"The Best and Worst of Times"
Humor by Tom McLaughlin
In the eternal debate over teacher's salaries, the idea of "they have the summer off" always seems to rear its ugly head. However, here in Worcester County, they cannot use that moniker because almost everyone has the late fall, winter and early spring to lounge around, awaiting the return of the tourists.
Costa Rica seems to be the "in" place and hordes of locals are packing their bags for a vacation in the sunny Caribbean. They usually travel in late January because the private school has a weeklong winter break and everyone has made reservations during that period.
Locals, as they call themselves, seem to want to travel together and stay at the same place. The kids, who hang together in Ocean City or Berlin, will hang together in Costa Rica. Parents who socialize together want be with each other in the Caribbean.
I certainly would not want to travel with the same people I live with. The dynamics simply do not work. For example, there may be a husband who enjoys the company of the other husband; but one wife can't stand the other. Regardless of the hints dropped, the hated woman hasn't a clue. She always wants the next lounge chair, share a taxi to the gift shop, or borrow a magazine. Your spouse threatens to trade labels on the bottles of sunscreen from #30 to #4 so her unwanted companion will get fried and have to stay in the room.
The men also may complain because their golfing buddy, who chats through an entire eighteen holes, unnerves everyone. In Ocean City he goes home but here at the resort he is still around at dinner and later at nightclubs. And to make matters worse, he always beats you by one hole. And brags about it. By midweek you have chummed the surf for sharks and then suggest he go for a swim.
Then there are the children. Your daughter's best friend is the one kid on the planet you absolutely can't stand. And she is always in your room, hanging on at every meal and tagging to excursions from one hotel to the next. One hopes the Caribe Indians, who ate the Spaniards in the 1500's, are still around as you have dinner for them. You wish the dormant volcano would begin erupting for a questionable virgin sacrifice as you are not too sure about her condition and hope she hasn't give your daughter any ideas.
Of course, you have convinced yourself this holiday will be an educational experience. In reality, on the flight home, everyone knows the location of the ice machine, the game room and think the maid's name is the Prime Minister. When asked about San Jose, they are convinced the national capital is a drink served at the beachside bar. The rain forest surrounds the pool. The limbo is the national dance. The only fauna known is the "Yellow Bird" everyone sings about.
The plane lands at BWI and everyone agrees to trade photos. Only the hated woman and the braggart golfer send you pictures which you and your wife promptly delete. The daughters' girlfriend gives birth to a child who bears a remarkable resemblance to the native lifeguard.
Quietly, on the Internet, in the dark of night, cruise arrangements are made for next year's vacation. Credit card numbers are sent for the non- refundable deposit. A vow of silence sworn to oneself is broken during a many-beer Super Bowl game. Cell phones open and light the room, blinding the 56-inch screen. Word travels throughout the community. It starts all over again.