"You're a cracker," Eileen replied, then complained about the abundance of traffic lights between the airport and the hotel district. Eileen's other passenger, a fellow journalist, looked at me in a very I-can't-believe-Eileen-just-called-you-that fashion. I was also confused, but mainly because I didn't know that anyone in Florida still (or ever, really) uttered the term to describe someone born and raised in the Sunshine State.
But as I would learn, Fort Myers residents absolutely use the word, which has by and large fallen out of popular use -- and in general content themselves with a host of other odd, very Floridian things that global real estate and Disney have done a pretty good job of purging in the past few decades.
On a boat the next morning with a blue-eyed, cargo short-wearing man named Ryan, the vessel's owner, my travel companions expressed similar bewilderment when he called himself a "proud cracker." Sensing a general this-microaggression-will-not-stand-man unease, I quickly explained to the others that Ryan meant he had lived in Florida all his life. It's just something people say here, I said; it isn't meant as a racial signifier.