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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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The Force is Strong in This One


We usually manage two camping trips a year, taking full advantage of both weekends in Arkansas during which you will neither suffocate from heat or turn blue from the cold. There is one in October, and one in April. At no time can you rule out the possibility that you and your family will be carried off by mosquitos, but one has to live life.

Last April, we were camped out in a two bedroom condo while our new house was being made ready, so there was no need to manufacture the experience of five of us crammed into a tiny, temporary space with a minimum of cooking equipment. We even got to go caving in the understairs closet during the tornadoes. Outward Bound couldn't test your mettle like those six weeks.

But come October, I was ready to hit the wild again.

As I have mentioned before, my husband is not enamored of camping. He is forty-five years old and likes neither his mattress or his toilet pulled out from under him. Also, he complains about the effort to reward ratio involved in camping: two days of packing and unpacking, setting up and breaking down, loading and unloading; to four slices of bacon and cold, runny eggs.

It takes a strategic mix of threats, bribery, and aspersions on his manhood to get him to commit to a date. This year, I threw in a deluxe air mattress and a promise to ban the children from it, made possible by a new, three-room tent won with debit card reward points and large enough to be visible from space.

I also picked the weekend of our cub scout's pack campout so as to have the full weight of societal and patriarchal obligation behind me.

I am the Rumsfield of the domestic agenda, the Emperor Palpatine. Resistance is futile.

Mission accomplished. We camped last weekend, much to the delight of me and my two oldest sons. Patrick was a good sport. It fell to the Littlest Who to do the complaining I'd have missed otherwise. "I want to go home," he wailed every night when he and his brothers were tucked into their wing of the tent. More dramatically, "I can't feel my legs," when asked to walk more than ten feet under his own steam.

"I'm dead," he told me at one point, when I pleaded with him to pick up the pace to more than an inch a minute.

"You're not dead," I argued. "How can you still be walking?"

"I'm dead walking."

And what do you think our zombie was howling as we pulled away from the campground on Sunday?


If I didn't need a shower so badly, I wouldn't have wanted to go home yet either.




Blogger Chris said...

I have to say, I'm with Patrick and your youngest on this one (prior to his change of heart). Along with being beautiful, you're very hardy.

By the way, at first I thought you had panty hose on, then I realized your toes were peeking through holes in your socks. Adorable.

9:08 AM  
Blogger beth♥ said...

Wonderfully witty! 'Tis true. AR has only a couple decent weekends a year ... not that I camp, but there you are.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

I'm waiting on number 3 to come of age before beginning the yearly family camping ritual. I can't wait and AR is a beautiful place to do it. I envy the tent mansion by the way.

10:26 AM  
Blogger lenniekat said...

this one cracked me up. i can just hear "young luke" talk about walking dead - my V mentions zombies somewhat frequently (sorry?). i especially enjoyed your tender dogging of the husband's necessary comforts. 'pulled out from under him', indeed. you bully, you.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Those are holes in my socks. Can you believe I was even allowed in Hermes?

Fall & spring days in arkansas are generally gorgeously temperate. It's the nights that are dicey.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Neil said...

I'm with Patrick, too. Who needs all that outdoorsy stuff? Next time, I'll come over and watch TV with him while you go camping with your girlfriends.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Joy! said...

Hee! That writing in the first paragraph just slayed me!

I come from camping people, too, and have camped in all kinds of situations, mostly willingly. If nothing else, one can brag about it later. There's a certain misery:fun ratio to maintain, though. S'mores and hot chocolate always help.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Add me to the chorus of Patrick supporters: it's not for no reason that humanity is pretty much agreed that houses and beds beat sleeping on the ground outside. And when you add the work:fun ratio of weekend camping, well, a coupla cold ones and a good college football game sounds just right for my fall Saturdays.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Misbehaving said...

Me and my youngest go camping a couple times a year, usually in October or November. We are minimalist, taking only a two man tent, very little supplies, and staying only one night (I can't give up my College Football Saturday's). We both love it and get so much from it, being alone just the two of us in the wilderness.

Taking on the Nazi's together in a game of Call of Duty could never compare.

7:02 AM  

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