The days leading up to their departure day are filled with talk of Florida. Not facts about Florida that you learned in school, such as Ponce de Leon discovered the area and drank from the Fountain of Youth, or that the state produces more oranges than any other state. No, their discussion about Florida goes something like this:
“When are Phyllis and Herb getting down there?” Dad asks.
“They’ve been down for weeks,” Mom says.
“Ummmm, I can’t wait to taste the matzo ball soup at Nana’s Nosh,” Dad inserts into the conversation.
“Or their pickles either,” Mom replies.
“Do you think Freddie Roman will be performing at the clubhouse again this year?” Dad questions Mom.
“If he is, I’m not going. We must have seen him about 15 times already,” Mom replies.
The last two days before they leave are spent closing up their house. Now, closing up a house for a season may not seem like a big thing, but it is a whole ordeal, according to Mom. Not only do they have to clean the house and lock the doors, but they also have to turn down the heat (not off, mind you, something could freeze and break) so that their low heating bill will help make their trip to Florida worth it financially. Then of course, there’s turning off the water – don’t want the pipes to burst, God forbid. Mom and Dad also have to fill out forms to have their mail forwarded to Florida and call the phone company to have their phone service turned off while they are away.
But my all-time favorite ritual of theirs is pouring bleach into the toilets, and then covering them tightly with plastic wrap. Yes, you read correctly; they cover their toilets with plastic wrap you would use to wrap a salami. Just before they are ready to leave for Florida they go around to each bathroom in their house and lift the toilet bowl lids. Then they pour in a quarter cup of bleach, snuggly cover the bowl with the plastic wrap, and close the lid for the winter. If they don’t do this, Mom tells me that their toilets will be black from mildew when they return home because they haven’t been flushed in months. The bleach keeps the mildew away, and the plastic wrap prevents the water from evaporating, she claims.
Their friends Flo and Irv didn’t wrap their toilets one year, and the toilet in their master bathroom was ruined from mildew and Flo said it needed to be replaced. Although, the truth is it probably could have been saved with an extensive scrubbing. Mom says Flo figured that since they were replacing the toilet, they might as well redo the whole bathroom. (Not an inexpensive proposition, I might add.) Since that toilet incident with Flo and Irv, Dad has put himself in charge of wrapping the toilets. He thinks Mom will wrap them loosely on purpose so that she too can get a brand new master bathroom.