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TR: Florida. It sounds good, doesn't it. White sand, palm trees, green grass, golf courses, and lots of friendly people right about your age. But there's something they don't mention in the tourist brochures, and that's alligators. I'm Dr. Frank Fretland, Head of Prosthetics at St. Paul Hospital, and in the past few years, I've fitted more than six-thousand senior citizens with artificial hands, arms, legs, and seats. That's why I decided to found Gator Watch, a non-profit organization to provide up-to-date information on alligators to Minnesotans who may be considering a vacation or a permanent move to Florida. It's time we faced facts. Due to overprotection by birdbrain environmentalists, the alligator population of Florida has mushroomed from less than sixty thousand to an estimated six billion gators. These are carnivorous animals who, for reasons we don't understand, can smell hair dye a mile away and are attracted to it. They're also attracted to bright plaids. Dental adhesives are a definite turn-on for alligators. And remember: alligators can travel short distances at up to 150 miles per hour and when you run a short distance at 150, that means you get there fast. The average senior travels short distances in about a week. Take it from me, you are no match for a gator. And yet, thousands of Minnesotans head for Florida with utterly no idea of what lies in wait for them. (JET LANDING) they land in Miami or Coral Gables or Tampa, and in the tall grass just off the runway, thousands of big yellow eyes watch. Wherever you go in Florida, alligators can see you. They're in the backyards. In swimming pools. In the bushes next to patios. Baby alligators crawl through ventilation systems, and late at night (BUBBLING AND SLIGHT SPLASH) they come up out of toilets. No matter where you go, alligators are there too.


SS (OLD LADY): Oh, what a nice evening to sit out here on the patio. Yes. (SLOW FOOTSTEPS) Well, what in the world --- I must be losing my marbles ---- I left my handbag under the wicker bench. Well, that's not handbag. That looks more like a golfbag. Harold----(GATOR ROAR)

TR: Don't let it happen to you. My advice? Don't go, but if you do, be sure to buy two of these GatorGuard Gas Shoes ---- the shoe with a high-velocity gas nozzle in the toe that connects, through a tube that runs up your leg and through your underwear, to a tank strapped on your back. Wear the shoes at all times, and when an alligator comes at you ---- notice I don't say "if," I say "when" ---- simply lift your foot and point and billows of acrid yellow gas will pour out and repel him. Remember, the gas is activated by lifting your foot, so make sure to keep your feet on the ground and when you walk, shuffle. Here's a demonstration on actual film of a gator attack successfully repelled. (GATOR ROAR, GAS, GATOR DEATH). GatorGuard Gas Shoes. From Gator Watch. This is Dr. Frank Fretland.

©1998 Garrison Keillor