Jon DeVos – Just sittin’ in the campfire
Winter Park, Colorado
A few years ago, my wife was out of town and I celebrated that fact by selling our camping tent at a neighbor’s garage sale. It was a nice tent with only one flaw: It attracted lightning. Well, OK, two flaws: It attracted lightning and bugs, big bugs with jaws like hedge clippers. No, no, make that three flaws: It attracted lightning and bugs and feral packs of howling children terrorizing campsites with eyes that glow in the dark.
The camping tent was invented by divorce attorneys. Most models are only slightly harder to erect than the Seattle Space Needle: “Darn it, I AM holding the stake steady. When I nod my head, you hit it with the hammer. Think you can at LEAST handle that? OK, NOW!” (loud smacking sound) “OW, OW, OW!”
My wife claims to enjoy camping, so I show my support with hysterical sobbing and loud theatrical moans. I was born in downtown Los Angeles. I regard camping as trespassing on some bear’s property, beyond all hope of medical attention. I maimed two-thirds of my Cub Scout Pack with a can of pork and beans I was warming in the fire.
Street lights were invented for a reason. There are things in the dark of nature that will bite you without remorse. House cats bite people all the time; think what a renegade muskrat could do. Once a muskrat tastes human flesh, they’ll always hunger for more. I know they’re out there, snapping and snarling in the underbrush, waiting for you to fall asleep. To sleep; not a chance to dream because a rock shaped like Florida is digging into your back.
Falling asleep in the forest is like sticking your neck out at a vampire. Who can sleep with a zipper tab jammed up their nose? Getting comfortable in a tent only happens when that rock digging into your back finally severs some important nerve and you thankfully lose all sensation. Just as your eyelids start to sink slowly into the west, your bladder yells, “I gotta go look at the stars,” but your arms are pinned in the sleeping bag and in panic, you flop around like a beached orca. Free at last, at the expense of an irreplaceable zipper, you find yourself stumbling around in the dark, exposing some doggone important body parts to bloodthirsty packs of wild muskrats, roaring and pawing up dirt in the underbrush.
Quickly you dive back into your sleeping bag, poking Florida through the bottom of your air mattress. The hissing noise is so loud you can barely hear your wife’s shaky voice asking what kind of noise a rabid wolverine makes. Eventually, eternity passes. It must be nearing dawn. Coffee sounds good, you’ll need the energy to pack the car. You shine a flashlight on your watch: It’s 12:45 a.m. You groan in despair, causing your wife to shriek, thinking the muskrats have attacked.
If you’re the one who bought my tent, happy camping. And, uh, don’t let your insurance lapse.
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