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Cavorting in a blue-green paradise - R.H. Joseph

Vacations are a wonderful thing!

Having just spent two weeks in a tiny fishing village on a tiny island in the Caribbean I'm in such a good mood I could kiss a conservative.

America, I am here to testify it is not only possible to exist without television or radio, it is preferable. These media that clutter our consciousness and suck up our life force are irrelevant superfluities that actually prevent us from discovering the pleasures our senses can provide.

Please do not tell me I can afford to speak thus because financial liquidity allows access to Edens denied the less fortunate. Balderdash!

Get off the couch and go outside. "Reality" television doesn't matter, reality does. More to the point, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, and all the other brightly colored, fast-paced mechanisms for selling lite beer are not reality.

Look around you. Behind the ubiquitous nail/tanning salons, dry cleaners, restaurant chains and video stores that have invaded the Southside like locusts on amber waves of grain awaits the lush greenery of reality. Sure the ocean smells great, but it's only different from honeysuckle, not better.

Weird as it may seem, whilst on vacation I actually woke up earlier than I do when I have to go to work. No, I didn't burden myself with an alarm clock, I simply went to bed earlier.

Turn off those televisions, America! You'll have more fun and spend less because you won't know what new product is absolutely essential to your lifestyle. You will be defined by what you do, not by what you purchase.

At one point during our seaside sojourn Baby and I found ourselves singing songs much as our forebears have done in huts and parlors since our species first became self-aware.

Not only are we capable of forms of self-amusement that won't draw the ire of the repressed, they provide an appreciable joyousness unavailable to those passive types that spend their lives bathing in the eerie glow of cathode ray tubes.

We also read a lot. The Little Ms. had been working her gluteus maximus off prior to our departure and after a day spent frolicking in Poseidon's play pen a little light reading would quickly send her dreamily into Never Never Land.

As for me, with no one to laugh at my jokes or hang on every word of my sparkling repartee it wasn't long before I hit the hay as well. I confess smoothies composed of various combinations of fresh papaya, banana, coconut milk and rum played a small part also.

(Why is it no one nominated the Waring Blender as the greatest invention of the second millenium? While I thrive on the fruits of Guttenberg's movable type, given the choice between an interesting book and a rum smoothie?)

If there is one decided advantage to an island getaway (aside, of course, from the ocean) it is spending two weeks without anyone saying, "I was like," "He was like," "We were like," "It was like," and all the other grating variations on this theme.

Admittedly it was difficult to understand the locals though theirs is yet another variation of the English language. But given the choice between being trapped in a cage full of learning-impaired parrots and responding to the music of songbirds, I'll take the latter.

I also delight in cavorting barefoot. Little by little this traditional form of Southern conveyance is going the way of the crankshaft mailbox holder, the inverted, scalloped used-tire flower planter, and refrigerators on the porch.

Time was when it was commonplace for kids to go into grocery stores barefooted. Check out the kids in one of those national supermarkets that have rendered our mom-and-pop's nonexistent. Not a toe in sight. Aren't parents supposed to instill proper values in their offspring?

Lord knows, when I was a kid you only put on shoes for school. You can't climb trees in shoes and kids are supposed to climb trees. There are no rules for climbing trees.

That's why organized sports are stupid. Kids aren't supposed to wear uniforms and follow rules when playing; they're supposed to make up the rules as they go along. Only the civilized swim in straight lines, not island kids.

Island kids don't wear shoes either; they know better. One time Baby and I were snorkeling next to a bunch of local kids when suddenly they went dashing up the nearly vertical jungle-thick hillside abutting the beach n barefooted and howling like dogs.

Understanding the general timidity of white people another local advised us, "Don't be afraid, they just saw an iguana." Then, appreciating the quizzical look in our eyes he continued, "Their meat is very sweet."

I wasn't afraid. I wanted to run up the hill too n barefooted.

R.H. Joseph is a longtime employee of the News Daily. His column appears on Wednesdays. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 252, or by e-mail at rjoseph@news-daily.com.