Maxed Out 

Trouble with paradise


There’s trouble in paradise. Well, not exactly trouble. Come to think of it, not exactly paradise either. But there is definitely friction in two of the nicest places I’ve ever lived.

The source of the friction, which has yet to heat up enough to spontaneously combust, is travel, or rather my growing distaste for travel. In itself, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. But coupled, as it is, with my Perfect Partner’s intense, single-minded, almost compulsive desire to travel – I have actually discovered her Googling destinations for future trips while sitting in internet cafes in faraway lands – and my desire to be a supportive, upbeat, go-with kind of guy… well, I think the trouble in paradise is pretty clear.

It rose to the surface most recently when she gushed over the description of a trip to Africa.

PP: "Wow! Listen to this. Travel… savannah… wild animals… thatched treehouses… king of beasts…."

I don’t know for certain what words filled in the gaps but given the glossy nature of the magazine she was reading I’m certain it verily flowed with superlatives designed to make you want to pack your bags, oil your safari rifle and throw yourself into a Land Rover.

Me: "Sounds appalling."

PP: "What!"

Me: "Appealing. Sounds appealing."

PP: "That’s not what you said."

No, that’s what I should have said. That’s what I would have said had I been paying more attention, given the matter half a thought or remembered to flip my Spousal Survival switch to Automatic.

Me: "GREAT IDEA!!!!"

The funny thing about enthusiasm is this: Timed just a moment too late, it sounds remarkably like sarcasm. Had I a goose, it would have been cooked.

So the problem, clearly and singularly mine, is how to get enthusiastic about doing something I have remarkably little interest in – going places, seeing things. This problem is made all the more intractable because I don’t actually mind going places and seeing things. It’s all the other crap that accompanies going places and seeing things I hate.

Stepping into an airport, in fact getting anywhere near an airport, tops the list. This is unfortunate since it seems inevitably to be the first step to exotic travel, exotic being more or less defined as some place you can’t possibly get to by car, itself a form of travel becoming less and less attractive.

Air travel used to be just degrading. I marvel that there actually was a time when air travel was considered exotic, luxurious and, yes, special. I don’t know how bad it’s gotten with the latest round of restrictions on what you can and can’t take on board airplanes but I do know it hasn’t gotten better. In fact, the only saving grace left – until three weeks ago – was the very comforting knowledge one could commence pounding scotch as soon as one found a seat in the waiting area and be more or less insensate by the time one boarded the cattle car to Hell. With that little civilizing escape snatched away in the name of homeland security, one is left with pleading with one’s doctor for high-test sedatives to keep from throttling the screaming child kicking the back of one’s seat. What a great way to begin, and end, one’s travels to paradise.

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