OF TOURISTS AND LOCUSTS...
“Behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory, and they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one can see the land. And they shall eat what is left to you... and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day...”
Exodus 10: 4-6
As I anticipate the upcoming thirtieth glorious year I have lived here in lovely Palm Springs, my mind overfloweth with appalling visions of crowded sidewalks, congested streets, overflowing restaurants, clogged traffic, lumbering RVs signaling left from the right turn lane, jam-packed movie theaters, supermarket aisles swarming with pallid Midwesterners buying cheap Styrofoam beer coolers and fluorescent green float noodles... in short, all the horrendous mental pictures that can only mean one thing: once again, inevitably, it’s TOURIST SEASON!!
Dammit to hell! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr...
Do I sound like a crusty, cranky, misanthropic old curmudgeon? Good, because that’s exactly what I am... at least from October, when the weather cools and the tourists arrive, through the end of May, when the intensifying solar furnace finally scares away the few remaining vacationeers (‘snowbirds’), who mistakenly consider daytime temperatures of 101° to be “hot”. (We long-term locals don’t even take notice below 110°.) Then –Hallelujah!– the roads clear, the crowds vanish, the birdies sing (until they collapse from heatstroke) and peace reigns once more in our sleepy little desert paradise.
Of course, a churlish attitude like mine is distinctly at odds with those of the city fathers, merchants, and restaurateurs, whose livelihoods more-or-less depend on this annual invasion by multitudes of cash-dispensing out-of-towners. Yeah, I get it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I mean, how would you feel being mired in traffic behind a behemoth Winnebago from
Saskatchewan going half the speed limit and
slowing down to gawp at every Burger King as if it’s the Taj Mahal?? Trust me,
you wouldn’t, especially when it transforms what would be a ten-minute drive
during off-season into an hour-long patience-shredding nightmare.
Meanwhile, since I really don’t want to stroke out from road rage, over the years I have adopted certain survival techniques to keep from losing my mind: First, whenever I’m compelled to venture forth into the tourist maelstrom, I’ve learned to stick to hidden back roads and out-of-the-way routes; which, while longer distance-wise, at least aren’t frozen into near immobility like the main thoroughfares. Also, I have gotten to the point where even from a distance I can instantly recognize –and execute fast lane-changes to avoid– many of the alien license plates, especially those from states where everyone, and I do mean everyone, seems to be in desperate need of remedial driving lessons. (The worst of these odious plates sports a detestable little green tree; every time I spot one, I can feel my blood pressure exploding upward.)
But you know what’s really odd? Despite this systemic antipathy toward tourists, I have actually spent most of my life living in various vacation destinations: St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands; Eilat, on the shores of the Red Sea in Israel; New York City (a brobdingnagian concrete termite’s nest but nonetheless a tourist mecca for sure); and even Washington D.C., where nary a day goes by when the entire metro area isn’t smothered under a tidal wave of visitors. Come to think of it, the only time I truly escaped the tourist hordes was when I lived by myself on a small family farm in
Northern Virginia: twenty-five acres, me, my cat, some
cows, and blessed peace... “Far from
the madding crowd”, as it were.
Now, by way of being somewhat less of a grouch, I suppose I could –should?– try to feel a bit more welcoming toward all these goggling, clueless, perpetually lost, sunburned, camera-toting, traffic-jamming, beer-quaffing, economy-stimulating human locusts... but no, I’d better not. My Malcontent Certification is coming up for renewal, and I can’t take a chance on it being revoked.
In conclusion, let me say this: If you’re ever thinking about coming to
my advice is... don’t. Just say ‘no’. Please. It’s not all that great, anyway. Would
I lie? Dusty, hot, boring... Seriously, why not go somewhere really interesting, like Tristan da Cunha?
Y’all be good (or not),