Gaylord Guenin: News Flash: Vacations are supposed to be fun
The Fourth of July has come and gone and that is perfectly OK with me.
I love my home in Lenado and being a part of the Woody Creek community, but the approach of the Fourth always ignites within me an urgent desire to get away to just about anywhere.
Philadelphia always comes to mind as a Fourth of July destination. It is filled with history related to this nation’s independence and the folks there also make a dynamite sandwich (you know what I’m talking about – it’s the Philadelphia cheese steak, a sandwich imitated everywhere in the nation but never quite duplicated). But it seems as if Philadelphia is farther and farther away each year. I don’t know, maybe the distance hasn’t changed but my age has.
This annual desire to flee Woody Creek around the Fourth is stimulated in part by the fact that this is the time of the year when the valley begins to fill with Republicans, at least that is my interpretation of their political identity.
These invaders could be Democrats, or Socialists, or Fascists or maybe even Communists, assuming any of them are still around, but I doubt it very much because these are people without personalities. As unfair as it may be, I tend to lump those who are personality-impaired with members of the GOP. It just seems to me that Democrats have always had more fun than Republicans. The last Democrat to sit in the White House, for instance, most certainly had lots of fun while he was there. Admittedly, he almost was impeached as a result of his philandering but he must have had a few giggles.
The current occupant of that house seems to get his kicks dressing up in military outfits, which doesn’t strike me as being much fun; a tad weird, perhaps, and a bit unsettling, but it fails to fall into a category I would call fun.
At any rate, I didn’t go to Philadelphia (I was unsure my 1980 Wagoneer would survive the trip). I just kind of hung around the Woody Creek Tavern to watch the invasion. And while many of our annual visitors seem not to be having much fun, I find them quite entertaining.
Part of the enjoyment I gain from the scene is the strange contradiction of watching people who obviously are on vacation but seem not to be taking any pleasure from their outings. It is a puzzle. Vacations are supposed to be a time when the vacationer suspends all activities related to work, much as recess was a grade school period designed for play and not for study.
Yet today’s vacationers arrive armed with the one item that tethers them to a workplace of one sort or another – the cell phone. And for some inexplicable reason, there seems to be the belief that one must speak louder than normal when using a cell phone, which means that onlookers like me can easily eavesdrop on conversations. Thus the onlooker becomes something of an interloper, and without much effort we can trespass on someone else’s conversations.
I have poached many a phone conversation in and around the Woody Creek Tavern, and it is clear that most tend to be business-related. Vacations were designed so that we could “get away” from the tedium of our workplace lives; yet, thanks to our technology, we drag the workplace and the tedium along with us. It is no wonder so many visitors seem not to be having a good time!
There also is a sense among many of the visitors that they are not being shown the respect that they believe is their due. Our valley attracts an unusually affluent class, individuals who are accustomed to being catered to, to being treated with special deference, which can create problems in a place such as Woody Creek.
The Tavern staff treats everyone with deference but does so in a egalitarian manner, which is not pleasing to someone who holds a special place within his own circle of friends and associates and expects to be treated “differently” than the masses. You can see all of this in faces as individuals and groups arrive, only to discover they are not to be escorted to the front of the line. Equality is not what anyone in this crowd is looking for, thus the haughty and arrogant demeanor they demonstrate upon arriving is transformed into pouts that would make 3-year-olds envious.
It is difficult to figure out why visitors who spend thousands of dollars to spend a few days in our little valley prefer sulking to having a few laughs. But I exaggerate, of course. The majority of visitors to Woody Creek probably do have a great time, otherwise they wouldn’t keep returning; it is just that those who aren’t having fun stand out so completely from the crowd.
The summer crowds are something of a pain and the hordes of rental-bike riders on River Road can ignite road rage, but I really do hope most of those folks are having fun. All you have to remember is that a vacation truly is nothing more than a recess for adults from the miserable tedium of second grade.
This is the 289th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where having “too much fun” is just a quiet beginning for the fun that is yet to come.
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