It was a true getaway at an oceanside hotel in Miami Beach.
I just returned from what was our first real vacation in several years, and I’m eternally grateful for the much-needed heavenly respite it provided. It was a true getaway at an oceanside hotel in Miami Beach.
Usually, I live vicariously through the vacation photos people post on Facebook, which serves as a constant reminder of where I haven’t been and what I haven’t been doing.
I don’t post personal stuff on Facebook, and I most certainly was not going to start now and subject you to a photo of me in a bathing suit.
Our travels also included the first time since the onset of the pandemic that we went maskless 24/7, but not in transit. At the airport and during the flight, we were fully committed to our masks unlike 99% of the other passengers, including the kid sitting directly behind us who was coughing up a lung for the entire flight.
The “cougher” led to some cabin chaos when a woman stood up from her seat and tore into the mother of the child yelling for all to hear: “Would you put a (bleep) mask on that kid.” A real conversation starter.
The father of the child yelled back at the woman not to talk to his wife that way and took out his phone to video the episode which meant I was about to be an “extra” in yet another soon-to-be in-flight passenger confrontation seen on the internet.
Fortunately, it didn’t escalate any further but, and I kid you not, immediately after the verbal volley I honestly wanted to break out in a rendition of “God Bless America.” I regret I didn’t.
One of the highlights of the trip involved the early morning recognizance mission of securing lounge chairs at the pool. The pool was visible from our eighth-floor hotel room, and I communicated by phone with my wife as I maneuvered to find the best location. The key is to bring enough objects with you to signal that the chairs are ocupado; in my case a newspaper, a water bottle and my fanny pack.
Yes, I still wear a fanny pack. Nothing screams South Beach hip more than a plump, pasty white Midwesterner wearing a black, vinyl fanny pack to go along with my bright blue jogging shoes, Beatles T-shirt and Michigan State cap. I stood out like one of those attention-getting 20-ft. tall inflatable men you see outside car dealerships.
A true vacation lets you step outside your everyday reality and provides a fresh perspective. The one thing that stood out most — I am more seriously attached to my iPhone than I thought, and I wasn’t alone.
Practically every pool lounge chair occupant was on their phone, every parent, every kid — I swear I think I even saw a few seagulls scrolling through Instagram. Every poolside restaurant patron was on their phone. I admit, we asked for a table closest to an outlet so we could recharge our batteries. It really was disturbing to see that even on a vacation getaway, we can’t get away from our phones.
I did get reintroduced to a lost art — the holding and reading of a real, black ink rubbing-off-on-your-fingers newspaper. The hotel provided complimentary New York Times and Wall Street Journals, and I loved it. Though I still haven’t learned the art of turning newspaper pages in 15-MPH winds.
One thing this vacation also confirmed is that I am truly in need of help from Dr. Rick, star of the Progressive Insurance commercials. Dr Rick’s mission is to save people like myself who suffer from what he calls “parentamorphosis,” the act of turning into your parents. I’ve written about this before.
As a sufferer of parentamorphosis, I have the irresistible urge to make comments to everyone to the absolute horror and humiliation of my family.
One of the current Progressive commercials shows Dr. Rick helping a man overcome his habit of commenting to people on elevators. As an occupant of an eighth-floor hotel room, I had numerous eight-floor rides up and down worth of comments over the course of seven days.
Example: After a huge meal one night, I commented to my fellow elevator passengers that “I wasn’t sure the elevator was going to go up based on the amount of food I just consumed.” Comments like that virtually guarantee my family will only reserve first-floor rooms in the future.
Another example was when I passed a father and son throwing a football on the beach to which I said: “Hey, the next Tom Brady there, huh?” My son didn’t see the whole episode because he had already started burying his head in the sand.
Finally, there was this elderly couple who passed me on the way to the pool. The husband was wearing a T-shirt that said: “I’m not an idiot.” I stopped them and said: “Well, I am an idiot.”
We preceded to have a wonderful conversation where I learned they were originally from Russia and, to my amazement, they actually lived near me in Southfield back in 1979. What a small world and what a great vacation.
Yes, it’s amazing what you can experience when you’re not looking at your phone.
Alan Muskovitz is a writer, voice-over/acting talent, speaker, and emcee. Visit his website at laughwithbigal.com,”Like” Al on Facebook and reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.