Warning! The following column contains what some readers may consider to be objectionable (and absolutely accurate) gender stereotypes! Offended parties should try traveling on a long distance road trip with six female persons — five of whom are deep in the throes of hormone-inflicted teenagehood — and then grow a big, swollen, hairy sense of humor. (Actually, they might want to grow the humor tumor before travelling.)
My wife and I recently accepted this challenge on a trip to the beach with our three teenage daughters and two of their friends. We all needed a change of scenery from the COVID-19 crisis in our hometown so that we could experience it in someone else’s hometown. As the sole representative of the dude denomination in an SUV laboring under the strain of enough luggage and snacks to supply the next SpaceX mission, I couldn’t help but take a few notes-to-self for future forgetting.
First, when traveling with a group of mature, even-tempered young ladies, you should avoid trying to determine why they are constantly giggling. Giggling is apparently a complex linguistic tool used by groups of teen females to express an array of emotional responses to external stimuli, most of which emanate from a cell phone screen. If you dare to inquire about the exact source of their giggling, your query will be met by a few seconds of stunned silence, followed by an explosive burst of even more frenzied giggling. A suggestion by you that the giggling might be in any way related to the hairy-legged variety of teenage male will result in acute spasms of convulsive giggling that could require medical attention (for you and the gigglers). In other words, just try to ignore it — and good luck with that!
Another strategy to ensure a more harmonious environment among the travelers is to refrain from insisting that everyone listen to decent
music on the vehicle’s sound system. For example, a high-quality 1980’s music playlist will evoke subtle groaning from most of the teenage passengers, followed by the insertion of expensive wireless earbuds that will allow them to ignore your pleas that everyone join in on a rousing chorus of “Rock Me Amadeus.” Instead, it’s just best to open your musical horizons to the vapid refrains of current teen heartthrobs like Harry Styles, The Weekend, Shawn Mendes and something called Marshmello. Allowing the teens to control the music will make them more content and responsive, but you may have to resist flinging yourself out of the moving vehicle.
Along with enduring their insufferable music and chronic tittering, travelers with teen girls must prepare themselves for the incessant distraction of self-photography. In addition to abusing their iPhone SIM cards and risking lip sprains from making duck faces, fish gapes and model pouts, teen travelers also take reams of mini “Polaroids” and occasionally break out 35mm digital cameras that cost me more than their orthodontic work. They usually reserve group photo sessions to memorialize special occasions — like gas station restroom stops.
And speaking of restroom stops, there are few things more humiliating than being the only male in the car and requiring the men’s room while all six ladies could happily go another 100 miles before they have to “go.” Despite trying to limit my intake of Diet Dr Pepper to a gallon or so per trip, I always seem to be the one sprinting into a filthy convenience store for a bathroom break and then fighting the urge to purchase their entire display of jumbo pecan logs.
Once we reached our destination, we had a great time vacationing together, and I’m glad the girls could enjoy an escape from the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic for a few days of rest and relaxation — even if they did have to cover their duck faces with a mask. I’m also proud to say that I didn’t buy a single pecan log for the entire trip and made it home with my humor tumor a little bruised, but safely intact.