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Shell Shocked: Snowbirds…we don’t get no respect

By Staff | Apr 8, 2015

If you’re a full time resident of Sanibel, you take your annual pledge very seriously “Snowbirds, can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.”

Snowbirds are blamed for everything that goes wrong in Sanibel during the winter months traffic congestion, long waits at restaurants, even the war in Afghanistan. Snowbirds are blamed for bad weather, crop frost, manatee extinction and March Madness.

Well, folks, I’m a card carrying snowbird and I’m proud of it. I attend all Snowbirds Anonymous meetings and vow to remain a snowbird despite the heckling and ridicule I’m routinely subjected to by the full timers.

I’d like to clear up some myths about Sanibel snowbirds that are perpetuated by a small cadre of right-wing, non-snowbirds to tarnish our reputations and pressure us not to return.

No, we don’t expect an annual parade on Periwinkle to see us off each May. We especially don’t like the water hosing part as our cars are escorted onto the causeway by the Sanibel police amidst the raucous chants of the We Hate Snowbirds demonstrators.

No, not all snowbirds reside in the same town in Michigan. It might surprise our year-round resident friends to know that Sanibel snowbirds are scattered throughout the world. However, I think it’s safe to say that few, if any, snowbirds will be returning to their summer homes in Iraq, Yemen, Syria or Uranus. Nor will any be hitching a ride on a space station circling the globe anytime soon. These are malicious rumors spread to discourage us from coming back to Sanibel anytime soon.

No, there is not a single Sanibel snowbird I know of living here in the winter that is in the witness protection program. However, it’s rumored that Robert Durst was once spotted at a Sanibel restaurant cutting a ribeye steak into a thousand pieces.

No, snowbirds aren’t planning a reality show called “The Desperate Housewives of Sanibel.” Our community association rules forbid self-aggrandizement and displays of narcissism.

No, we don’t turn our homes over to drug addicts while we’re spending our summers searching for the meaning of life. The only drugs prevalent in Sanibel are MiraLAX and Zantac. These drugs can easily be obtained by breaking into our local CVS store and don’t involve drug lords, cartels and undercover agents.

No, we snowbirds don’t really care what the full timers do when we’re gone nor do we want to know, anyway. But we’ve heard rumors of wild sex parties, gecko hunts, T-shirt sharing and alligator swapping. We snowbirds prefer to turn the other cheek.

No, we don’t plant secret crops of opium poppy before we leave. That’s truly a malicious rumor. Full timers, you’re welcome to check our homes and yards.

No, we’re not leaving our major league teams in Fort Myers to extend spring training into summer training. Our teams will now play “real” games in “real” stadiums with “real” fans. The full timers will be stuck watching aging 50-year-old minor leaguers play who still dream of making it to the big leagues. The minor league games may be a bit slow and the players somewhat over the hill, but you never know. Among the minor league players may lurk another Satchel Paige.

No, snowbirds will not subsidize the Barbara B. Mann Theater in Fort Myers by attempting to help raise its average summer attendance from eight people to twenty-five hundred. It’s your problem, not ours.

And, finally, no, we’re not going to open our homes to alligators and sea turtles while we’re gone. Let them find their own nesting areas.

But fear not local businesses. Most of us snowbirds are still around until May and will continue to spend our life savings on T-shirts, polished seashells, blackened fish, golf outings and Noah’s Ark hand-me-downs. Our cash will remain your king, and flow it will until May.

Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.