The Best of Andy Rooney

I love to look at the travel section of the Sunday newspaper because all the ads for faraway places remind me of how much I like to stay home. There are so many places in the world I don't want to go that I can hardly wait for the day when I retire so I can sit home and enjoy the money I've saved.

Just for fun, I made a list of places I don't want to go:

A Caribbean or a South Pacific island where beautiful women lie around on white beaches in bikinis all day. I don't mind the women in bikinis, but I don't like lying on beaches and it isn't considered polite to go just to look at the girls.

A bus tour of nine countries in Europe with a busload of 37 other tourists is something I desperately don't want to do. I would pay $5,000 round trip not to go on a tour like that. I don't go on tours of anything. If I want to see something, I want to look at it at my own pace. I don't want to be told how long to look at one thing and how short a time to look at another.

Please excuse me from a rafting trip down the Colorado River or camping in Yellowstone Park this summer. I spend most of my time in New York City, and if it's crowds like that I want, we have them right here at home, without the flies. I've seen those tours down the Colorado from the air and there are so many rubber rafts they could use a traffic buoy some days. Anyway, I've gotten used to the convenience of indoor plumbing. I got camping out of my system in our back yard before I was 14.

I do not wish to take an old sternwheeler down the Mississippi, retracing the course of Huck Finn. Even if it's called The Belle of Louisville, I don't want to go.

I do not wish to take "a luxury tour of Yugoslavia," including "two meals a day and all hotel rooms." I've been to Yugoslavia, thank you. It's a nice place but I'm just as happy that I have it checked off my list of places that would be interesting to visit.

Canada's St. Lawrence and Nova Scotia plus New England offer "1,700 miles of unspoiled coastline," according to an ad, but I know for a fact those ads have been running for years trying to attract tourists and I'll bet there isn't too much left that's unspoiled.

For most of my life, I've traveled more than most people, which may have something to do with the way I feel about travel sections in newspapers. Going somewhere just to move doesn't appeal to me. Too many people are looking for some Shangri-La that doesn't exist.

Many cities that used to be exciting to visit because they were so different from what we're used to in America no longer are different. There's a Shangri-La Hilton now and you can make reservations by calling an 800 number. Its coffee shop is a McDonald's franchise and everyone on the staff has to speak English so you don't have to wrestle with a foreign language. At dinnertime, you can go to its famous Mr. Steak restaurant and have steak, French fries, coleslaw and, for dessert, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. The gift shop in the lobby has every cute little souvenir you'd want to bring home to anyone, so if you take the 5,000-mile trip to Shangri-La you won't even have to leave your hotel room this year.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

But as Sam Goldwyn said, "Include me out."

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