The sluggard’s sabbatical
This issue, we explore the wandering wastrel and the laybout’s leisure. What is involved in a vagrant’s vacation? How does a loafer take leave? We’ll discuss the deadbeat’s day-off and the framework of the flâneur’s furlough…
Taking a break from taking a break
The vacation is well known for being the time to kick up your feet and enjoy good food, good friends, and good drinks. For an idler, that’s probably just a Tuesday. So how does the wastrel make his or her holiday better than all of their other blissful days of existence?
The vacation is a relatively new idea to us, the unwashed masses. Having existed for only about 100 years, the idea of allowing employees to have significant stretches of “time to themselves” was not only bad business, but borderline heresy. I’m not saying that vacations are new – heavens no! – they’re just new to people who aren’t filthy rich. The aristocratic ennui originating with nobles at court who didn’t have the imagination to enjoy the crushing hours of boredom between meals was, ironically, the motivation behind the first vacations for commoners. Camps were built nearby to British populations where anybody could get away in exchange for about a week’s worth of pay. These getaways were packed with activities like horse riding, racquet sports, archery, and family events to ensure every single minute was actively packed with fun. These camps, and these first vacations, inspired the modern-day getaways we know so well in the western world: days blocked out in 15 minute increments, a stressed out tour-guide named Luis ferrying sun-burned drunkards from photo-op to photo-op.
The drunkards in question, those who can afford these types of vacations (but not the ones who are flying first class) are usually the sort who need a week-long nap and a good therapy session more than a picture of them guzzling a piña colada in Revolution Square.
But not you, you leisurely layabout. You’ve dealt with your demons and now want to make sure that your holiday is better than the other 50 weeks of the year that you spend sleeping in ‘til noon and drinking your lunch.
One of the most contemptible side affects of the ennui felt by the idle rich is the smug sense of entitlement that they wear like a fashion accessory (from Tiffany’s obviously). Not thanking somebody who opens the door for them, pretending the person who powders their wig every morning isn’t even there, and turning up their noses to a perfectly good taquito even though it only fell on the floor once. These people are awful, and during vacation it is more important than ever to completely dissociate yourself from self-awareness. While travelling, one should aim to follow the basic rules of an improv comedy group:
There are no bad decisions on vacation, only bad people with cameras. Never turn down an opportunity to do something you would normally never do.
Ask no questions
Knowledge is built with an inquisitive mind, but a vacation is no time to cultivate knowledge. Instead of asking where your room is or what time your flight leaves, just have another drink, and trust that everything will work out in the end.
Don’t force your plans on others
Just like that half-written screenplay you have, your vacation itinerary isn’t for everybody. Take it easy and don’t get upset when nobody wants to go to a salsa dancing class with you.
Go salsa dancing
Those people can move!
Tell a story
Always keep in mind that, when you get back home, you are going to want to tell everybody how awesome you are at vacations. You’ve heard people who say, “Oh, it was soooo wonderful, I just laid on the beach and drank wine spritzers.” Fine. That does sound wonderful, but you can one-up it by enlisting in a foreign military, fighting a shark, or ordering anything other than a wine spritzer.
Admittedly, some of those rules deviate from actual improv comedy rules, but they can be followed with pretty much any vacation. Best of all they will lead to adventure, and having an adventure is better than your regular vacations or the vacations of anyone you know, probably. You don’t really have to plan to have an adventure – and even if you do, the more the plans fail the more adventure you are having. That’s when you get a story, people!
Sure, when you’ve left all of your foreign currency on the tour bus it really sucks that you can’t buy that domino set from the guy with no teeth. Good luck telling that tale at the next Christmas dinner. But get robbed on some backcountry highway and then you’ll have a story of how you had to sell your clothing to buy food for years to come. Think. Or don’t think – that might work better.