Here's the Scoop: Sept. 30, 2009

The road less traveled. Much less
I went to a dinner party the other night with a mix of people. I knew some of the guests a bit and others I just met that evening.

Such situations can be good. Or bad. Fortunately, this one turned out well. Everyone got along fine and enjoyed each other’s company.

Because the party fell on the evening that the Cauliflower Festival had taken place in Margaretville, we chatted about that event. I was proud to announce that I had spent a number of summers slaughtering innocent cauliflower with a big, bad machete. Being polite sorts, the guests listened to my tales — you might say they were all cauliflower ears.

They’ve been around
As the evening went on and I had chewed on the cauliflower topic long enough, the other guests began to reveal some of the details of their lives. In my humble opinion, their lives were a bit more interesting than mine. Many bits, actually.

These folks had been around. The world. Me, I often spend an entire weekend without seeing a person to whom I’m not married. I’m not complaining about that, but I really haven’t traveled to a whole lot of foreign locations. These people had been to places that, even though I probably couldn’t find them on a map, sounded really cool.

And they weren’t bragging, just explaining their lives. Still, I began to feel like a bit of a Catskill Mountain hermit. “Well, we were kind of busy this summer and didn’t really have time to travel to any exotic locations,” I explained. “But I did make quite a few — I’d say many — trips to the Freshtown supermarket. During the store’s renovation.” I added this last part to imply some drama in my travels.

It was pretty obvious that, while no one was impolite about it, maybe I was trying too hard. Freshtown, it seems, it not quite as exotic as, say, Cape Town. On the other hand, there’s no jet lag involved — and you’re allowed to carry around liquids in big containers! But the fact remained, these folks had enjoyed tons of interesting experiences. In an effort to justify my limited traveling adventures, I had to keep telling myself, “Wow, these guys must be really old to have been to that many places. I’ve got plenty of time to catch up.”

When we got into the car to leave, my wife commented, “Boy, those people are serious globetrotters.” I agreed that some of the chat was quite impressive. “Still, I think they may have been stretching the truth with some of those travel recollections,” I responded.

“How about when that one guy said he’s been to ‘the Andes’ several times, but looked at me with a blank expression when I said that I go to Andes a lot and asked whether he’d skied at Bobcat much? I’m pretty sure he was making up those trips —Andes isn’t that big of a place and he certainly would have heard of Bobcat. And, the fact that he referred to the place as ‘the’ Andes — like it was ‘the’ Bronx — really makes me doubt his story.”

When I finished ranting, my wife suggested that maybe I should get out more. I’m not sure what she meant.
— Brian Sweeney