Monday, August 15, 2011

The greatest family vacation ever

By Felix Carroll

… would first and foremost be devoid of vomit.

Leaving would feel like a foot rub for fettered feet.

You would be pointed to a vanishing point that would hold the promise of archeological discoveries of ancient times when you knew how to boogie.

Leaving would be like the first sip of cold beer after digging a ditch. Heads would extend out from open windows even if a cop were on your tail, even if traveling by air. But you would not be traveling by air, would you? No. You would be traveling by car, far enough to feel like an adventure, but close enough … close enough … close enough for what? ...

You would wish to avoid feeling as if you and your family were on the lam. If you started pointing to places on maps, places you cannot pronounce, then you would need more than a vacation, you would need a new life, and there’s nothing relaxing about creating a new life. The kids would vomit a lot.

Maybe you would travel on an unfamiliar road where the townies don’t make you feel like a water buffalo in a koi pond, like you’re breaking and entering. You would imagine gleefully that vacationers from elsewhere are now traveling along your road back home feeling the same thing.

If it’s a familiar road, it would have strange shops you would look forward to visiting each year because they all sell exactly the same thing, like maybe huge, blow-up flotation devices at wildly discounted prices. And each year you would wonder aloud if the shop owners get into fist fights at the quarterly chamber of commerce meetings or maybe the shops are all connected by an underground tunnel system owned by one man, a very strange man.

The road wouldn’t have big box stores because big box stores cause you distress, a distress you hope to pass on to your offspring. If the road does have big box stores, together with the kids you would imagine you have a dashboard-mounted lazar gun that can make big box stores disappear. The lazar would emit a comforting, low-grade hum, like sending a fax to Kingdom Come. All gone. Then, this giant, tree-covered green toupee would fall to the earth and take their place. And you'd toss in a few cows to hold it all down like paperweights. All in all, it would be a clean operation. No one would get hurt.

You would agree that GPS will never be any fun until it can direct you to places you never knew existed. Like maybe a left into a roadless swamp where you meet a pack of pixies who share tiny cups of who-knows-what, but it’s tasty. You would bid them farewell. They would push you back onto asphalt. You would remark how, pound for pound, pixies must be the toughest creatures on earth.

Come on, would you please be serious!

No, not just yet. You would make jokes about going to an exclusive beach resort where cocktail blenders serve as double agents to drown out the distant noise of civil uprising.

Seriously, would you be serious!

Someone would make jokes about leaky tents. Wait! "Let's go camping!" You would promise to pack a wine screw. You would be unanimously shot down. You would not wallow in self-pity.

The talk would turn to a beach vacation. You would be fearful the children would imagine a scene from Berenstain Bears, all of you bounding down from a cedar-shingled beach house and jumping into the water without another soul around. You would worry about unrealistic expectations, gazillion-dollar rentals. An isolated beach would require Hollywood-style site preparation, maybe a neutron bomb.

You would realize your dark thoughts of lazar beams and neutron bombs serve as unimpeachable proof of your need for a vacation.

Leaving would feel like a monsoon to a dirt-burrowed family of African lungfish. You would disembark before dawn.

You would wind up at a motel somewhere half a mile inland in Rhode Island or something, a motel where the seagulls poop all over your car and you don’t care, and you'd find a lobster joint where everything is stupendously expensive and you don’t care, and the kids would swim in the indoor pool because it’s raining and they don’t care.

And two weeks home, you would finally download your photos and you would see yourselves all hamming it up for the lens, and you would think to yourself how much you really like these people and how, generally speaking, the fact that you're a stupid clod is heavily offset by the realization you’re one lucky guy.

It’s the cat, the cat’s the problem.