They’re coming! At first I noticed a few Iowa plates and then Minnesota began to trickle in. Before long there will be a sea of Midwest license plates all over the island. The Q-Tips are back for another season. They call themselves Winter Texans or Snowbirds. We call them Q-Tips because they wear white tennis shoes and have white hair. Tennis shoes, always, and t-shirts from Branson and other exotic places they have been, and not necessarily since last year. Some of these t-shirts look as worn and wrinkled as their faces, not that there is anything wrong with worn and wrinkled faces; I’m not far away.
Occasionally, I see the more fashion conscious Winter Texan wearing SAS shoes. If you are not familiar with SAS shoes, then you aren’t around enough older people. Just wait, you will; they will be called “your friends.” Actually, these folks are just slightly older than I am, and extremely active, but they are just different than us locals or so we like to think.
The Q-Tips come in all sizes and shapes, and they are from a number of colder states, but it is their mode of transportation and the teams they root for that distinguishes them. You don’t even want to be within 20 feet of a big screen television when the Hoosiers are playing! And God help us if Green Bay is playing the Cowboys.
Now they are equally identified by their carriages and abodes. The ones who stay in condos drive Lincoln Towne Cars and occasionally Cadillacs—the big ones. The fifth-wheel people drive those big ole diesel “doolies” (honestly I am not sure how this is spelled) with the double cabs. I can hear them three streets over as they drive through the neighborhood on lazy Sunday afternoons.
The motor home owners kick around in Jeep Cherokees or similar mid-size SUVs, painted in the same color as their winter home. Now, I have no problem with that. I love matchy-matchy. It drives my eclectic friends crazy (you know who you are). None of those off center hanging pictures for me. Line them up, the straighter the better. I mean really, would you if you had a choice want one leg shorter than the other? Then why would you want a bunch of mismatched stuff when you can have it all matching?
Well, back to the Q-Tips. They assign themselves to the same structure that we used to place kids in school before we got so politically correct— ability groups. Most of it is determined by financial means, but another factor is a shared interests like fishing, bingo, golf, etc. There are even financial sub-groups to all those areas—boat owners vs. surf fisher people. This becomes way too complicated and nothing you really need to think about unless you live here and then those patterns and timeframes are important.
But not to worry about these groups, they put themselves that way. The park model and/or fifth-wheel folks hang out together, sitting out under their awnings, swapping stories over a pot of coffee in the morning or knocking off a beer or two in the early afternoon. The condo people hit the communal game rooms for pot luck or sit at the pools drawing in the warm rays of a South Texas winter. Everyone is happy, and almost always they are in these groups, everywhere; a group to the beach, to the bars, to Mexico, to dine. If you see a winter Texan by himself, you know he is lost.
I am friends with some of these people, and I hope to get to know many more of them as Keeping Faith hits the market. These people are bright, articulate, wise with years, and many of them like to read novels. Guess I better find my way to the condo pools and the Winter Texan hangouts. Guess I better not call them Q-Tips—they just might buy my book!