The Wrist Chomp
Every year, millions of tourists flock to Florida for the sandy beaches, sexy South Beach, and/or a sweet pair of oversized mouse ears with their name embroidered on the back. A Florida vacation is usually safe and air-conditioned, but for the more adventurous, the trip can include a Ponce De Leonian quest to the state’s most mythical place – Gainesville.
Smack dab in the middle of the state, Gainesville is home to the University of Florida and their famous “Gator Chomp,” a symbolic movement of outstretched arms imitating an alligator chomping its prey. Although paleontologists dispute the origins of the Chomp, contemporary Floridians use the Chomp to intimidate enemies and unify their tribes. Witnessing the Chomp in person is on many bucket lists, but there are inherent dangers to an overland journey through rural Florida. We’ve listed a few things to watch out for if you choose to make the trip.
1) Florida is a swamp. And with swamps come mosquitoes. Outside Gainesville, the mosquitoes are voracious and congregate by the trillions. Similar to a safari through the Serengeti, guidebooks recommend you stay inside your vehicle and lather yourself with bug spray. But in our experience, sooner or later, a mosquito is going to chase you down and suck your blood. Generally, this isn’t such a big deal. But what tourists don’t realize is that most of the rural population in Florida is addicted to methamphetamines and riddled with Hepatitis. The poor mosquitoes feed on the diseased natives and pass it on to unsuspecting tourists. It’s a real problem.
2) Most rural Floridians can’t afford a television (which goes a long way toward explaining the 2000 presidential election), but those who do own a TV are rabid Florida Gator fans. You can easily spot them cloaked in orange and blue ensembles over their lesion-covered bodies. These people are not to be trusted and when approached by one or a group, try not to panic. They’ll likely begin the encounter with a series of Chomps, baring their rotted teeth, and smelling your clothes or vehicle. DO NOT RUN, stay calm. The natives speak a loose English dialect, but they will likely be too drunk to actually form words. Your best bet is to stay relaxed, smile, and nod as they slur a story about seeing Tebow at a Waffle House.
3) The humidity in the area is unlike anywhere else on earth. The only place science has found with more moisture per square foot is Lake Michigan. What most guidebooks won’t tell you is that the natives have developed small, gill-like slats behind their ears that provide their body with an extra boost of oxygen. This evolutionary oddity was actually the inspiration for Kevin Costner’s character in the 1995 hit film Waterworld. The key to surviving these conditions is to always keep your hands dry. This will allow you to open doors and drive cars; thus, escaping any inclement situations.
You might be asking yourself: “Is this how I want to spend my vacation? Is the Gainesville experience worth the journey’s risk?” In our estimation…yes. It won’t be easy and the challenges are great, but like the 4-day trek to Machu Picchu, the rewards of the destination are timeless. We found Gainesville to be a magical place, full of wonder and enlightenment. The women are tan and beautiful, juicy oranges hang from every branch, and the university’s engineering department has created a system of aqueducts rivaling those of ancient Persia.
But you have to come prepared. Besides a rifle packed with buckshot, the most important piece of equipment is a pair of Wrist Chomps. Marauding clans of hillbillies instantly see the color palate and feel at ease. The bands’ terry cloth exterior keep your hands dry and free for use, while the plush stitching acts as an impenetrable force-field to mosquitoes thirsty to drink from your wrist’s vulnerable arteries. Wrist Chomps won’t replace common sense and experience, but they might be the piece of equipment that saves your life on the journey to Gainesville.