22 hours ago
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Character Formation: Family Vacation
You see the flickering screens in every vacation bound minivan on the summer highway. Children, strapped and clipped and tied to Houdini proof seats, sit mesmerized, eating goldfish crackers by the hypnotized handful. Laughing, cavorting cartoon figures dance in front of glazed eyes and scream into earbuds parked in tiny ears while parents luxuriously listen to anything that isn't the Madagascar soundtrack. It is so sad.
When I was a kid, my family vacations prepared me for life in the real world. Numerous brothers and sisters and I squeezed into every inch of our seatbelt optional station wagon. We preferred fighting, but occasionally banded together in bouts of silly comraderie that made our parents long for discord.
We jiggled the skin of our throats to produce an unnatural vibrato as we sang the same song over and over. We took turns passing gas and lying about it. We ignored each other and tried to read. We read over each other's shoulders in the time honored method to drive someone crazy. We accused each other of having a girlfriend/boyfriend, naming the most disgusting person we could think of; notorious glue and booger eaters, kids who actually ate the stewed prunes on their cafeteria trays, weirdos who liked Mr. Spock better than Captain Kirk.
We pinched each other, we practiced armpit farts, formed and broke alliances. We begged mom to stop for ice cream, we begged dad to stop so we could pee. His response was always the same "We'll stop when your teeth start to float."
We negotiated, we endured, we loved and hated each other through miles of countryside in which we occasionally accidentally observed what our parents had brought us miles to see. We ended our vacation stronger and wiser.
I'd be willing to bet that Survivorman got his early training in a crowded station wagon, wedged in between smelly siblings on a 1000 mile road trip without a DVD player.
Eating lizards is nothing in comparison.