I Went on Maybe the Best Vacation that Anyone's Ever Had.
Or: The Perfect Mangrove video that wasn't.
It’s good to be back. It’s t-minus two months and twelve days until my daughter is due, and t-minus three months and three days until Must Love Trees: An Unconventional Guide is published. Pre-order it, yada yada yada. Lots of fun promotional stuff coming up. This week will also see the hiring of the fabled JewsLoveTrees intern. Also I’m feeling good about my Judaism this year so I’m excited for Tu Bishevat (the Jewish tree holiday) next month. Also, a man is going to fix my fireplace to prevent all that carbon monoxide from flowing into my living room. All is in place for an excellent Los Angeles winter. Without further ado:
I Had Such a Fun “Baby-Moon” that I Neglected to Make a Content. Here’s How it All Went Down.
I just got back from vacation. It was a successful vacation. My wife and I planned a babymoon, and we executed it thoughtfully and fulsomely.
It was as vacation-y as you can possibly imagine. We flew on a plane to Meh-hico, minus the “meh”; for this was no ordinary vacation where complications arise, or where you have minor fights, or where the food isn’t good one night. The food was always good, the fights were never had, and the complications were nowhere to be found. This vacation was, in fact, extraordinary. This is me looking at a charming raccoon:
My wife and I both agreed that, following this vacation, we were ready to have the baby. Not immediately, but eventually, in three months or so. So we are now basically ready.
I’m being purposely vague about where we went in Me-hico, because I’d rather not have any of you follow me there next year when we go again, which we are both excited to do. I also recently watched a foreign horror film called “Speak No Evil,” and I’m still experiencing some trauma from its “vacation friends who murder you” premise.
Anyway, enough about how great the trip was. Let’s get to the meat of the intrapersonal conflict that I experienced there, because you know I had some.
Boyish gringo Tobin Mitnick steps out from his hired vehicle, ready for a three-day vacation that would, ultimately, rule. He forgets to tip the driver, thinking the tip would be included, leading him to overtip everyone else on his excellent vacation, which would do nothing for the driver he stiffed.
Tobin (feeling his empty pockets, looking the driver in the eye, and quickly opening and closing his mouth as if about to utter an apology): Mm..buh…uh…
The driver smiles politely and walks away, a pro at dealing with these kinds of people.
Tobin grabs the bags. He and his wife decided to pack light, an excellent decision which they would both agree on the ride back to the airport on Friday was the right one, and raises his idiot eyes to the wooden walkway that leads leads two hundred feet to the hotel. And that’s when he sees them:
Tobin (areas of his pre-frontal cortex lighting up like a Christmas Tree): Emm…buh-BO!
…Mangrove Trees. They fill the sundry acres to the immediate right and left of the walkway, a protected forest on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Shit. Now you where I was. Please don’t murder me next year.
Tobin: Mun…mun-go-go! Reb mun-go-go!
He points to the Red Mangrove Trees, their trademark stilted roots rising six feet into the air from the brackish water. He drops the bags, leaving them for his 30-week pregnant wife to retrieve, and runs in ecstasy down the walk way toward the setting sun.
Tobin: (pointing like a toddler) Blik mun-go-go!
The Black Mangrove trees stand like the gates of Mordor, speared heads of knobby roots arising around their bases in the water to grab some air, surrounding them like mindless sentinels. The moron spots the White Mangrove.
Tobin: (ripping off his shirt) Hugga! Whipple mun-go-go!
He spots the Buttonwoods.
He falls onto the water, helplessly impaled on a variety of root formations of one of the world’s MVTs (Most Valuable Trees), the ones that grow where the tide meets the land, preservers of climate marine, terrestrial, and atmospheric alike, whose wood is the toughest and whose loss is immeasurable. He dies.
Except I didn’t, and the vacation was spectacular.
So that was the first time I saw the Mangroves. And, almost instantaneously, I thought up an easy and unassailable video to do. I like to do videos on trees right when I’m learning about them. That way I’m excited to communicate what I’m learning. It’s also a good way to apply it and commit to memory in a constructive way.
The video would be this:
We push in on a shirtless, gleaming TOBIN MITNICK (35), glaring at the camera lustily amidst the green coastal forest of the Mangroves…
Tobin: (slowly, seductively, his moustache seemingly growing before our eyes. Yes, I have a moustache now) Welcome to the MAN-grove…
Instantaneous hard cut to the Red Mangroves roots.
Tobin (Voice Over): …Forest! Mangrove Forest! I got Red, I got Black, I got White, hell I even got Buttonwood! What’ll ya have? Red? Hey, that’s my specialty. But hold on there, fella, how will you know which one is the Red—
Hard cut to gleaming, flexing Tobin, again.
Tobin: (moustache engorged) MAN-grove…
Hard cut again to the tree.
Tobin (VO): …Tree? How will you know which one is the Mangrove Tree? Simple, brother! The Red Mangrove has stilted roots like such:
Angle on Red Mangrove Roots.
Tobin (VO): The Black Mangrove has these terrifying water spear “knee-roots” for collecting oxygen, and the White—
Hard cut. Tobin glistens:
Tobin: (moustache bursting) MAN-grove…
Tobin (VO): has these leaves that…
And so on and so forth. Easy to shoot, easy to cut. You learn about mangroves, and, in return, I hit all seven demographics of the JewsLoveTrees Tree-Hive™. Perfect vacation tree video.
I formulated it in my head during next morning’s treadmill run (running on the beach: a scam) and planned to shoot the approximate 3 minutes worth of footage that afternoon where no one could see me being weird in a hidden corner section of the walkway with great lighting for all the bodily glistening and moustache turgidity.
But then I started to have a very, very good time on vacation. And I didn’t feel like doing anything. So I didn’t. Aside from carefully peeing in the ocean while pretending to be aggressively wiping off my face and wetting my hair so that people on the shore would be like “no way he can do those two things at once.”
But I can. And I did.
Many times. So, I didn’t get the footage that first day. What I did get, however, was a run-down of the spirits of Meh-hico, including one that made my salivary glands nearly explode due to an infusion of Raíces de Oro. It was wonderful. I was having a great time. My wife was having a great time, too. She told me so on many occasions.
I occasionally thought to myself: “Hmm, the sun is at such an angle—and I am sufficiently glistening with perspiration—that I could achieve ultimate MAN-grovery were the camera turned upon myself at this very moment.”
But then I would think about Trigorin’s monologue in Act II of The Seagull, wherein he recounts the penetration of artistic obsession into every corner of his life, insomuch that every commonplace charm of being, such as the carefree smell of heliotrope in the garden, becomes a laborious opportunity to be used for his own advantage in his mind’s reserve of writerly imagery. Imagine me sympathizing with Trigorin, one of the more feckless villains of 19th century Russian literature!
But how could I not? It is a fascimilous existence at best, this “influencing”.
Needless to say, I did not want to give in to the “stupid life” that Trigorin builds for himself, allowing obsession to dominate even the tiniest of pleasures. And I was not having tiny pleasures, but stadium-sized ones filled with a marvelous mix of habanero oil and Mexican vodka. This trend of fun-having and calculated ocean-warming continued into the next day, when my well-rested and aromatic gin-lubricated brain became more even more skilled at both.
“Those fools,” I would slur as I stared at the people paddle-boarding as I sipped my melting Charanga Sunset, “imagine going on vacation and deciding to stand up.”
I doubt I will ever live that hard again. Just Look at me:
“Ok,” I thought the next morning as I went for my third and final treadmill run, “I shoot the three minutes of footage today. And I’ll wear this cotton shirt during my run so the sweat runs heavy and punishing, making the skin shine like satin. I shall suffer for art, lest it be meaningless ‘content’. Here, roughly thirty miles south of Cancun and forty north of Tulum.”
Oh my god, what have I done? It’s like I have a death wish that you’ll find me, befriend me, flatter my insecurities, invite me to spend a weekend with your sham family, and finally subject me to endless torments worse than death upon my arrival at this resort next year.
However, as fate would have it, I had picked out for my listening enjoyment the latest episode of our Lord-and-Savior Ezra Klein on his “show.”
It was about the Jewish Sabbath, a practice I had long secretly envied for those who do it. As I let the mellifluous words of his holiness Klein and his guest, the venerable Sabbath scholar Judith Shulevitz, fill my increasingly watery earbuds, I found their struggles with not only keeping the Sabbath but making it “holy”, or meaningful, to be a decent argument for…not the video at all.
I wasn’t sure that I’d ever be able to keep the Sabbath, let alone make it holy, but I had tripped into a vacation that, marvelously, seemed to be just that. My desire to work had been extinguished for a few precious days in paradise. I never thought that could happen. I always treated vacations gingerly, knowing that the urge to do would slowly creep in.
I stepped off the treadmill positively gushing with man sweat, stepped out of the minimalist yet totally wicked fitness center, and gazed at the Mangroves to the right and left of me on the wooden path. I was primed for video capture, my glistening and hairy-but-excessively-hairy manbody leaking drop after drop of healthy fluid under the burning Caribbean sun. It was now or never.
“Sorry, MAN-grove,” I whispered as I ordered yet another Grilled-Pineapple infused Mezcal Sour, “but right now it’s just me and the mangroves.”
An Out-of-Context Sentence from Must Love Trees: An Unconventional Guide
“Hold on to your butts:”
Best recap ever. heard your voice in every word.