Thursday, July 3, 2003

Moveable Beasts

The problem with giving kids unusual names is that you'll never be able to find any personalized tchotchkes for them when you go out of town. Which means you'll be taking little Sassafras or Jambalaya with you wherever you go, because, let's face it: they've already got their own baggage ("No, my parents don't do drugs; 'Sassafras' happens to be a family name.")

Of course, on some level, you already knew this. Just as you knew that, while genuine Swiss chocolate or sabots or souvenir slot machines are always appreciated, nothing says "I thought of you the whole time I was away" like a keychain or mousepad or license plate with their name on it. So you take them with you.

And, for the first 13 years or so, you can't imagine why you ever went anywhere without them. Prairie dogs, pyramids, poi - they're all just a little more delightful when seen (or tasted) with children. Even the "mid-sized" Primus the rental car agency gave you is fun, never mind that the air conditioner doesn't work and the radio's stuck on the Grand Ole Opry channel.

When you bring the kids, you take the tours you wouldn't normally take and learn things you wouldn't have learned if you'd left them at home. After all, you know what the Mona Lisa looks like; why spend two hours in line for a two-minute peek at it when you can spend two hours at the hands-on museum down the street? Where everything says "please touch?"

When the kids are along, you snorkel and visit aquariums to see "fishes painted by God." You say things like "mon" and learn all about dreadlocks. You giggle at all the topless sunbathers, and boy, does it feel good.

For the first 13 years or so, bringing the kids means never having to say you're sorry - for playing with the bidet, making faces at the Bobbies, mimicking the mimes, gagging on the haggis, or for just being an ugly American.

But then, without so much as a how-do-you-do, the kids start acting less kid-like. They start acting like, well, the way you used to act. The stamps on their passports are no longer magical, they're just stamps. They take their shoes off without being asked, placing them next to their GameBoys or CD players or laptops in the "bins provided" by airport security. They stop looking out windows and start demanding aisle seats. They don't waggle their fingers behind each other's heads when posing for pictures. They don't save their francs or yen or cute little guilders, they spend them - usually on magazines to read by the pool.

And, like the desert-wandering Israelites of yore, they complain. Not a lot, mind you; not enough to make you think that they, too, were stuck on a 40-year family vacation. But enough to make you realize that the Talmud was on to something: "Travel," it says, "is only enjoyable in moderation."

Of course, I'd amend that to say "group travel." And I have (amended it to say that.) Many times. But then, I'll get the pictures back from some family junket or watch the kids sleeping and I'm ashamed of myself. How could I ever go anywhere without little Sassafras or Jambalaya?

The answer is, I can't. They're always going to be with me; they're part of the journey.

Whoever said excess was wretched must have had rocks in his head. That, or one too many middle seats.

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1 Comments:

At January 30, 2009 11:52 AM , Blogger Stevie said...

While in the desert pray for Manna. Oh crap it goes bad in that damn broken fridge box as well.

My little Lavoris was so cute. WHen asked where she got her name she always practiced what I taught her well. That was to tell the inquirer to simply mind their own damn business.

I wish that I would have traveled to far away places and worried about the aisle seat, but you see I now have a phobia of non union pilots during airline strikes. Much applied to the time where I lost 2 years from my, already now average 72 year life span, when the idiot ticket sales puke attacked the Reno Airport during a pilot walkout flight I was cursed with experiencing before Lavoris was done born.

Now I a thought doth pass by gas;

Hail to the Chief, but honestly, Didn't I see the gal with the Gone With The Wind dress made form the plantations living room drapes on the Live and Let Die VooDoo dance scene swooning over Roger Moore?

"I swear I will never go hungry again."

Oh Shut the hell up Lavoris and eat your damn Manna.

 

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