Been there, done that

It used to be that people traveled for pleasure. Now they travel for status. It’s the same reason why people spend $250,000 to $500,000 for a suborbital trip in space or $50 million per seat to actually orbit the earth. When the travel snobs come home they’re left with much lighter wallets, a tan and 5,000 photos on their iPhone they insist on showing me. 

PLEASE, next time just send me a postcard.

I admit it, I’m not a world traveler. No one has ever described me as being “cosmopolitan.” The only foreign countries I’ve been to are Canada, Fiji (to refuel), Australia and several times to Mexico. These days you’d have to hold a gun to my head to make me go to Mexico… which some drug cartel member probably would do. 

I’m a card-carrying member of the Infrequent Flyer’s Club because I’ve already been everywhere I wanted to go. I’ve seen the pyramid, the Eiffel Tower and ridden in a gondola all in Las Vegas and I went to Europe, South America, Africa and Asia all on one trip to Disneyland where I rode the It’s A Small World ride. I’ve been to Chinatown in three different cities and why go all the way to Monaco to lose all my money on a craps table when I can accomplish the same thing at an Indian casino. If I want to get indigestion eating Thai cooking, authentic Chinese food, foie gras, caviar and truffles I can do that 30 minutes from my house so why do I need to spend $20,000 to go half way around the world? And I can be fairly certain I’m not eating Fido.

My wife and I have a travel snob friend we call Horrible Harriet who just got back from a foray to the “continent”, which is Europe to the “plane-folk.” Upon her return she couldn’t wait to ask me, “Lee, have you ever been to Paris?”

“Sure, I replied. “I’ve been to Paris, Idaho, and once I went with my old man to Paris, Calif., to buy a reefer to pull behind his Kenworth. I must say I found Paris, Idaho, to be much more cultivated and urbane. Would you like to see my snapshots?”

“Don’t be such a simpleton,” said Horrible. “I assure you that visiting Berlin, Germany, expands your horizons far more than visiting Berlin, Okla. We also went back to Athen’s this summer which one can never tire of. By the way, have you ever been there?”

“Sure, I’ve been to Athens, Texas. In fact I’ve had a lot of memorable foreign experiences in Eden, Geneva, Iraan, Italy, London and Tokio all without leaving Texas. And I bet I couldn’t have eaten chicken fried steak and drank lots of sweet tea in the Athens you went to. And the people are a whole lot nicer and most of them even speak a little English.”

Such talk was heresy and drove Horrible absolutely nuts. “Our next excursion we’ll be off to Peru to see Machu Picchu,” she said. “I don’t suppose you’ve ever been to Peru?”

“Harriet, don’t take me for some sort of country bumpkin. I was in Peru, Kan., long before you ever heard of the place. In fact, you can see much of the world in Kansas, including Geneva, Stuttgart, Zurich and a place that might do you a lot of good called Climax.”

“How about Cuba, have you seen all the old American cars there or heard the lilt of their brand of Spanish?” asked Horrible.

“I assure you, you can see and hear the same thing in Cuba, N.M., while not breaking any laws to go there

I know Harriet that you’ve been all over the globe and consider yourself worldly but I’ve seen Genoa (Nev.), Guernsey, (Wyo.), Bethlehem (Ga.), Lisbon, (Conn.), Cairo, (Ala.), Normandy (Ill.) and Westminster (Colo.) all without hopping on a plane and without being mugged and molested by TSA officials. If I want to go places to be despised, taken advantage of and to someplace where they speak a foreign language I can do all that in Los Angeles or New York. In fact, rather than going through all the hassles of international travel that you’ve endured just for bragging rights I’d rather go to Purgatory. The one in Colorado, that is.”

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Lee Pitts

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