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If You're Allowed in a McDonalds You Aren't Really on Vacation

by Douglas Page

We take separate vacations now. We tried it the other way for years but one of us was always miserable. Me. The problem is logistics. My wife chooses resorts by their closet size. Last year we spent a week in Palm Springs. She took so many bags the children thought they were being abandoned. It took fewer wagons to haul borax across the Mojave.

Packing for a vacation makes no sense. Done correctly, you should unpack for a vacation. See the problem?

What's it a vacation from if you have to take a bunch of clothes with you, if you have to plan where to be and what to wear? Regular days are like that. Vacation days should be different. It's the regular days that are being vacated. Someone should look into this.

We only need two vacation rules:

1. If you are found near a clothes hanger you are fined.

2. If you actually use the clothes hanger you are sent home. Period.

The whole vacation concept is wasted on anyone worried about wrinkles on clothing. You'll just be in the way. If you're allowed in McDonalds you aren't really on vacation.

This is the way a vacation should work.

You get to go where you want, when you want, dressed the way you want.

You are allowed to take nothing on vacation from the regular routine. That means no clocks, razors, or clothes you can't leave on the floor or tie around your waist.

Anything requiring a belt, button, or battery - especially cell phones, pagers, and beepers - will be confiscated by the Vacation Police.

My wife won't even discuss it anymore. She likes to dress up on vacation, not down. She doesn't go on vacation to give herself a break, she goes on vacation to give fashion briefings.

She likes to be comfortable, too, but to her feeling good requires looking good. Looking good requires a wardrobe. A packing enterprise of this complexity requires organization. She has a system. She takes it all.

The countdown begins 10 days prior to departure when the checklists appear. Each vacation day is planned and clothing changes are charted on graph paper. For each day away she plans two or three complete clothing changes, including shoes and other accents. Five days on the road can equal 15 or more different outfits. I don't change that often in a month. At home.

Merely collecting the items on the list takes the final 72 hours. It gets tense. She hears none of the disparagement about bivouac, mules, and moving vans. Sorties to the dry cleaners takes both cars and an entire Tuesday.

Then the assemblage has to be folded, tagged, and bagged. She is very thorough, retrieving each item, then checking it off the list. The spare bedroom is surrendered for the staging area, where outfits are sorted and assembled by day and event.

Accessories are located next. Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, scarfs, pins, watches. She will take more belts on one trip than I will own in a lifetime.

Each outfit is like a queen, with its own swarm of attendants, selected by color and function.

A Farmer's Almanac is consulted, climate statistics are studied and layering options are considered. Jackets, sweaters, coats, and hats appear, prioritized by seasonal probabilities. The result is a cache for every contingency. The moon shots took less planning.

The clock collection is gathered and tested. Spare batteries are purchased. These timing items are necessary because hotel wake-up calls are automated and all automated systems have the same fatal flaw: if the power goes out you could miss a nail appointment.

The benefit of these schemes will be nullified, of course, if the makeup is out of sync, so she brings along a kit to correct for this.

Calling this a makeup kit is like calling Donald Trump an investor. This isn't a kit, it's a fully equipped salon - a walk-in chiffonnier of creams for dry skin, chapped skin, sun burn, and razor burn; chemicals for the treatment of eye brows, eye lids, and eye lashes; plus tubes, tools, and tints for toe nails, finger nails, lips, cheeks, chin, and hair. Some school chemistry labs are not this well stocked. It has appliances for drying, curling, ironing, and steaming.

Attached to the salon pantry is the M.A.S.H bunker, stocked with remedies for attacks of insects, sinus, insomnia, diarrhea, gas, constipation, tooth ache, head ache, muscle ache, muscle pulls, blisters, boils, fever, flu, tension, hunger, dandruff, and hemorrhoids. I didn't know Palm Springs was this dangerous.

A subset of the salon and dispensary never leaves her possession. She carries a 48-hour emergency ration of creams and cures, plus a complete change of clothing, with her at all times in the event her luggage is mistaken for a C.A.R.E. shipment and her wardrobe and auxiliary trunks end up in Somalia.

When travel day arrives the Sherpas are called and the luggage caravan leaves the house. All the luggage. Grips, bags, wardrobes, trunks, and suitcases, to say nothing of the Imelda Memorial Shoe Trailer, which has so many wheels it's registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Vacation Police could have stopped it.

The neighbors thought we were going to Africa. I thought we were going on vacation.

It's different now. Now I go alone.

Those stagnant people shuffling around the streets with the inert look? They aren't all homeless. Some of us are just on vacation.


Comments? Questions? Assignments? douglaspage@earthlink.net
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