'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)
NOSTALGIC ABOUT PAST CAMPING ADVENTURES
We have a running joke in my family. When one person says, “What would you rather do: go camping, or have a tonsillectomy performed with a pair of rusty scissors?” the other person replies by immediately opening his or her mouth wide and saying, “AHHHHH!”
Suffice to say we’re not big fans of camping. Oh, we’ve tried camping in the past, back when we were young and foolish. Our last camping adventure took place 23 years ago. At the time, my wife was pregnant, a physical condition that makes comfortable sleep challenging even in the best of circumstances. Inside our little tent, while pondering the most accurate description of our circumstances, the word “best” never entered the conversation.
The ground where our tent was pitched, which looked very level to the eye at 10 a.m., was far from level to the prone body at 10 p.m. At about midnight our air mattress sprung a leak, and within minutes we were laying hard against a sharp rock. At about 2 a.m. it started raining. The day before I distinctly remember the TV weatherman saying, “Slight chance of showers.” He definitely did not use the phrase, “Deluge of biblical proportions.”
Then things really got bad. Seven levels of the food chain decided to take shelter from the rain inside our tent. Mosquitoes snuck in thru a gap in the tent flap. Bats then fluttered in looking for the mosquitoes. A hawk came in eager to dine on the bat. An eagle came in after the hawk. Then Wile E. Coyote came in hoping to catch the large bird. Finally, Elmer Fudd poked his head in thru the tent flap and said, “Shhh. Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits. Ha ha ha.”
OK, maybe those last few members of the food chain were actually sleep deprivation-induced hallucinations. But there were definitely many other life forms inside that tent besides my wife and me and our unborn daughter.
As the un-pregnant person inside the tent, I was willing to try and fall asleep lying in two inches of standing water, against a sharp rock, while tilted at an angle. I might have been able to doze off if it weren’t for the mosquitoes buzzing inside my ear canals and the spiders spinning webs in my nostrils.
My wife, on the other hand, would not even try to doze off. She carefully explained I could choose either one of two options. I could shove all our camping gear into the trunk of the car and drive us home IMMEDIATELY. Or I could have my tonsils removed with rusty camp kitchen utensils. I almost jokingly opened my mouth wide and said, “AHHHHH!” but I could see she was already clutching a metal spork in her fist.
The reason I relate these past camping adventures is because I’ve been having an odd thought recently. During some of the gorgeous evenings we experienced earlier this summer—crisp, clear air and stars twinkling brightly in the sky—I thought to myself, “I think I’d like to try camping again.”
I almost worked up the courage to mention this idea to my wife. The other evening I came into the kitchen after star-gazing out on the deck, and I said, “Honey, what do you think about going—” but I paused in mid-sentence when I noticed she was clutching in her fist, maybe it was coincidence or maybe it was female intuition, a rusty pair of needle-nose pliers.
Realizing it was futile, I just leaned my head back, opened my mouth wide, and said, “AHHHHH!”
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