield and ripped off one of the wipers. Police arrested him minutes later. The man told police he was being threatened by vampires and needed help from the Sheriff of Nottingham.”
Suppose your birthday is June 27. Here is an example of what you would get, TCPalm Newspaper: “Florida man Earl Stevens, Jr. told investigators he wasn’t drinking while driving. Stevens said he never had a valid Florida driver’s license. Deputies noticed he did have an open bottle of liquor in a brown paper bag in the passenger seat. He smelled of booze, and said he felt ‘pretty good.’ He further explained that he was not drinking while the car was moving and only when he stopped for stop signs and traffic signals.”
Why “Florida Man?” Why not “California Man?” Or “Siskiyou County Man?” Or even “Yreka Man?” Why has Florida gained this honored distinction? One expert, a USA Today journalist (probably from Florida), has three theories. First, crime stories are relatively easy to report in Florida. Government records are easily accessible (a good thing, I think, unless of course there is something in there about me). Second, there is the general craziness. As described by a local Florida columnist, “There’s a general craziness here that’s almost palpable. Maybe it’s because so many people – like me – aren’t from here … They come here to hide, to escape, to forget their past, to reinvent themselves.” The third explanation may explain a lot. Something is a little off, but what? I think I know the answer. The phrase “Florida Woman” hasn’t gotten such viral attention. Maybe they wouldn’t dare.
Also, I think I’ve figured out why “Yreka Man” hasn’t caught on and gone viral, even though we may share some of the same craziness.
It isn’t that we don’t have similar experiences. Consider this recent report from KRCR News: “Yreka man arrested after officials say he stole two 2,000-gallon water tanks from the Mount Shasta Vista area. The Sheriff’s Office received a call reporting that the suspect had stolen two 2,000-gallon water tanks near Bent Twig Road, driving a Chevrolet pick-up pulling a utility trailer. Residents in the area not only reported the theft but continued to give updates as the suspect left the scene. The suspect rammed another vehicle. At this time, one of the water tanks fell off the trailer and blocked the road. It was later discovered that the suspect’s Chevrolet pick-up was stolen from a repair facility in Dorris.
So, what sets “Yreka Man” apart from “Florida Man?” Is it that “Yreka Man” isn’t as stupid as “Florida Man?” Probably. But demographics may also have something to do with it. Chances are, unless your birthday is May 22nd, you won’t come up with anything as interesting as the theft of two 2,000-gallon water tanks from Bent Twig Road. Florida has approximately 21 million inhabitants, more than enough to provide a “Florida Man” for every day of the year. Yreka has only about 7,500 people. Sadly, there just aren’t enough “Yreka Men” to cover every birthday.