Boring family vacation, part 3: What have we learned?

By Klax Zlubzecon

Translated by George Hyde

George is finally back in Anchorage and has returned to sanity’s warm embrace. This is what happens when you drop a nerd in rural, religious conservative America: It drives him to the brink of insanity. It got a little better after the sports bar incident, mostly because we spent the majority of his time either sleeping or desperately trying not to stick out like a sore thumb to the townsfolk — which proved difficult, because unlike in Anchorage, hats are uncommon in Montoursville, and without hats, I become rather hard for George to hide.

But I digress. We’re back, and everything is familiar again. And that means I can finally put my mind on something other than George’s boring family life. Hooray!

So today I’d like to discuss the concept of hype, because it’s something George and I have had an odd relationship with over the past year or two.

Let’s take the vacation in Montoursville as an example. George was raring to go because it had been almost six years since he last saw his mother’s side of the family. When we arrived, his family welcomed us with open arms, but everyone else looked upon us with contempt. Within days, George had become mentally unhinged, trying to binge-watch “Avatar: The Last Airbender” on Amazon Prime in a desperate attempt to regain what little sanity he had left. Just as he was hyped to get to Montoursville, he was just as ready to board the plane home within just a couple days.

Meanwhile, I, not really wanting a sleepy vacation, grudgingly went along. But I was pleasantly surprised! I mean, the town was full of pricks, but I love George’s folks to bits! And while George was lying in bed in fetal position trying to breathe deeply, I felt like a kid sneaking into a horror movie. I was scared too, but I wanted to be scared. I wanted thrills, and that’s what I got.

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The only difference between me and George was our mindsets. George was excited and I wasn’t. And when it was all over, George was left in shambles, and I was left wanting to stay and creep out the locals.

There’s a great T-shirt out there that demonstrates this effect perfectly. If you’re not hyped for something, and it turns out to be really cool, then that’s an awesome surprise. If you’re not hyped for something, and it turns out to be really terrible, then hey, you get a nice sense of smug superiority. If you are hyped for something, and it turns out to be really cool, then all is well. But if you’re hyped for something, and it turns out to be really terrible, then it’s the worst feeling in the world.

I think the shirt was called “The Gamer Matrix” or something like that, but really, it applies to anything — even life in general. Cynical people turn out to be happier people, in that respect.

The most infamous example of this, of course, is “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” Man, George and his father were so excited for that movie. Everyone was. It was the first “Star Wars” movie in something like 15 years, and the trailers and toy props were just feeding the “Star Wars” fever that the nation — nay, world — had caught. I mean, it’s a new “Star Wars”! How could it not suck?

And yet, it did suck. It sucked hard. I don’t think George’s father has fully recovered from that blow to this day, although his excitement for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is disconcertingly palpable. I’m not saying history’s going to repeat itself for “Age of Ultron,” but it’s best to keep an open mind.

That sounds crushing if you’re someone who’s excited for something. There’s no way “Age of Ultron” could be terrible, right? Especially now that Marvel is on a roll with its previous movies. There’s no way this camping trip could go wrong! This date’s going to go perfectly! This family vacation is going to be just what I needed!

Minds like that are set up perfectly to be massively disappointed. There’s a virtue to cynicism. Going in with a dark, hopeless mind will make those hope spots shine much, much brighter. It sounds depressing, but what a virtue it is!

Plus, it makes minds so much easier to control. We brain slugs have to be on the lookout for that. Nope, no ulterior motive behind this article!