This past weekend my dear brother, Andy and his fiancée, Tiffany, invited me to go camping with them. I am 30 years old and have never actually gone camping, so I excitedly accepted their invitation. After the phone call was over, I skipped cheerfully into my home office, which is where my Eagle scout husband and my two boy scout sons keep their camping gear. I found a black backpack that I recalled seeing going out the door on more than one boy scout camp-out. I grabbed it up and inside was some roll of some plastic stuff; I never did figure out what that was for, so I set it aside. There was a folded up blanket thing that was silver. Who needs something like that on a camping trip, I didn't even know what it was, so I set it aside as well. Then I found an orange thing! People wear these orange things in the woods so they don't get mistaken as deer and shot. Yes, must pack the orange thing, even though it looked kind of small, and I couldn't figure out how to get it on, I packed it, assured that my woodland brother would know what to do with it. I took the orange thing and the backpack into my room and decided right away that the backpack was not going to be big enough so I took it back to the office. Back in my room I pulled out my red rolling carry-on bag with gold Fleur-de-lis on it. This was bigger, and would work well, and BONUS, it rolls, I don't have to carry it! Feeling rather smug about my camping choices thus far, I began to pack. I packed four pairs of panties, because you never know when you will need extra. I was wearing a pair of pants, so I packed only one other pair of Old Navy button-leg pants, and my comfy Old Navy pajama pants with matching pajama shirt. I put in four pair of socks, just in case there was a sock emergency. I packed four shirts because I didn't know what mood I might be in the next day, so I wanted options. The only tennis-like shoe I own are a set of black and white checked Converse sneakers, so I packed those in case my cute flip flops were not enough foot protection. "Oh", I thought to myself, "what if we get attacked by muggers or something?" So into the red and gold fleur-de-lis rolling suitcase went a small, heavy bat shaped tire thumper, a screwdriver with pink, purple, green and yellow flowers on the handle, a pair of pliers (in case I had to pinch someone to death?) and a leather-man tool with three pocket knives in it. I am now armed to battle any force of nature that comes my way. Next, I packed my electric toothbrush, a pouch that had little soap sheets that I bought at some sporting store, Neosporin in a magnetic case that also had a key ring, a hair-pick and broad toothed comb for unruly curly hair, a headband, and two different packs of barrettes (again, so I had choices for hair styling depending on the mood of the next day), Olay SPF 15 rejuvenating cream with a touch of tint and two diet cokes. Here I come nature, stay the hell out of my path or I will be forced to unleash something awesome that I had packed! Next... TO THE KITCHEN. I would pack enough food to make sure that if this trip ended up being more than one night, I at least, would be prepared. Feeling even more smug than before, I packed into one of my Tupperware-like baskets with clear sides (so you could easily see what was in it) with locking blue lid with a handle, a pack of ramen noodles, a package of unopened crackers, a can of peaches and a can of pears, two cans of something called potted meat (chicken flavor), six slices of bread sealed in plastic wrap, a four pack of plastic silverware, a plastic cup, and a granola bar found in the pantry from God knows when. Food is taken care of. I'M not going to starve out there in the wilderness, darn it. I packed my plushy pillow into the suitcase, sat on the case and got that sucker zipped. I still had no place for my warm fuzzy blanket, so I called my Boy scout husband and asked what to do with it. He told me to attach it to the outside of my pack. "Um... ok, how do I do that exactly?" With string, I was informed. I don't have string. Well, I'll just carry it. After all, I can't freeze to death. I was so prepared by now that I was feeling the amount of smugness that the pope must feel after listening to pathetic sinners.
LATER AT THE CAMPSITE
First I give my brother the orange thing because we don't want to get shot. He looked it over, handed it to Tiffany, she looked it over and we all decided it must be some kind of face mask. Upon further inspection Andy found the tag and I had brought along a dog vest. Well, we could still hang it in the tree so no one shoots in this general direction, right? My well thought out question only brought well meant laughter my way from my brother and his fiancée. I'm sure they meant it in the nicest way possible. Andy unloaded my bucket of food and held it up and stared at me. "What?" I asked thinking he was about to compliment me on my food packing. He laughed and told me we were only staying one night, how was I supposed to cook the ramen noodles, and how was I going to open any of the cans as I had packed no can opener. Together he and Tiffany laughed at me. I was ok with that, after all, they needed to bond, this would be good for them; I was willing to oblige. Then he held up my warm fuzzy blanket and asked if I had really only brought one blanket. Well, of course I did, I didn't have room for more and this blanket was really warm. He told me it was going to be thirty degrees that night. I assured him it would be fine. Andy and Tiffany exchanged well meant looks and laughed another well meant laugh.
AS THE NIGHT WENT ON AND IT GOT DARK
I had eaten (off of a wild stick) a hotdog and a s'more. Suddenly my tummy gave me the rumble that meant I was about to rid my body of a hotdog and s'more. "Uh, Andy," I said "I need to do a number two". "Well, go that way (pointing to the absolute dark away from our campsite), I don't want to see you do it", he told me. "But it's dark out there" I smartly pointed out. I was told to just go. So I grabbed my toilet paper and went to a spot right in front of his truck and over just enough where no one could see what I had done in the morning. Well, cold air and stage fright took over and my body sealed itself so shut that nothing could have left or entered my body at any point. So, I pulled my pants back on, kept my toilet paper and walked back to camp. I sat in front of the fire a little while longer and digestion took over and insisted I try to do another number two. SO, I walked back to my spot, held myself up with my cane, and tried to relax. Finally nature took it's course and I managed to "let it loose". The only problem was that my body weight, being over 200 pounds was trying to stay up on leg muscles that had atrophied a bit due to a stroke and were burning at the weight they were trying to hold up. I finally finished my business and triumphantly went back to camp announcing I had made poo in the woods and didn't even get anything on myself. I was so proud. Proud people are often struck with something bad by God. Six diet cokes later, I really had to do a number one. I was taken to a tree that I could lean against, was told to "pop a squat" and handle my business. No one showed me how to pop a squat. "I am not popping this squat properly", I thought as pee flowed from me all down my right leg and into my shoe and down my left leg and into my other shoe. The problem was that I had had to force myself to relax again and in such a state, I couldn't close the floodgates. I stood there peeing all over myself for about two or three minutes. Finally finishing, I screamed for Andy to bring me new pants and socks and underwear (I chose him because Tiffany had already gone to bed). Laughing another well meant laugh, he brought those things to me as I changed butt naked in the wild; only before changing, I had to wash myself off with paper towels and ice water directly from the cooler, in thirty degree temperatures.
At about two or three in the morning, Andy and I decided to crawl into the tent. Imagine if you will a big fat woman crawling through a tent door onto a squishy blowup mattress. Now imagine this scene except that the left half of this woman's body won't coordinate the way it used to and has little muscle strength left. I was starting to feel that all this laughter wasn't quite as well meant as I had wanted to believe. Let me just get through this part fast. My blanket let me down in the fact that it is no match whatsoever for thirty degree weather, so it left me fighting all night for some of Andy and Tiffany's four or five blankets which they were not wont to share. Occasionally I slept on this really uncomfortable bar under the tent that turned out to be my own cane, which I could have removed at any time, and my feet got so cold I was sure I would have to have some toes removed the next day.
So, all in all, camping was pretty good because no one shot us. Otherwise, no one ate my food, we didn't even have a dog to put the orange dog jacket on, I peed all over myself, everyone laughed at me, I froze to death and probably ended up with e-coli or something from eating off of wild sticks.