Calming the Voices of Reason

My mom is one of those “60 Minutes” mothers: She tunes into primetime news magazine shows, and I tune her out the next morning when she calls to warn me against plastic water bottles causing brain cancer and Nigerian princes maliciously soliciting bank account numbers. But in 2003, just after U.S. troops invaded Iraq, she probably had every right to go into“60 Minutes” mode when she learned of my plans to backpack across Europe with a girlfriend that summer. Of course, we didn’t tell her she was justified. Instead, we groaned and rolled our eyes as I suspect countless other spoiled college kids did when the Voice of Reason spoke to them. By the time June rolled around, Reason’s drone had died down to a library-grade whisper, and my friend and I were able to take off for London. We jokingly adopted what we considered “Canadian” accents (“Eh?”) and safely returned to North Florida without incident six weeks later.

Nine years later, I have two moms, and neither is very happy about Him and I setting foot on the Asian and African continents. They’ve absorbed countless breaking news reports about the fallout over Nakoula Basseley Nakoula’s anti-Islamist YouTube video, “Innocence of Muslims,” and have threatened riots of their own if we venture into any locale harboring anti-American sentiments. So that just about narrows down our epic World Trip to…New Zealand? No, no, I jest. My mother and mother-in-law have been miraculously calm and accepting about this whole hare-brained scheme. We have, however, made some concessions and reluctantly crossed off Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and North Korea from our itinerary (actually, after watching the VICE Guide to North Korea, Him is absolutely fascinated about the idea of exploring the mysteriously sinister dictatorship). Egypt has always been high on our list of countries to visit, but the fact that the country’s film critics have universally panned Mr. Nakoula’s film means I doubt I can persuade even Him to tour Giza. Surprisingly, Egypt is not currently on the U.S. Department of State’s travel warning list, but even Arthur Frommer is advising against travel there. We’ve assured the Voices of Reason we’re not going there – and probably not Morocco and Israel – and they seem reasonably content. Now if we could only convince Him’s older brother of the unlikelihood of perishing in a fiery Nepalese plane crash…

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