They say the best thing about Miami is how close it is to the United States, but is that really such a good thing? America -- real 'Murica -- is a strange land with bizarre cultures, and every time a Miamian travels to this perplexing territory, we can't help but feel dazed and confused trying to figure out how exactly these people live the way they live.
1. There are vast lands where people actually know how to drive.
There are two truths about Miami drivers: (1) We drive horribly. (2) We like to pretend we're the only ones in town who don't drive horribly.
Visiting real America reminds us that, yes, we too are no exception to rule number one. We've all been there. We're visiting somewhere and offer to drive our host out, and then, as we're making a full-speed turn after cutting across three lanes of traffic, we look over at our friend, praying for his life in the passenger seat. We look around at the street and see all these people who have these strange blinking lights on the front of their cars. We realize not a single person has cut us off going 20 miles over the speed limit. That's when it hits us: We're a monster behind the wheel. Maybe we're not the worst, but Miami has left us without the ability to drive like a civilized being. For a second we're horrified, but then we notice that yellow light is about to turn red, so we gun it and figure, "Eh, fuck 'em."
2. The only Latin food option is tacos.
Miami has restaurants that serve authentic cuisine from all almost everywhere in Latin America. As for real America, they've got a good deal on taco Tuesday over at El Mariachi. They don't even have warm croquetas at gas stations. Saying the word "arepa" might get us looked at funny while girls keep their distance. And if we ask where to get cafecito, we might get a response like, "Well, there's a café up on Main Street, and they usually have plenty of seats."
3. Drinks are humanely priced.
Not everything about visiting real America is horrible. In many places, any basic alcoholic libation over $5 is considered expensive. For $5 in Miami, we get a thimble full of Skol vodka and half a can of club soda. Of course, usually when we're outside Miami, we need to be plenty drunk to enjoy ourselves anyway.
4. There aren't DJs everywhere.
In Miami, the DJ is ubiquitous. We have DJs where they don't belong. Hell, if there were electrical outlets on sidewalks, there'd be people DJing for money in the streets. Other towns have a sole DJ at their one sad strip-mall nightclub, and that DJ usually sucks.
5. In fact, there's not loud music blasting everywhere at all times always.
We can barely talk at some Miami restaurants, let alone nightclubs, because the music is pumping so loud. Our relaxing beach day is ruined because someone is blasting crappy EDM from his iPod or having a drum circle. Our neighbor wakes us up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday because because he's blasting salsa for a family breakfast in the backyard. Our car begins to rumble and we freak out until we realize the Caddy that just pulled up is blasting Rick Ross.
In real America, it's quiet. It's almost nice until it gets too quiet. Then it's kind of creepy. So we just turn up "Diamond Girl" on our car stereo.
6. People eat dinner, like, superearly.
There are some Miami restaurants where we can't get a table at 9 p.m. not because it's busy, but because the place is hasn't opened yet. Apparently some people like to finish dinner by 8 o'clock, not start thinking about it then. If we try to eat at our normal dinnertime in a lot of towns, the waitstaff side-eyes us like, "The fuck they gonna get out of here? I wanna go home."
7. And clubs close superearly.
One time we went to Orlando with a Miami friend. We were warned that Orlando, like the vast majority of real America, has a 2 a.m. last call. Our friend literally didn't believe us. He couldn't comprehend. Finally we got him out of the hotel. We walked into the "club," and we use the term lightly, at 1:35 -- just in time for one drink. Luckily, we realized we didn't want to be in an Orlando club for more than 25 minutes anyway, so it kind of worked out.
8. Gringos. So many gringos.
We're gringos ourselves here, and after a decade in Miami, sometimes we still get freaked out by being surrounded by too many of them. And we don't even have to worry about the potential for racism, so we can only imagine what it's like in "real America."
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.