Column

Tourist Season: Let the vacationing begin

At last, we’ve arrived at Swimsuit City. Let the vacationing begin.

We were supposed to be here yesterday, but we missed our connecting flight because someone tried to bring their comfort donkey on the plane. There was some confusion at the gate as to whether that was allowed, and if it was, whether the donkey would have to buy a seat of its own. And could it sit in the exit row?

Somewhere in the kerfuffle, our luggage was sent to Beach Ball City instead of Swimsuit City. The airline said we should get it back in a couple of days. But, hey, let’s not spoil things! We’re on vacation.

The taxi to the hotel took the scenic route past hotel after hotel, condo after condo, all with names like Ocean View, Ocean Breeze, Ocean Waves, Sea Foam, Sea View, Sea Breeze, Sea Wave, Dune View and The Dunes – all of them blocking our view of the ocean. The names were starting to make me seasick.

On the other side of the road from the hotels was the strip mall. Sunglass City, Panama Hat City, Made in Pakistan City, Umbrella Town, Pancake City, Waffleville, Double-the-Price of Things at Your Hometown Grocery Store City, Sunscreen City, Trinket City, Souvenir City, T-Shirt City and Ye Olde Rent a Paddleboard, which is right next to Ye Olde Rent a Jet Ski to Mow Down Paddleboarders. After about half a mile, the store names start to repeat. It seems the worst thing that could happen to a person in Swimsuit City is go to the beach and sit in the sun without a hat, sunglasses, an umbrella and a waffle. Maybe we should have gone to No Beach City. We would have saved a lot of money.

Our hotel was called “Dune Walk.” I’m guessing it’s named that because it was about a half-mile walk to the dunes. But it had three stars: one for each bullet hole in our balcony window.

We passed hundreds of restaurants with catchy names and clever come-ons such as, “You know our food is fresh because we have fishing nets hanging in the dining room!” “Home of the Catfish Hot Dog!” “If It Ain’t Fried, We Don’t Have It!” and “Kids Eat for Free!” Why, oh, why did we forget to have kids? They must be such a money-saver.

There is an old-timey plane towing a banner up and down the waterfront all day, proclaiming, “Day-Old Clams! One Dollar a Bucket!”

After a short walk down Shopping Avenue, Sue said, “Can’t we buy swimsuits at home? For about half the price?”

“Stop complaining,” I said, “We’re on vacation. That’s part of the excitement: paying double for the same stuff we could get at home and wondering if you’ll be able to afford to eat once you get back.”

Sue acted as if she hadn’t heard me. “And why would I want a T-shirt that says ‘Swimsuit City’ that costs twice as much as a plain T-shirt at home?”

“But a plain shirt wouldn’t tell people that you had been to Swimsuit City!”

“Yes,” she said, “I would have to use my mouth to tell them that. What was I thinking?”

“Exactly,” I said. “You’re thinking like a nonvacationing person. What do you think, do these clam-diggers look good on me?”

“Well, if you took off the flip-flops, wore a shirt with a collar and dumped the Panama hat, you’d still look ridiculous.”

“Thanks. I’ll take them.”

“Can you put him and the pants in a bag?” Sue asked the clerk. I don’t think she was getting into the spirit of the thing. Some people just don’t know how to relax. Or maybe she wasn’t feeling well.

“Are you OK?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m fine. It’s just something that I married disagrees with me.”

• Jim Mullen is a syndicated columnist. Email him at mullen.jim@gmail.com.

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