Traveler or tourist?

I wish I could communicate to my 16-year-old daughter that I have not always been the King of All Dorks, that there was a time when I traveled differently, a time when I would have never been seen ambling splay-footed down some tourist boulevard in T shirt and ballcap, craning my neck like Gomer Pyle on his first trip to Beverly Hills.

What I mean to say to her that in your twenties, you tend to travel incognito. Before when I traveled to Seattle, for example, I was young enough to cultivate a particular look that meant I could conceivably be taken for a local. If I were wearing a T shirt, for instance, it would be one from a local club — in the case of Seattle, the now defunct punk/grunge dive The Vogue would work nicely.

In your forties, however, the calculus changes. All that posing is just too much work. I’m not from Seattle; I know it only as a visitor. So why pretend? And, is the Pike Place Market such a bad place after all? And the view from the Space Needle is pretty darn awesome. Now I’m more concerned about my insoles than my T shirt.

But Violet never knew me as a 24-year-old wannabe hipster, only as a beleaguered middle-aged nebbish who talks too loud in public and laughs at his own jokes. So, when I take her to Seattle, it’s a source of embarrassment on her part. And because I’m her hopelessly pathetic parent, every suggestion I make is poison. There is no doubt she is enchanted with Seattle (who wouldn’t be, really?), but she’s not going to be charmed by any Seattle that I might be associated with.

That’s how it is, sweetheart. One day, you wake up and you suddenly don’t mind being viewed as a tourist. Not that I will ever have a taste for sleepwalking through the half-dozen must-dos on the tourist brochures. Not that I don’t still cringe just a bit at having to pose for photos at well-worn sightseeing points. But you can really enjoy yourself when you’re not obsessing how other tourists look at you.


One thought on “Traveler or tourist?

  1. Your daughters will someday look back and realize that their dad is a pretty cool dude (as much as you can be in your 40s and not be named Obama).

    It may not be until they are in their 40s themselves, but it will happen.

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