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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Shames of Boca Raton, FL

By Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter

Just before The Trip around Earth, I escaped from a gated community in Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.A.

Outside the gates of that speck on the globe, neither trash nor delinquents were ever visible. The Mercedes Benzes would glide past landscapes of carefully arranged flowers and stretches of grass; every single blade was precisely trimmed.

In Boca, you are what you drive, and so, those Mercedes Benzes would be parked for the show at the outdoor shopping center in Boca, Mizner Park. It was a place to be seen with your designer handbag and your miniature dog, relaxed from its pedigree massage in a pet salon.

Watching people at Mizner, I could not doubt a statistic I never verified. Boca Raton allegedly has the highest per capita rate of breast augmentation operations. Mizner was one of the places for women past 50 or 60 to show off enormous breasts that squeeze out of the tops of low-cut blouses.

“Sun burned breast implants,” Martin Myers commented. “Double yuck. What could be colder than a lump of heated silicone.” Martin, a high school friend, is now an established artist living in The Adirondacks in NY. At the American school in Sao Paulo, Brazil ("Graded" ), he was the juvenile cynic. He was commenting on my recent e-mail description of Boca.

Martin also asked, “Did Dante visit Boca ?” He was referring to “Dante’s Inferno,” a description of a journey through a medieval concept of hell. Indeed, Dante would have encountered a unique blend of hell and heaven behind the guarded gates of Village Homes at Town Place, ruled by a homeowners’ association.

At Village Homes, we, the inmates/homeowners, once walked past the green density of ficus and palm trees and the violet and red of impatiens flowers to a poolside meeting. At the pool in front of a placid lake, the board for the homeowners’ association had called a meeting for a proposed $300,000 “emergency” assessment in spite of the economic crisis in the U.S. (April, 2008).

A couple of gaps in the garden at the front entrance, which I had not noticed before the meeting, were among the dire emergencies included in the assessment. In spite of homeowner/inmate protests, by the end of the year, $32,000 had turned into a front entrance decorated with piles of rocks, more trees, and more impatiens flowers.

At the meeting when we heard about funding the emergency projects, a board member said with a voice that sounded like it was choking with tears, “People drive by and they see it ( the gaps in the garden at the entrance ).”

Her voice trembled as she peered at us from the top of her glasses. “We are the shame of Boca.“
2010, copyright, Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter