The Tourist – a different species.

We’ve all done it at least once. But few of us actually stop to think about it, to analyze our behavior and our diminished capacities once we go into “tourist-mode”. Mother Nature left us that button in order for us to use it wisely. It increases our ability to learn new things and have loads of fun, while our other abilities go into hibernation. Our bodies have a certain amount of energy that cannot be stretched over too many tasks, since we’re not all good at everything like James Franco. We have to be great at a couple of things, while everything else just has to wait.

So going into tourist mode kills some of our senses (the ones that our parents have worked hard to develop throughout childhood and adolescence) in order for our brains to fully comprehend the journey that we take into the unknown territories. But I’ve managed to narrow it down to several aspects that truly describe the average tourist. I, for one, love tourists – they’re the most gullible human beings on planet Earth. And something tells me that alien tourists are also gullible like our own, otherwise I can’t explain Roswell.

“The truck stop guy was wrong. Admit it, Jim, we’re lost.”

First and foremost, I must address the fashion aspect of each and every tourist. Once we go into the tourist mode, our fashion sense is turned off. We no longer need the hip black pumps, the cool white shirt with the small floral imprints on the side or those jeans that make our asses look awesome. We no longer need to look good in order to avoid the daily judgment of  our peers, we just need pants, shorts and comfortable shoes. And we already know that comfortable rarely comes with “these look great!”.

“… at least our feet don’t hurt… right?”

Yes, the ugliest sandals and shoes often protect our feet throughout our touristic adventures. We need to walk the distance in that minimum of seven days of holiday, we need comfortable shoes that don’t make our feet file for a divorce in the first six hours of a sightseeing tour. And let’s be fair, cobblestone is the foot’s greatest enemy and cobblestone is specific to all historical city centers, especially in Europe. So we wear those crap shoes because we feel comfortable. We’ll even commit the atrocities of wearing those sandals with socks, because our toes need to be pampered too. And we don’t feel bad about it, we actually feel cool because we know that we look like tourists, so nobody’s going to crucify us for our dormant sense of fashion.

But crap shoes are not the only lacerations that we inflict on our looks. There are also the short pants, the old jeans and the worn out kakis that we didn’t have the heart to throw out last year. Why buy new pants and why wear the GOOD ones on our holidays when we can put on the ripped ones that we’ve had for longer than we’ve had our kids? It makes no difference, we just need to be comfortable as tourists. We have a lot of places to go and a lot of things to see, being fashion-conscious is the least of our worries. Besides, we’re TOURISTS, remember? We can get away with anything.

“ANYTHING.”

To conclude the tourist fashion tour and make way for another issue that must be explained, I’ll move up to the top side. The shirt. Oh yes, the God-awful cheap shirt that’s either about to implode from all the floral imprints or the tees we bought from our previous holidays and/or the local gift shops. We don’t need elegance, we don’t need style, we just need to feel comfortable, hide the ten pounds that we know we’ll put on after our trip to Italy (because we’re under the impression that the Italians only eat pizza and pasta, so all we eat there is pizza and pasta too) or simply complete the alarming array of bad taste that we are already showing with the shorts, sandals and (red/kaki) socks. I mean, come on, what says “I’m a f***ing tourist, don’t you dare point a finger!” than a shirt that says “I (heart) Paris” or “Big Ben” (and a picture of the famous landmark)?

“The shirt actually says <<I’ll break your fingers if you dare say anything about my sandals, you shitbrick!>>.”

 

Tourists have become the “uncle we never talk about” in human fashion. The way we dress up when we go on holiday has been turned into costume themes. We kill our otherwise decent style because we want to be as comfortable as possible when we take long walks through foreign cities, taking pictures of Renaissance cathedrals and swarming all over the souvenir shops. We can enjoy our time off without worrying about whether our shoes match our shirts and our bodies are thankful for finally being able to relax. We can let our muffin tops  out and our legs look stumpy because we know for sure that nobody’s going to judge us. We’ll simply get slapped with the “Tourist” stamp and we will actually be proud about it.

“We’re going as Tarzan and Jane for the company’s Halloween party. What are you guys dressing up as?”

“Oh, we’re gonna be Tourists!”

The human brain doesn’t just ignore the visual aspect when going into tourist mode. Oh no, the behavior also changes radically. We’re free to eat and drink whatever we want, too. It’s our duty as tourists to sample the local dishes and drinks. Above all, it’s our duty to get wasted with no regrets on the local liquors. It’s not a holiday if it doesn’t involve at least one night of total blackout.

The tourist can get shitfaced because nobody knows him/her anyway. Feel free to attack the flaming shots, the local moonshine and you must, by all means, combine the local wines until you lose any control of your body. So what if you end up dancing on tables, stripping for the locals’ delight or disappointment or whipping your dong out for the British girls that laugh at you? You’re a tourist, you can get away with anything, remember?

“When pumped up on absinthe, feel free to try the local pools.”

“I’m just resting my back a little, all that drinking gave me a jelly-spine.”

Being a tourist also renders you predisposed to scams and local one-night-stands. Like I’ve said before, when your brain goes into tourist-mode, you become one of the most gullible creatures on Earth, making six year olds laugh at you. Anyone posing as a travel guide can point you to a solidified turd and tell you that it’s a piece of rock that has been there since the 1400’s. You’ll believe everything you’re told and fill your SD card with photos of a very old turd. You’ll believe everything you’re told because you’re not in your country and you don’t know anything about the customs of the world you’ve ventured into. You feel like Columbus rediscovering America.

“This has been here since 1651, when a local pig farmer finally went no. 2 after a week of constipation. It was such a joyous moment that they turned it into a local celebration. Every fifth of April is Turd Day.”

Quick mention: I googled the words “old turd” and got pictures of Bush Jr. and Cheney. Just felt the need to mention that.

Going on holiday is the perfect reason to get as much sex going on as possible. The local girls are perfect – they don’t know you, they probably won’t see you again and you’re under the impression that they love tourists. It’s an adventure that you must indulge yourself with. It goes the same for girls, too. You should know that the local guys enjoy tourist girls very much. And it’s the perfect occasion to behave like “rebellious” skanks and shag everything that moves. Nobody will know, anyway! Not even the boyfriend, when their backpacking-through-Europe girlfriends come back home with hepatitis. They’ll blame it on the toilet seats. It’s a classic tale, in fact! Boy meets girl. Girl doesn’t speak English. Boy doesn’t speak Foreign. They do it anyway because the body language is the same all over. This involves a couple of strong drinks and a shady motel room. The next morning they part with smiles and hands waving, while the girl can tell her friends that she boned a tourist and the boy can spend the rest of the day trying to remember whether he used a condom or not.

“Honey, your results came in from the lab. They say you got an STD sometime in the past couple of weeks. You never told me, how was your trip to the Philippines last week, you dumb sack of shit?”

 

Playing the tourist is also a job, though nobody ever tells you that. You get paid by your company to take some time off and learn about other cultures. But you’d better come back with some proof. The guys at the office will never believe you if you don’t have that snapshot of you cleverly pushing back the Pisa tower from the background with just one finger! Make yourself look small in each photo, compared to the giant historical landmarks. Make them see you wore those obnoxious kakis and the sandals with socks. Show them the tacky souvenirs you spent a fortune on. Show everyone the photos of trees, the people back home deserve to know that they have trees outside your country, too. And make sure to photograph everything that you eat, too. It doesn’t matter if it made your lower intestine bleed or if it gave you gases powerful enough to blow up an entire city – those foods were specific to the place you visited, even if they looked like dog chow. They’re exotic and cool. And you, as a tourist, were cool and brave enough to sample them.

“Picture of local food. A bit salty but the desert was heavenly!”

As a tourist, it is imperative that you return home with souvenirs. The bigger, the tackier, the better. The mugs with the Monalisa, the Tower of Pisa keychain, the Big Ben and Eiffel Tower figurines, anything that can prove your presence there as a tourist will come in handy when the guys back at the farm ask you about your holiday. Show them the scar you got from that night at the bar when you got loaded on Sambuca and tried to prove that you were not Clark Kent, but Superman himself.

“I’m pretty sure the costume won’t do. There has to be a way for me to prove myself as Superman…”

Going on holiday is the greatest experience of any working human. That time off, away from the rules and daily routines. Those seven days of waking up at six in the morning because you WANT to, all the places that you get to see, the souvenirs you get to buy for ridiculously high prices, the locals who befriend you, trick you or mug you because you’re such a gullible little “foreigner”. The nights out, the heavy drinking, the rich dishes and local ice-cream. The beautiful sights, the beautiful women who let you talk to them even though you’re dressed in shorts, sandals and socks. Yes, I have an issue with that. Sue me. The experience is exhilarating and unforgettable, and nothing says “tourist” and “tacky” in a single image better than the locally themed tattoo that you came back with.

“I went to Paris last summer. See?!”

