Sunday, January 7, 2018

let me tell you 'bout a place I know

I work hard, so when I take a vacation, I want to go to a place that I know I will have a good time. I, admittedly, have a different idea of "relaxation" than a lot of people I know. I don't care to spend a long time laying on a beach, doing nothing. I'm not particularly fond of beaches anyway, but if my wife, who enjoys laying out at a beach, wishes to include that as an "activity" during our vacation, I will certainly oblige... for as long as I can. Oftentimes, I'm only good for fifteen minutes before I get "antsy" and have to go for a walk or find something to actually "do."

Vacations for my family have mostly involved travelling to a place we've never been before — then going there for several consecutive years until we chose another place we've never been and then repeat the procedure. We went to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon in 1984, then returned for two consecutive years. We took a break when my son was born, but once we decided he was old enough to appreciate the Florida theme park, we went — and went and went.

We visited Niagara Falls when our son was little and, again, returned each summer for several years in a row. We have repeated this pattern with Las Vegas, Hershey Park, Disneyland and, of course, based on its proximity to our home, Atlantic City and nearby Jersey Shore destinations. When our son got older and our vacations were reduced to my wife and me, we latched on to taking cruises. Honestly, I balked and actually shunned cruising for a long time. My wife had brought up the notion several times over the years, but finally, I conceded and — I will now admit — I love it. We just returned from our sixth cruise in five years. See? We even made cruising fit into our vacation formula.

So, if you've been paying attention, you will notice a subtle (or not so subtle) similarity among all of our vacation destinations. The overlying theme is "kitsch." That's right! We like to go to places that are entertaining. Hokey, tourist-y places with bright lights and loud music and gaudy colors. We like to see stuff that we can't see at home. And if there's a cemetery nearby, that's a bonus.... at least for me. Got it?

Earlier this week, singer/songwriter Wesley Stace (who used to perform under the name John Wesley Harding) tweeted this statement that smacked of "I've had enough already!" sentiment:
When I read it, I immediately felt Mr. Stace's pain. Despite the fact that I do not know specifically what his tweet was addressing, I certainly understand the frustration that it expresses. You see, over the years, everyone — and I mean fucking everyone! — has told me where I should go on vacation. Not suggested. Not mentioned. Told. Insisted. Nearly demanded. And by some of the recommendations, you would think these people — friends, family, co-workers — had never met me. These folks know what I like, know my interests, my quirky sense of humor, my love of pop culture and all things "corny." Yet, the vacation scenarios that have been presented to me are downright mind-boggling, For instance, years ago, I was planning one of the many trip I took with my family to Walt Disney World. After I secured my vacation time from work, a co-worker (Actually, he was my boss. A tall, fidgety guy who stayed at the office daily for as long as he possibly could, giving me the impression that he was "in charge" at work, but not "in charge" at home) made a vacation suggestion to me in a manner in which I have come to loathe.

"You know where you should go on vacation?," he began. I hate this preface. I have been on the receiving end of this introduction many, many times. I brace myself, because what follows is a proposal that I would never in a zillion years enjoy. And, sure enough, this one was no different. "Yellowstone National Park!," he revealed his "perfect vacation spot" for the Pincus family. I stared at him blankly, waiting for that smug grin to fade from his face. I thought for a minute before I offered my reasons for why Yellowstone National Park, while a fine destination, is not a place that would fit in to the Pincus's vacation criteria. Except, I wasn't so diplomatic.

"Why on earth would I want to go to Yellowstone?," I answered, "I can see trees on my way to work! I can't see singing pirates on my way to work!" I continued before he could open his mouth. "I don't camp. The thought of camping repulses me. That's why I bought a house, so I wouldn't have to sleep in the dirt."

Another time, while we were making plans for a summertime vacation, my ex-sister-in-law, who had just returned from a week at a beachfront time-share in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, began singing the praises of that locale. "Oh, you should go to Hilton Head! You will love it!," she gushed.

"What is there to do in Hilton Head?," I deadpanned, not responding well to someone telling me what I should do.

"There's golfing and bike riding and there's the beach.," she continued as though she was reading straight from a brochure from the Hilton Head Tourist Bureau.

"Have  you ever seen me golf? Or ride a bike? And how many times have you seen me happily on a beach?," I countered. She seemed to have forgotten that not everyone enjoys the same things. While suggestions are perfectly fine, her command of "you should go here" caused me to become irritated.

It's funny how many people who know me, really know nothing about me. I like plastic-y places. Surreal, goofy places. I like factory tours (I've seen how Tupperware is made and how rum is distilled.) and silly, tourist-y places. I like cemeteries, but only to see the graves of famous people. I don't like white-water rafting or tennis or sleeping under the stars. And no matter how much you suggest, or in some cases, insist, I'm never gonna like those things.

I'm very sure of where I should go on vacation. Have a good time on yours.

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