Today I'll be concluding my two-part series on Miami. Last week, as you may recall, I wrote about a topic that always makes my heart swell: the Speedo.

Today I'll be concluding my two-part series on Miami. Last week, as you may recall, I wrote about a topic that always makes my heart swell: the Speedo. 


Specifically, I talked about spotting a thong Speedo the size of an anorexic humming bird. But more importantly, I shared my delight in discovering that the gene for Speedo fixation had been successfully passed on to my 21-year-old daughter. A prouder moment I'll never know!


My topic today is about driving in Miami. Unfortunately, I rented a car for my little business trip. I say "unfortunately" because at the time I reserved my rental, I was unaware of two things: (1) Miami drivers have the worst road rage in America, and; (2) a monsoon would strike the morning of our departure.


But, despite learning about Miami's rage issues in the weeks to come, I stuck with my decision to rent and picked up a compact car, a model so dinky I had to rearrange my vertebrae to fit in. Let me tell you, it is not easy driving slumped over like a limp squid.


It is also not easy driving with an impatient daughter Ð in Miami or not Ð who feels that it is her duty to help you go faster by reaching over and pressing down on your knee.


So I was a big bundle of frazzled nerves when I left the rental place and headed out into the asphalt jungle. To make matters worse, I had to immediately merge onto a roaring highway filled with testosterone-crazed speed demons.


Okay, I admit, I am a big weenie when it comes to merging, but no one seems to mind up North. Fellow drivers see my white knuckles, my furrowed brow, my twittering nostrils and they give me some space. But in Miami no one had the decency to do that. Au contraire. They sensed weakness and pounced like rabid flamingoes, squeezing me over to the edge, honking their horns, making obscene gestures and lobbing grapefruits at my windshield. Talk about pants-wetting terror!


But that little nightmare was nothing compared to the one we encountered on the way to return our rental. Thanks to a torrential downpour, we were cautioned to stay put. The TV news bulletin read: "Flash flood warning! Dangerous conditions! Do not drive unless absolutely necessary! One exception: Happy Hour at the Beachcomber Inn!"


Of course, we couldn't stay put: we had a plane to catch. So we took to the highway, battling sheets of hammering rain. I must say, things were going quite well until we exited. But once we turned off, we hit a hellish scene: a river, raging across the road, with several stalled cars in the middle Ð cars much bigger than our little clamshell.


"I think we can make it across," I said, full of false bravado. "Heck, we've been through blizzards worse than this. We're hardy Northerners, after all!"




"Aren't you going to press down on my knee?" I said. "To help your ol' mom get across?"




Honestly, I didn't know what to do, but as the Person In Charge, I felt I had no choice but to plow ahead. So I did and we floated on in to the rental place and she started talking again and all was fine. But it wasn't easy Ð oh, no! I was very scared driving that little car. VERY. And I learned a few lessons, too. I learned that if I ever rent a car in Miami again, I will need to bring two things: (1) retaliatory grapefruits, and (2) prophylactic astronaut diapers.


Anne Palumbo writes this weekly column for Messenger Post Newspapers. E-mail: