2008-05-28 / Opinion

Stay...Just A Little Bit Longer

by Alex McRae

In October, 1960, a tune called "Stay" by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs tiptoed onto the Billboard charts and didn't quit rising until it hit Number 1.

At 1 minute, 37 seconds, "Stay" is the shortest single ever to hit number one. It's also one of the best tunes to scale the musical mountaintop.

This might be the perfect time to re-release that Golden Oldie. As gas prices soar towards four bucks a gallon and motel rates rocket, more and more Americans may be tempted to follow the song's advice when it comes to vacations...and just "Stay." At Home.

If you do, don't worry. You won't be the first to skip the annual trek to Wherever, USA. In the past year, several articles have appeared in travel, tourism and money magazines describing the joys of what burned-out road warriors call a "Staycation."

The concept is certainly appealing. Right now the cost of fuel alone has people canceling "dream vacations" in favor of one-tank trips to less exotic, but more affordable venues.

And if you do manage to scrimp and save enough for a trip to the beach, chances are you won't like your neighbors, anyway. With these prices, the only people at the beach are evil, Republican capitalist pigs and the Clintons and Gores.

Staycations not only shorten your exposure to rich people, they have the added benefit of letting you spend more quality time with your family. And how many of us don't long for that?

Sure, it seems like we're together a lot, but let's be honest. Driving your child four hours each day to after school activities doesn't really make for better bonding. Especially if your third grader is studying for the SATs the whole time.

A staycation will make sure you get all the family face time you could ever hope for.

Of course, a staycation won't work if you're one of those families who use vacations as an excuse to be apart. You know the routine. After a spirit-dulling car ride, dad hits the golf course while mom keeps the urchins. Then dad returns the favor while mom gets a spa treatment. Give the kids a few rounds of miniature golf and some unsupervised surf time in shark-infested waters and after a few days everybody's ready to come back home.

Just about any parent who's spent a week on the road with small kids will tell you it was a relief to get home and back to work, so they could rest.

But if you plan your staycation properly, those nasty distractions disappear faster than a politician's promises. Imagine a whole week at home, all crammed together in the house.

Begin by shedding a few commitments. With a dozen or so calls, any parent should be able to cancel a week's worth of baseball, football, soccer, dancing, guitar, badminton, bassoon, boxing or karate lessons.

Start the fun by unplugging that annoying TV set. Then stick the family cell phone collection in a shoebox. After that, take away the kids' Game Boys, X-Boxes, Walkmen and Wiis. Then, burn your teenagers' brand new copy of Grand Theft Auto.

Now just sit back and let the fun begin.

Get ready to go face-toface, eyeball, to eyeball, breath-to-breath, whine-towhine and joy-to-joy with that family you love so much.

If you're not ready to commit today, just think about it. Imagine the joy a staycation could bring to you and your loved ones.

After you have, then empty the kids' college savings accounts and piggy banks and hit the road. Better hotels actually have so many supervised activities for kids and spouses you could be gone a week and never see a single family member. For some people, it doesn't get any better than that.

(Send your e-mail comments to: alex@newnan. com)

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