Bracing for that most terrifying experience — vacation

y the time you read this, the entire Chartock group will be back from vacation in Italy.

That is, we hope we’re back. I am the kind of person who concentrates on all the things that could possibly go wrong. You know exactly what I mean. Airplanes always make me nervous despite the fact that it is far more dangerous to drive a car.

There is that moment of recognition when the middle seat is occupied by someone of great girth who insists that both armrests belong to him. How about the mother whose kid screams and screams? Will she get up and walk around with the child? Noooo. Then there is the talker who exceeds good taste by nonstop chatter. Of course, that’s just the beginning.

What about the anxiety of getting to the airport on time or making connections or getting through security? How about the religious zealot who causes bedlam because his or her religion doesn’t permit sitting near someone of the opposite sex and who won’t let the plane go until someone gives up their seat to make the guy happy?

Obviously you can’t take the dog with you so you worry about the dog. Fortunately, we have a very formidable house/dog sitter to take care of things, but if you’re neurotic, that doesn’t really help you relax.

There’s the garden that you have slaved over day and night. I am at war with the weeds and have been called out by the lovely Roselle for insisting that not one weed should be allowed to live. The anxious traveler will imagine that by the time he returns, the evil ferns and other vegetation will have taken over the place where the beautiful garden once stood.

And if the weeds don’t do it, the day that you leave for vacation there is guaranteed to be a once in a thousand years drought that will kill all the plants that have broken your bank account at (the) Wards.

I haven’t even mentioned the ISIS crazies and their penchant for going to tourist frequented areas. I spend a lot of time imagining what I might do if I saw a guy with a submachine gun or an assault rifle coming at my family. I’d have to figure out a way to kill them.

Then there is the weight thing. I must stay thin otherwise my hiatal hernia will act up and force acid into my esophagus. That could result in death. Italy is one big carbohydrate heaven. The rest of the family will be eating spaghetti and meat sauces. For me that’s akin to committing suicide. It’s bad enough having to eat salad alone but it is really unfair to have to do it while the others are stuffing their faces with the good stuff. I have a very good friend who does not have a hiatal hernia. He claims that he has to eat a lot before he goes so that his stomach will be expanded enough to hold more food otherwise he claims that he night get sick from a distended stomach.

Did I leave the stove on? Did I bring everything I could possibly need? How about the meds? What about a bathing suit that you will never need? What if your wife says that she has to get just one more thing around the corner and leaves you sitting there for THREE hours? Obviously that would never happen. What about work? Will it continue without me? If it does is that a good thing?

I haven’t even left yet and as always, I am scared to death. Past experiences prove that once I get there and unwind, I have a wonderful time and resolve to do it more often. How soon we forget. Vacations can be terrifying.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 7/11/15

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