Jun 02 2008

A retroactive disclaimer

Published by at 7:30 pm under Travel

Since being home and catching up with friends, family, and co-workers, we’ve made an unexpected discovery: everyone thinks that we spent our entire journey drunk.

The first couple of times I heard someone make a reference to our trip as a “drunken whirlwind,” I dismissed it as a joke. But then it became clear that everyone seemed to have a comment about the stark lack of sobriety during our eight months. After the nineteenth person chimed in, it was officially a trend. Confused, we tried to figure out where people would have gotten such an idea.

Looking back over our history of blog posts, I think I see what’s going on. Alcohol, in its many forms, does get more shout-outs on this blog than I had realized. And upon arriving in a new country or region, we absolutely made a point of sampling the local spirit of choice. Which tends to make for good stories, and in turn ends up on our blog.

When my mother told me that friends and extended family members were worried that I was being a bad influence on their children, I have to admit that I found the idea thrilling. Me? A bad influence? To give you some context, just know that my entire life has been a hopeless struggle against my unshakable social image: a nerdier version of Cory Matthews. And now, all of a sudden, you’re telling me that I finally get to be Shawn Hunter? I mean… I don’t even know what to say! Do the black leather jacket and devil-may-care attitude come standard?*

If I’d only known the new image I was cultivating back home, I probably would have blown all of my savings on liquor and hair gel. And started some bar fights to get some edgier material for our Flickr page. But the truth of the matter (whether good, bad, or disappointingly healthy) is that drunkenness was a luxury largely outside of our financial means. We didn’t sleep in crowded 12-bunk hostel bedrooms because we like playing Russian Roulette with the nightly possibility of contracting bedbugs. We did it because we were broke. Broke by American standards, which is to say that European beggars looked up from their tin cups to pity us with alms. And ever since alms were made obsolete by the euro in 2002, we might as well have been trying to buy wine with wooden nickels.

Which was cool with us. We’re not heavy drinkers anyway, and there was too much to see and do in eight months to spend our time passed out on bar floors. The reason I wanted to write this disclaimer is for the benefit of others who will come after us. If we have given the impression that the best frame of mind for exploring the world is a drunken one, then I think we have done a disservice. As someone who enjoys beer and wine, I would encourage like-minded travelers to sample what the world has to offer, just like I would encourage you to sample local foods and customs. But beyond that, plan on saving your alms for hostels, ferry rides, and bizarre puppet shows. You’ll be able to stay abroad longer, and as a bonus, you’ll actually remember your trip when you get back home!

But if, by some chance, you find yourself finally moving from Screech Powers to Zach Morris in the eyes of those back home… and you manage to succeed where I failed by making this realization BEFORE your trip is actually over… well, you know what to do my friend. And when you have to come home six months early because you blew all your money on speed, I’ll be the first in line at the airport to congratulate you.

*This paragraph caused an argument between Brittany and me over whether or not people will know who Cory Matthews and Shawn Hunter are. As part of the peace treaty, I am now required to say that these characters come from the hit television program “Boy Meets World,” which ran from 1993-2000 on ABC. And now I will also say that if you didn’t know who these characters were before reading this paragraph, you should avoid sitting next to me at weddings, graduation ceremonies, funerals, and any other event in which you are likely to be forced into awkward conversation with me. Because you won’t understand anything I’m talking about. Thank you.

NEXT: Tales We Never Told: So what DO Europeans think of Americans? »



10 responses so far

10 Responses to “A retroactive disclaimer”

  1. Kellyon 02 Jun 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I love Boy Meets World.

  2. Leeon 03 Jun 2008 at 3:40 am

    I didn’t know the names until you mentioned Boy Meets World. I loved that show and it showed over here in the UK for a long time. Who calls their child Topanga though :P

    Anyway, to back Ben up here as one of the people who met him on his travels. We never saw him without a brown paper bag containing a bottle of whisky. And he’s a mean drunk… Just kidding – didn’t see you drunk once and even when there was a time when a load of us in the hostel went out drinking, you were sensible and only had something like one glass. There was the beer pong night but I missed that. Stupid flight home…

    There’s really no point in getting drunk when you’re travelling like that. Most the time you have a short period of time to travel and see the best a country has to offer. You can’t waste that time in bed nursing a hangover.

  3. Gina Jerniganon 03 Jun 2008 at 9:14 am

    Hmm, odd. I never thought of you guys as being on a ‘Drunken Whirlwind Travel Expo’, and I don’t know you half as well as your family and close friends! I would have sampled the local popular drink in each country/city much like you did. Nothing like authenticity, I always say.

    So this is one person (who worked next to Ben at CC) that knows he’s not a random drunk…nope, he’s a happy one! Ha, ha…just kidding!

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog…every day, since you left.

  4. Olgaon 03 Jun 2008 at 9:21 am

    Unfortunately, I only got to catch the very tail end of your trip as you were travelling (I believe I discovered your website somewhere around Thailand, the first go around?) but I’ve enjoyed reading your stories immensely. Both you and Brittany are excellent travel writers and I heartily encourage you to keep travelling and writing about it.

    As a bonus, we come from the same generation making you all sorts of awesome in my book. I had to stifle the LOL when you compared yourself to a nerdier version of Corey Matthews. Take heart, my friend – even though Shawn had the cool factor, Corey got the girl; there’s a silver lining to everything!

  5. Nomadic Matton 03 Jun 2008 at 10:25 am

    how can you not know who corry matthews and shawn hunter are!!

    I had a serious crush on topanga…

  6. Hollyon 03 Jun 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I am the only one brave enough to admit that I did not know who Corry and Shawn were…..sadly boy meets world was ‘after my time’. I’m old and I am coming to terms with that.

    ps- And I am going to sit by you at every family event from here on out! (even if you are drunk! :)

  7. John Matthewon 03 Jun 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Thinking back I can likely pinpoint the point at which people might have started to get that idea. I don’t remember the exact blog post, and I’m far too lazy to look it up, but the gist of it was something like this:

    - in Greece

    - rode a motorcycle up a mountain to see something old-worldy

    - the place was closing down but the proprieter invited you inside to partake of his home distilled “rain water”

    - took 4 shots in a row of increasing power: the first had the power of triple-sec, but the last was closer to laboratory-grade ethanol

    - clambered back upon the motorcyle to ride down the mountain

    So early in the journey, I’m sure your moms/dads/relatives that weren’t entirely sure you would even survive were a little concerned. That cast every subsequent mention of alcohol under suspicion. The casual-ness with which you mention booze probably contributed as well – generational thing.

  8. Mr. Feenyon 03 Jun 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Oh Britney and Ben, what am I going to do with you?

  9. Ben's momon 04 Jun 2008 at 11:42 am

    Even I know who Cory and Shawn are! I also know who Screech and Zack are. Isn’t Zack the one who had a motorcycle accident?

  10. Darcieon 09 Jul 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Sadly, Holly, although Boy Meets World was “before my time” I immediately knew the reference…..does that make me even nerdier than Ben?????

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