Say Hi to Aunty Camping
The heat of the summer makes us do crazy things. A friend of mine called me last week and asked me to go camping. This is a new friend, one who doesn’t know my stance on camping. She obviously didn’t get the memo. She’s the fitness type — does hot yoga four times a week. You know hot yoga, where they crank up the heat and you’re forced to do the downward dog in 150-degree temperatures? It’s like paying for a hot flash.
Anyhow, this yogic friend thought I was an outdoorsy person. I look the type. I have a Kellogg’s Cornflakes face. People take one look at me and want to take me on a hike. Living on an island doesn’t help. People think that if you live in the country, you must like gardening and baking apple pie. They’re half right. I like to watch people garden while I eat pie.
I hate camping. Camping is evil. My idea of roughing it is when I check into a hotel room and discover there is no room service.
I have never outed myself on this subject before, mainly because camping advocates are like golf fanatics, who think you’re kidding when you say you have no desire to walk around an eighteen-hole golf course in the heat of the day, trying to get a ball into a little hole. They consider it their personal mission to convert you.
The first lie camping advocates tell you is that it’s so peaceful out there in nature. Actually, nature is bloody noisy: all that wind, the grackles and crows getting up at the crack of dawn. Why is it that all the ugly loud birds have to get up early and squawk outside my tent?
And sound carries near the water. You can hear everything people are saying and doing. A campground is a bunch of gassy people packed together like sardines. It’s like going to the suburbs, but with a longer commute.
Camping aficionados try to put a spiritual spin on it by saying it’s good for the soul. Really? You will not find camping mentioned in any of the world’s good books: not the Bible, not the Koran, and not the Talmud. Not one of these books mentions camping as part of the soul’s development. In fact, the Jews had a word for camping — exile.
Still, my soul did give camping the ol’ college try. I have kept diaries illuminating the many times I’ve attempted to commune with nature after nightfall.
Take this excerpt from my diary, when I was age nine: “Dear Diary: Beneath the twinkling stars, as we picked gray ash off our marshmallows, Mom gave me heck for using starter fluid to light the campfire. She assures me my eyebrows will grow back eventually.”
Or how about this one at age eleven: “Dear Diary: During daylight hours, the Girl Guide tent seemed to be pitched on flat ground, but as the night wore on, I found I was on the wrong end of the slant. The blood rushed to my head; the air mattress slowly leaked air until it was one flat pancake. And there, at the Sandbanks, was that one and only rock, which lodged itself in my back, doing permanent kidney damage.”
Age seventeen: “I thought that after all the lemon gin, I’d pass out. I have blackfly bites all over my tuckus from losing sixteen games of strip poker. Spent most of the night heaving over the three-seater commode.”
At around twenty-eight years of age, I stopped trying. But then I got married and had kids, and one summer day, my husband said we should go camping. It would be a fun family holiday, he said. He knew about the tent ban; it had been part of our prenup. It was written that we would never attempt camping, wallpapering, or shopping together at Ikea. But somehow he managed to convince me to give it a try — he’s a golfer. We made our way to the wild woods, this time renting a tent trailer.
What is it about a musty smell and centipedes that gets a man in the mood to try something exotic? In the throes of passion, he started spanking — himself. Don’t think it didn’t ruin the mood when he started screaming, “For God’s sake, get the mosquitoes off my winky!” As we sat basking in the glow of calamine lotion, he wondered if the neighbours had heard us through our soundproof canvas walls. “No, honey,” I assured him, “I’m sure it was sheer coincidence that those nice men came by on their four-wheelers singing the theme song to Deliverance.”
I know it may sound a bit grandiose, but I believe I am the chief activator of violent climate change. If ever I was camping on a beautiful sunny summer day, surprise tornados and flash floods would appear out of nowhere and devastate a provincial park within minutes. So I have stopped camping, for my sake and yours. But like a bad lover, I’ve given camping one too many second chances. The only “sole”-full thing I have ever experienced while camping was cleaning doo-doo off the bottom of my Crocks. Apparently, bears do shit in my neck of the woods.
Now stop avoiding writing and get back to work. 🙂