P.S. The last image is only a visual example, it’s actually the prettiest Eiffel tattoo that I could find. So Kudos for that.

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So I got to “thinking”.

 

And I figured something out.

It doesn’t really matter what happens around me, I’ll always be alone. It’ll always be me plus one, in a best case scenario.

It’s my head that I put on a pillow at night. It’s my stomach that I feed twice a day. Sometimes three times, if there’s an appetite. It’s my hair that I comb every morning and it’s my eye lashes that I cover with mascara before I walk out into the sunshine. It’s my body that I dress up with Sisley shirts and jeans and it’s my skin that I treat with soft body lotions and baby oil. It’s my spirit that I feed with coffee at nine a.m. and it’s my soul that I feed with deep love songs and wild guitar riffs. It’s my mind that I feed with books and movies and it’s my essence that I let out through my paintings and my written words.

There’s not enough ink in this world to describe every single sensation that travels through my veins at light speed with every breath that I take.

There’s no image beautiful enough to describe the things that go on in my head when I imagine love or a brand new adventure on my itinerary through life.

I know for sure that I am alone and that I will always be this way. I don’t trust the “soul mate” theory, it seems sketchy and I don’t think that nature and society can ever come up with such a creature, just for me. I’d have to be ridiculously selfish to raise such pretentions. There isn’t a person out there who can love as much as I can, who can relish in all the things that make me happy – not that there are that many, but the intensity is just beyond any decent description. There’s nobody out there who will think of surprising me with one single red rose, just because it’s Wednesday. Nobody will think of leaving me a note on my pillow in the morning, telling me that breakfast is ready and asking me about how many sugar cubes I want with my coffee. Nobody will take pictures of me while I watch my favorite movie or while I’m lying in my bed, headphones in my ears, listening to one of those songs that make my blood pump so fast that I need a moment to catch my breath. Nobody will think of asking me about how I imagine the perfect day for me. Nobody will ever take me for exactly who I am. Nobody will.

That doesn’t mean that I’ll be miserable. Oh no, not at all. But I’ll never be complete. Not yet, anyway. Perhaps I’ve still got a lot of things to learn and to do before I can redesign my search criteria for that so-called soul mate. But I’ll always be free. I’ll never be tied down to anything. I’m not built this way. I can’t wear a leash, I can’t pledge my life to someone else.

I change my mind so often. I go in opposite directions. I take each day in completely different ways. Things are not black and white for me, they’re not even in shades of grey. They’re colors, billions of colors. And if I try hard enough, I can be any of them. I can be pink today, yellow tomorrow and a very wild green on Sunday. Then Monday I’ll go as blue as the sky in a quiet morning of June. I’ll be beige on Christmas Eve and I’ll be golden and bright when I’ll shake his hand and say “Nice to meet you!”.

You know, we’re all the same, come to think of it. We’re all colors, we’re just not all ready to accept it. Not all of us take the time to check if we’re orange or blue today. I’ve had too much time on my hands, I’ll admit.

So as I got to thinking, I’ve come up with something.

I’ll continue to spread my wings and fly to wherever the wind sends me. I’ll touch him and I’ll relish in that one minute that I get to look at him freely, without being looked at. I’ll hide in my corner and write about my colors, about how I want my life to be. And when I’ll come out, I’ll face everything with my signature smile and I’ll go to bed remembering only the colors.

Soon enough I’ll have my own color code for every emotion that decides to bloom inside of me. I’ll let the colors ooze out of me and I hope to infect as many as possible with my million-color-rainbow. I want it all, good and bad. I want the smiles and I want the tears. I want the moon and the stars. I want the flames and the cold running water. I want the frowns and the bad attitudes. I want the chills and the laziness of a Saturday morning in bed.

I’ll take it all. I’ll live it all. And when I’ll paint my canvas, I’ll choose only my favorite shades. For what I will leave behind will be the most beautiful painting of them all – my puny yet extraordinary life.

Lift your head up and start living your dream. We don’t get second chances and time is certainly not going to wait for us until we make up our minds. Grab her hand and tell her you want her. Pull him by the sleeve and ask him out for a  cup of coffee. Take that step and dare to do something that your mind considers scandalous. If you fail, you will at least have to satisfaction of having tried.

But if you win, your victory will be most beautiful color on your life’s canvas.

I know it sounds artsy and romantic and motivational, but it’s only ONE way of looking at things. You can choose the path that most choose, and settle for white, black and maybe some grays. Or you can dare a little bit more and add some color into your life.

It’s your choice, as it is mine.

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