EST. May 2000 (AD)


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The Travel of others

By Pamela Miller

You feel renewed and exhilarated. After finally finagling a free trip to Bonaire (thank you credit card points program) via Biloxi and Bennington, you're home. You're pale (thank you sun block #45). You're sharp thanks to a new detox program featuring gooseberries and silica. The air is crisper. The scent of apple blossoms is more pronounced. You're at peace. And nothing is quite so important as spreading the word about your fine exquisite travels. You are the living embodiment of top-drawer luxury, scented liners, masseuses named Sven and well deserved pampering.

Then your neighbor, Lorene, attacks you. Lorene just got back from her 59th trip to Orlando. She wants to show you all the great new shots she took with Piglet and Rabbit. (Pooh and Tigger must have been on an extended break.) Her new iPod has the ability to hold 2,000 photos, as well as the complete adventures of some kids who burst into song for no reason. She wants to start the photo tour with the bus driver, Stephanie, a former prison warden turned professional greeter.

Make it stop. Please, make it stop.

The sad truth is that travel isn't just about you. Other people do it, and not just for bragging rights. While most people live and die within 50 miles of their birthplaces, the choices people make for holidays often conveys something tragic about their inner natures. (It's just as tragic to purposely live off the land as to live off canned pasta.) One person's getaway is another person's vision of hell. The campers are the most difficult to fathom. These people are hearty, the kind that don't voice a need for a heated towel rack. They even boast of the pleasure of extended periods without running water and electricity. (Best not to experience electricity and running water simultaneously; that's fatal.) And the campers are just as inclined to pack a camera to capture the joy of watching centipedes move about three inches over the course of an afternoon.

The campers and hikers and hunters are indoctrinated early. This is also true of boaters, skiers and landscape architects. If every weekend during your formative years, you were swabbing a deck, attacking rust stains on a hull, fending off rattlesnakes, or terrorizing squirrels, you might think this was enjoyable.

But what about the people who base all their dreams on television shows about travel. These aren't travel documentaries, but fictional shows about people showing up in Corsica, dancing the night away with strangers, and drinking a questionable brown liquor from a unlabeled bottle without once thinking about alcohol poisoning, Rohypnol, or strained muscles from inappropriate footwear. The cruise industry is still benefitting from a 1970s television show. Youngsters spent their Saturday nights dreaming of the Lido deck, umbrella sporting cocktails, and the kind of lascivious comments that could get a gentlemen shot at dawn. Now adults, they rush to recreate their memories of the Kissing Bandit or the Woman Pursued by Everyone.

The next exits on the Please Make It Stop highway are the G Rated Fantasy Camps. Yes, it's swell that you took a photo with the guy who played rhythm guitar on the B-Side of a Top 30 hit from 1971. But is the value real or just imagined. A week at Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in London, England, costs $12,999.00 for six days. That makes Baseball Fantasy Camp (at under $3000), a bargain. The most frightening is Hollywood TV Star Fantasy Camp. For your $12,733.00, you are promised six days of memorizing lines, wardrobe fittings, headshots, a star on your trailer, and professional feedback from the director. (Pretty sure it's going to be positive. You already paid, and Hollywood is all about fake sincerity.) But will anyone really want to see the video of your "very important scene" that you performed with high caliber (and surprisingly available) professionals. No more than anyone will want to hear your extended synth jam to "Tainted Love," mastered under the tutelage of pop stars of yesteryear.

No matter how banal the travels of plebeians, you're still going to have to sit through the photos, videos, and prattle about the best breakfast buffet ever. Here are some hints on how to get through the experience.

Happy Travels.




Copyright © 2008 by Pamela Miller