Spring Break. A time when a lot of people take family vacations to exotic places like Miami, Los Angeles, Lubbock. We ourselves just returned from a week-long trip to Kauai. It was wonderful. The weather was perfect, the flights were on time and the kids were so well behaved, they’ll probably make the Nobel Peace Prize short list this year.
I couldn’t be more depressed.
You see, vacation mishaps are a tradition in my family. My sisters and I saw America from the back seat of a pale green Country Squire station wagon. In the front seat were our parents, embroiled in a bitter map fight that continues to this day.
At least every one of our trips had one minor disaster, like the time we got trapped in the Sturgis, South Dakota biker rally. Or the time our car was towed by a giant, leather-clad San Franciscan man named Dr. Hook. Or the time we were camping in Arizona and all of our down sleeping bags ripped open, covering everyone with sticky, white feathers that had to be sprayed off with ice cold water from the campground hose. Then, of course, there was the legendary New Mexico mud puddle crash of 1978 that was so intense, it permanently sealed shut the wagon’s passenger doors. My dad still doesn't know how that one happened.
I knew my bad trips would continue into adulthood when the highlights of my honeymoon were a hurricane evacuation and an infestation of flying ants. And, of course, kids are born travel problems. I’m still apologizing to the passengers who suffered through a four-hour flight filled with my son’s repeated screams of “We’re going down, brotha!”
However, while I’ve learned that horrible vacations might not make you relaxed, they do make you popular. Come home talking about your great time and nobody gives a crap. But stagger in covered in bruises and lacerations and saying things like, “Thank God for the American embassy” or “You can bet those fuckers at Dollywood ain't never gonna see ME again!" and you’ve got an audience. That's why the real reason I want to visit Mexico has nothing to do with the sun and fun. It's because just one night in Mexican jail and I’m booked on the cocktail party circuit for the next two years.
So to those travelling this spring break, I say “Bon Voyage”. And if anything goes wrong, call me. No, seriously. Call me.
I originally recorded a version of this for broadcast on Austin's NPR station, KUT, in March of 2007.