I’ll bet you love to go camping, don’t you? Yeah, I can just see you and Mother Nature toasting marshmallows in the fire. Well, I’m not a camper, and I never will be. It’s not that I don’t enjoy sleeping outdoors, smelling like wet socks, or going a week without brushing my teeth. Heck, that would be more luxurious living than my freshman year at college was. The main camping problem I have is much, much simpler: I’m just no good at following all the rules.
The first rule of camping is simple: "Don’t pitch a tent on top of an ant mound." Before you ask, "What kind of moron camps on a bed of ants," remember that no one’s perfect. It was dark, and we had to get our tents up as quickly as possible, and I didn’t see the stupid mound. My ankles stopped swelling sometime that night, but the whelps took most of the summer to go away. I hate ants, and I hate tents, but most of all, I hate ants in tents.
The second rule is also simple: "Don’t camp during a monsoon." I blew that rule when the entire sky opened up for a solid weekend of rain as I was camping in an ancient tent that was manufactured when waterproofing was an optional accessory. If you want to know what that’s like, wrap yourself up in an old bed sheet, and go roll around in a mud puddle. That’s pretty accurate, but if you throw in a few fire ants, you’ll be closer to the full pleasure of the experience.
I can’t even follow the simplest rule: "Try to have fun." Do you know what it’s like to camp in the back of a pickup truck and sleep on a makeshift bed - also known as "a piece of plywood"? It gives you a lot of time to think. And for a little kid in the middle of a North Carolina forest, a "time to think" is not a fun thing, especially when you’re surrounded by insane animals salivating for a tasty snack served up on a plywood platter.
So, camping just isn’t for me. Go have fun with your marshmallows and your complex rules. I’ll stay home, thank you. I’ve got a full can of ant spray, my roof doesn’t leak, and no one’s going to make me sleep on a slab of plywood and sing Kumbaya.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.