'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
ENJOYING THE GREAT OUTDOORS AT NIGHT
My wife and I recently attended an outdoor evening concert with some friends. Along with hundreds of other people, we set up our chairs, cooler, and picnic basket on a vast lawn that was so lush the groundskeepers at Augusta National would’ve been jealous. The weather was even better. We lucked out with one of those perfect summer nights. The temperature and humidity were ideal, and a refreshing light breeze kept the mosquitoes away.
As I leaned back in my chair, I gazed at the stars, absorbed all the wonderful sensations, and thought to myself that it had been far too long since my wife and I enjoyed the great outdoors at night. So I turned to my wife and said, “We should go camping.”
In reply, she smiled, paused thoughtfully for a moment, and then said, “Are you INSANE!? Don’t you remember what happened the last time we went camping?!”
Actually, I didn’t remember. It had been over 20 years since our last camping trip. I have a tough time remembering what happened last week, let alone 20 years ago.
It all came back to me when my wife described the air mattress that sprung a leak and slowly deflated, causing us to wake up at 2 a.m. pressed flat against a large rock. Then at 4 a.m. it started to rain—hard. A small stream quickly materialized at the entrance of our tent and we fought a losing battle trying to keep water from spilling in. At 5 a.m. we surrendered, and hastily shoved all our soaking wet gear into the trunk of the car and drove home. I battled both the steady downpour and sleep deprivation in an attempt to keep our car from driving off the road.
The couple who had joined us at the evening concert overheard our discussion, and added some interesting camping experiences of their own. A few highlights included: a raccoon falling out of a tree right on top of their tent; lighting an oil lamp late at night, which revealed a skunk no more than three feet away; falling asleep next to the tent flap and being awakened by the sensation of something very furry rubbing against one’s arm; and noticing that a bag of potato chips in the tent seemed to be moving all by itself, and then realizing that a snake was slithering under the tent floor.
We hadn’t even gotten to any stories about insects, mice, or bats (which are nothing more than flying mice), when my wife said to me, “So, do you still want to go camping?”
“No, no,” I whimpered. “Right now, I don’t feel like ever leaving the house again!” I spent the rest of the concert nervously surveying the patch of lawn all around us, a paranoid sentry on the lookout for any signs of the enemy: raccoons, skunks, or snakes. When my wife tapped me on the forearm, about to ask if I was enjoying the concert, I leaped from my chair and shrieked like a schoolgirl. As everyone within a 50-foot radius turned and stared at me, I said, “Sorry. I, uh…I really like this music.”
On the ride home we concluded that camping is still a fine activity and a good way to enjoy the great outdoors at night. But it’s important to choose the right camp site. A proper camp site should include: a Sealy Posturepedic mattress, clean sheets, air conditioning, flush toilet, shower massage, hair dryer, cable TV, mini bar, an ice machine out in the hallway, room service, and a mint on the pillow.
Yeah, now that’s my idea of “roughing it.”
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