I have some critical advice for your next vacation.
I figured this out from deciding to vacation in British Columbia. Big mistake.
It was gorgeous and loads of fun out there. Alpine mountains, pristine lakes, endless evergreens. We hiked, biked, kayaked, and hot-springed it.
What's the problem?
When you get home from a vacation like that, your crowded concrete neighborhood bobbing in humid pollution and your deathly insipid job seem especially unbearable.
Yet that's what you have to live with for 50 weeks a year.
This is backwards. People insist on having fun, in beautiful locations, during the 4% of time they spend on vacation. Then by comparison the remaining 96% of their lives seem like they're living inside an Edvard Munch painting.
Here's a better idea. Go somewhere ugly and do objectionable things, so that when you get back, you'll be astoundingly appreciative of your life circumstances.
How ugly and objectionable your trip should be depends on your current life.
If you're a retired 40-year-old who lives in a Hamptons mansion and bathes in Evian, the vacation you should take isn't that bad.
You could just swing an RV down to Wilmington, bring only two of your servants, and listen to a William Shatner CD all the way through. After returning, the daily massages and catered meals will seem much less tedious.
But let's face it. Most of us live in an OK house and work too hard at a job that we'd all gladly trade in just to see Halle Berry finally get it over with and get naked. Add in our various responsibilities, like keeping children alive, maintaining the OK house, wading through Spam, and exercising constantly to avoid the disease of the week.
Now it becomes clear what vacation you should take to make all this look good.
You're going to need some rope. And registration in a witness protection program. You may never find out how these two things fit into the vacation, but they're important for the instillation of fear.
Take only the clothes on your back for the two weeks; clean clothes are too reminiscent of comfort.
Travel by night only, sleeping by day in the sewers. Your final destination will be revealed by a small yet rotund deli owner placed in a strategic location.
When you get to this Place That Shall Not Be Named, you will do hard labor 20 hours a day – backbreaking, smelly tasks--for too little water and small portions of expired Jello salad.
You'll be allowed no communication with anyone you know. You'll never see the sun. You'll get one bathroom break a day.
Two weeks will seem like two months.
But then you'll be led, a shell of a human, back to the light of your former life. The one you lived in a shuffle between the OK house with the "demanding" family and the "boring" job. You'll never be so grateful to see a sink full of dirty dishes or a nine-page memo about possible direct-mail strategies. You will run through the streets hallelujah'ing your glorious lot in life.
This, I'm telling you, is the new face of the ultimate 21st century vacation.
And if everybody would please just follow this plan, it'll keep all of you damn tourists out of my favorite retreats.
But, I digress.