Twelve Signs You Grew Up in Fort Lauderdale

If you're from Fort Lauderdale, you know it isn't easy to brag about your hometown. There are way too many cringeworthy stereotypes about rowdy spring breakers, orthopedic-wearing snowbirds, and aloof Canadians. Plus, it's humid, our cops have been criticized as racist, and a dumb law tries to keep us from sharing food with the homeless.

But buried beneath the self-deprecating jabs is a complicated pride. Growing up in Fort Lauderdale means you belong to a land where people smuggle cocaine in their vaginas and streak through the streets high on flakka. We're the Venice of America! We have craft beer, and (more recently) Uber!

Here are the 12 signs you grew up in Fort Lauderdale:

12. You knew the cool side of the pier versus the tourist side.
It wasn't rocket science. Just stay far away from the folks doused in sunscreen and wearing socks underneath their sandals. And whatever you do, don't mess with the guys with their fishing rods in the water. 

11. You got your fake ID taken away at a club on Las Olas.
In a past life, you might've really been Jake from Vermont, but it didn't matter how many times you tried to convince the bouncer at Elbo Room. Your ID was swiped, so you called your mom to pick you up. 
10. Your diet consisted of Jack's Old Fashion Hamburgers and LaSpada's.
Growing up, these two places were your favorites. Watching your sandwichmaker cut the meat and perfectly layer toppings was like witnessing a miracle. When you die, you hope to be soaked in a Jack's milkshake and/or their leftover hamburger grease.

9. You sneaked into the Fort Lauderdale Swimming Hall of Fame.
It was in the Fort Lauderdale Teen Handbook 101. At some point in high school, you hopped the fence after hours at the Swimming Hall of Fame, stripped down to your undies, and jumped off the high dive. 
8. You remember when Riverfront wasn't a ghost town.
Once upon a time, Riverfront was happening. There was Off the Hookah, a movie theater, and a bunch of restaurants. Then the recession hit. These days, you'd be lucky to find a stray cat here. 

7. You still don't understand Fort Lauderdale High's Mascot.
Does anyone actually know what a Flying L is anyway? How can a letter be a mascot? Why does it fly? That blue-winged letter has never made sense. Pep rallies just look like a bunch of kids calling each other losers. 
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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson