Have you ever taken one of those vacations where you need a vacation after the vacation? You spend your time “off” running from place to place, with an agenda full of to-do lists, must-see attractions, and general knee-bent-running around business, until enjoying the attractions themselves becomes less important than crossing them off your lists?
I just returned from the opposite of that vacation.
Every summer, I vamoose with The Lovely Becky’s family to the beaches of North Carolina. We rent a house by the ocean on a fairly quiet island. I have made it a habit to leave everything behind when I go: work, the Intertubes, e-mail, even writing. Instead, I head into the surf, crack open books, crack open beers, and generally let myself completely relax for one week out of the year. No other vacation ever leaves me so prepared to stop being on vacation.
This year was fairly uneventful, unlike last year’s Adventures in Skim Boarding. No sharks, no dolphins, no real drunkenness. There were a couple amusing moments:
We showed my in-laws the video for Dick in a Box. They had never seen it, so TLB fired up YouTube and played it for them. As the video rapped through its first couple of verses toward its namesake chorus and Justin Timberlake popped the lid on a box attached to his crotch, my mother-in-law said, “Wait, what’s in the box?” Only someone so completely unaware of the punchline could have delivered that question with such perfect comic timing.
The other amusing thing was seeing a young man—a seemingly heterosexual male who appeared to be there with his girlfriend—with a lower-back tattoo. Now, having lived in a Big Ten college town for six years, I’ve seen this lumbar lure quite a bit. And not once, whether it was at a bar or at a fiction reading or at church, have I seen a guy lean over and reveal an ornate arrow leading to his ass.
Most straight men, at one time or other, obsess over appearing gay. I am not too bad about it. I freely admit that I like shopping, Project Runway, and using fancy salon products in my hair. But seeing a lower-back tattoo on a guy? It's practically screaming I want you to look at my hiney and then make sexy time.
It was…well, confusing. He seemed perfectly straight, splashing around with his female companion. He had no other tattoos, just this one. His girlfriend had no matching tattoo which might explain some drunken couples excursion to the tattoo parlor that lead to an inky bond between them. Was there some O. Henry-esque story here, where he got the tattoo on a bet to raise enough money so his girlfriend could have her lower-back tattoo removed, only to learn that his girlfriend sold her hair to raise the money so that her boyfriend wouldn’t have to get a stupid lower-back tattoo? I would have asked him, but I also considered that he might have gotten it in prison, and I'm...well, a guy who likes to get home from shopping in time to watch Project Runway.
Anyway, I had no really embarrassing pictures of me this year, but in downloading the pictures from the trip, I did find this one, from an earlier jaunt to Lake Geneva with TLB’s college friends.
Yes, that’s me with a pitcher of piña coladas. Yes, I am chugging straight from it. Yes, I graduated from college fifteen years ago. But hey, I was on vacation in Wisconsin. I was just trying to fit in.
And let me tell you, after that, I needed a vacation from the cold headache alone.