Staying in ‘The Twilight Zone’ of Florida

Posted March 30, 2012, at 9:48 p.m.
Emmet Meara
Emmet Meara

“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead — your next stop, The Twilight Zone.”

There is, in fact, a signpost up ahead. It says Lehigh Acres. It is a strange little town about 15 miles from bustling, sweaty Ft. Myers, Fla., but a mere 8 miles from the sparkling new JetBlue Park, the home of the (occasionally) mighty Red Sox.

For those of feeble minds, Lehigh Acres was considered “ground zero” in the housing collapse and was considered a “must visit” during the Republican primary in Florida.

But it seemed like such a good idea, renting a condo in Lehigh Acres, a condo that would be half the distance to the new ballpark and half the cost compared to the (HoJos) motel I rented in Florida last year. I shared this domicile with a pair of hearty Minnesotans (Twins fans) who talked like they were extras in “Fargo,” but they paid half the rent.

I have a few hundred TV channels at Cobb Manor and assumed the condo would have the same. I have Wi-Fi at home which allows me to do the New York Times Crossword puzzle in bed, the ultimate luxury.

Did I ask about television service in the Lehigh condo? I did not. Did I ask about Wi-Fi service which was available in each and every motel and hotel on the 10-day (I have a lot of friends) drive from Camden to Lehigh? I did not.

The lovely landlady explained that there is “some” Internet service off the lanai “from 9 to 5.” Huh?

It seems that you had to pirate someone else’s signal from something called “Linksys.” Sometimes it is there, sometimes it is not. No rhyme, no reason. She explained that you can drive 6 miles to McDonald’s or 13 miles to the nearest library for Internet service.

Huh? The library? Who goes to the library?

For those who forgot, this was magnificent “March Madness” month. There are few sporting events that can rival the excitement when underdog basketball teams such as Butler can beat defending champion Florida and Gonzaga can beat anyone they face.

The condo television was big enough and had a great picture. But the channel selection was highly limited since it ran on rabbit ears.

Rabbit ears? I was in “The Twilight Zone.”

It was simply too dangerous to find a sports bar (Lehigh had exactly none) in Ft. Myers, Fla., watch a few basketball games, drink beer for four hours, then try to get back to “The Twilight Zone.” I am a little dim, yes, but not stupid. I listened instead to the games at home on my battery-powered L.L. Bean’s emergency radio.

Radio?

But there was an unexpected bonus to the 10-channel (three weather, three Spanish evangelists) selection. (They often drifted in and out). But the MeTV channel was steady and offered a “Twilight Zone” selection of Mary Tyler Moore, Rockford Files, Hawaii 50 (The original), Kojak and… the Rifleman. I saw Sam and Diane break up again on “Cheers.” Naturally, I watched “The Twilight Zone.” It seemed appropriate.

The unexpected bonus was spotting “new actors” such as Robert Redford, Suzanne Somers, whoever played Starsky, Buddy Hackett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dennis Hopper and Martin Landau in the vintage productions.

I found that my love and lust for Mary Tyler Moore remained a constant. I now, however, have Susan Pleshette (“Bob Newhart Show”) in the No. 1 position. Wow.

Now the time has come, as it always does. It is time to pack the trusty Honda Accord and head north to Maine and the inevitable snow. I have not worn long pants since New Jersey.

We are already talking about next year and another condo. But this one must have Wi-Fi and cable TV, which includes ESPN — an absolute must.

One that is far away from “The Twilight Zone.”

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

 

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