HUMOR: Writer takes a vacation, and we leave him there

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The advantage of a good work ethic is that you’ve earned your dream vacation, even if you can’t afford it this year. Some people dream of fine sand beaches in exotic locales. For others it’s an adventurous safari in Africa. Mine would be a week in Coeur d’Alene a week before Christmas, which is the only reason I put on pants and walk up to the Mobil station to buy lottery tickets. If they ever invent a time machine I would go back to 1980 and watch my 7-year-old son sled down Cherry Hill.

The most famous vacation I ever had would be the trip I won on “The Dating Game” in 1978 to Bogota, Colombia. I was billed as Biff Nerd, a standup comedy character of mine. I watch it on YouTube whenever I forget having a full head of hair. I didn’t speak a word of Spanish but soon learned, “¿Dónde está el baño?” I was asking everyone in Bogota where the bathroom was even when I didn’t need one because I desperately wanted to talk with people. If you can’t communicate with others, you’re stranded in the deepest labyrinth of loneliness. Sort of like being married to someone who hates football.

The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia is an amazing vacation destination. You have to catch a ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Everyone in Langdale knows you’re a tourist the second you set foot off the ferry because you’re the only one staring at the eagles flying overhead. The air smells like a freshly cut Christmas tree and the scenery is so stunning it’s a driving hazard because you can’t keep your eyes on the road. Hockey is a religion up there so if you’re not a fan, brush up now on the sport.

My favorite vacation would be the six weeks I spent in England with a British lady I met on Facebook. Every day, while Ann Marie was at work, I took long walks, strolling by the Old Manor Pub but never entered, thinking as an outsider I wouldn’t be welcome. I was wrong.

After the first couple of pints, the older patrons and I swapped stories. They described hearing Hitler’s V-1 flying bombs, nicknamed “doodlebugs” because the shutters at the front governing air flow opened and closed 50 times a second, making a bug-like sound. They were only dangerous once you couldn’t hear the buzzing because they had run out of fuel and were indiscriminately falling with a ton of explosives. Who said you can’t learn anything in a pub? I tried telling them a few Hollywood stories but it’s hard to compete with doodlebugs. Whenever I returned they would shout, “American!”

Vacation means different things to different people. For my sister, Judy in Sheboygan, a vacation is time well spent in her garden. For my friend, Pracilla in New Zealand, it’s venturing out to explore another anthropological site in her beloved country. Pracilla is Indiana Jones in fashionable hats.

Don’t let any commercial tell you where you should vacation. When you close your eyes, what place makes you smile? That’s where you should go. Life is short. Vacations even shorter.

This is my last column so I hope you don’t mind my telling you a very funny Beatles story I heard on the Ronnie Wood Show with guest Paul McCartney. John Lennon was almost blind without glasses but would never wear them, especially in front of girls. He and Paul wrote late into the night and then John would walk home, about a mile away.

One night, just before Christmas, Lennon walked home but returned the next day and asked Paul what time they quit the night before. Paul told him about 11:30. Lennon exclaimed, “Up at the corner they were still playing cards outside at midnight!” Paul is surprised so he walked up that night to check it out. It was a nativity scene. What Lennon mistook as two people playing cards were actually statues of Joseph and Mary bent over the manger.

As you’re reading this last column of mine, I’m vacationing in Big Bear, Calif. It’s a bit like Coeur d’Alene without the gun ranges. I love gun ranges. For the past couple of years I’ve escaped Los Angeles, if only briefly, by writing this column because it allowed me to remember what it was like to be living in your Slice of Heaven. I can’t imagine anyone who has visited Coeur d’Alene and doesn’t leave dreaming of a life there.

I’ve read “Letters to the Editor” every day and would often submit my comments. Some of you may have disagreed with me on an issue but it’s always been crystal clear that all of you cherish our First Amendment. The Coeur d’Alene Press gives us this amazing opportunity to express ourselves, no matter what our political or religious stance might be. In the past three years I’ve learned that you people in North Idaho are not only highly intelligent, but brave enough to take a stand for what you believe in. God Bless Coeur d’Alene!

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