Blogging from Boca on Christmas Eve.
What a strange place Boca Raton is. It’s as gaudy as Vegas, but spread out over vast six-lane highways with names like “Butts” and “Jog” and “Powerline” and which connect one ostentatiously named (e.g., “Broken Sound”) and gated residential development to another, each development really a conglomerate of hundreds of smaller developments, each, again, ostenstatiously ( and quite unimaginatively) named (e.g., Bridgewood), if not gated. Everything here in Boca is an exact replica of something that exists up north, particularly in New York, and more particularly in Long Island. In fact, everyone here really IS from up north, particularly New York, and more particularly Long Island, and they all fly down to escape the winter weather and receive visits from their grandchildren and eat out in the same restaurants they eat out in up north and shop in the same departments stores they shop in up north and hang out with the same friends they hang out with up north. Except it’s all transplanted here, amid the palm trees and the golf courses and the plaid pants and the white hair. And the rules.
Ah, the rules.
Those who would migrate Bocaward for the winter must, in their deepest heart of hearts, embrace rules. Particularly rules that remind them how very worthy of rules they truly are. There is a long list of rules at the pool, for example, including, “All flotation devices must be attached to a person. No free floating floatation devices will be toleraed.” There is a list of rules regarding who can eat at which restaurant in the development. No children at this place. No women at that place. Women at this place, but only in that room and only on that day. Nothing that unusual, I suppose, if you’re accustomed to private country clubs and the like. But that’s only the beginning of the rules that serve as the foundation and heart center of what is Boca Raton.
There are, for example, strict dress codes at each restaurant in each residential development. The one which I was reading today stated that jeans are not acceptable “except designer jeans” and that “all shirts must be tucked except for Tommy Bahamas”. Is it any surprise that a rabble-rouser such as myself would read these rules and begin to ask such questions as, “Are Levi’s designer jeans?” “What if the designer jeans have rips in the knees?” And “What in God’s name is a Tommy Bahama?”
However, it is perhaps not the Rules themselves, but the complete lack of irony with which The Rules are set forth, accepted and then passed along to those who are mere visitors that truly define The Rules. And if that makes no sense, then I submit to you this anecdote, a true story, if paraphrased a bit, but true nonetheless in spirit. It is the story of an adult male, who on a visit to his parents’ winter home in Boca, broke the 75-lap rule at his parents’ residential development’s pool.
Said adult male exceeded that 75-lap rule, yes, and he did so with such hubris and righteous indignation that a quick decision by the powers that be was determined to be imperative. Because rules that are important cannot be broken, and when they are broken, there must be consequences, both swift and fearsome.
It was determined that the authorities should be called in.
And so said adult male who swam more than 75 laps and did so with hubris and righteous indignation was arrested. Taken into custody by the Boca Raton sherriff. In handcuffs and wet swim trunks he was taken to the pokey. In the process, he brought disgrace and shame upon his parents, who supported the rules, who believed in the rules, who, Lord knows, may even have assisted in the writing of the rules.
I will stop for a moment to reiterate that this story was told to me as true, as fact. I do not know if it really IS true or even remotely factual. But what is IMPORTANT is that it was told to me as such, and that it was told to me both with pride and as a fearsome warning. Its telling came upon the tail end of this conversation, which I shall now paraphrase:
“If you drive too fast on the roads within the development, we’re the ones who will get in trouble for it,” we were told.
“You’ll get in trouble in a legal sense?” I asked, “or in a social sense?”
“Well, both, I mean, I think. I mean, it doesn’t matter. People are responsible for the behavior of their visitors. The rules are for everyone. They put them together for everyone’s benefit. They worked hard to create rules that would keep things running smoothly here.”
“Who is this they of which you speak?”
“The people who came up with the rules.”
“Who would know if we drove too fast?”
“They would know. People are watching.”
We decided to stay at a hotel instead, the husband and I. It just felt safer for everyone involved. On the other hand, the kids are happily ensconsed in Ruleville, which makes sense for children, I think. Or for second childhoods. Or for people who don’t mind resembling a Seinfeld episode.
I should note at this juncture that I did not break any rules by practicing my yoga at the pool today, although I was asked to practice at a “satellite pool”, rather than at the main pool area.
Happily, I got a taste of what my practice might be like in the summer after a winter of hard and thankless work. I bound Pasasana without the assistance of any human or any dog toys. I found the toes of my right foot in Kapotasana. And I stood up easily from three backbends in a row. It’s hard for me to understand why it is so much easier to practice in warm weather than in a warm room in cold weather. But it is. It just is. And now if memory serves, I believe that each year I have had this experience, where I work hard all winter, and I get nowhere. Then the winter gives way to spring, and suddenly, all the progress blossoms. It’s as if my progress goes into hibernation for the winter and wakes up six weeks after the groundhog sees his shadow. Or so I hope it goes, and so it seems it will, and so I hope it shall.
Yours with complete awareness of an utter absence of gratitude for all of the gifts that have been bestowed upon me, apparently, although things are never exactly as they seem,