I was recently invited to go camping. I declined. Actually, first I cringed, then I declined.
Camping means different things to different people. In this case some friends were going to cram themselves into a car with malodorous camping equipment of dubious heritage and drive for hours to set up camp next to hundreds of other 'campers' unfamiliar with the term 'noise pollution.' In my eyes, this is not camping. This is a tent ghetto. When the big earthquake hits our town, I will contemplate survival in such a sheeted metropolis. I will then write a book about my experiences and make millions. I will then never have to camp like that again.
My idea of “roughing it” is cotton/polyester bed linens and/or anything below a 300 thread count. I do not "rough it." Keeping my standards above this eliminates the threat of creepy crawlies, since I’m certain bugs are drawn to cheap materials and sub-par feng shui. Think about it -you’ve never seen an insect at a Dolce & Gabbana show. Unless you count Joan Rivers.
A friend of mine defines camping by the dearth of room service. No room service = camping. To her, this is to be avoided at all costs. I can appreciate this honesty. Certainly beats being enticed out on a long weekend, only to find out that the only ‘call of the wild’ to be heard is coming from the KOA kiddie pool.
On the other hand, I love true camping - hiking into the middle of nowhere, with no one around except perhaps a chipmunk or bear, or even a bear eating a chipmunk. I'd take a bear over a gaggle of tent city rugrats any day. Bears don’t usually blast their boomboxes.
The main proviso is that I am warm and dry. No rain, please, and high-end camping equipment only. Air mattress and down comforter, and I'm there. No cooking, of course. I’ll split a pizza with the bear.
As a kid, I camped quite a bit. We were lucky enough to live on forty acres of land, much of it wooded. Camping meant throwing a few sleeping bags in the back of the pick-up and heading north through the pasture gate. However, since this was in upstate New York, whatever part of me wasn’t eaten by mosquitoes ended up frostbitten. I blame the Montgomery Ward polyester sleeping bags for everything.
It was worth it, though, to wake up in the middle of the night to watch a huge buck snort in fear all over my brother. Nothing says ‘country camping’ quite as nicely as watching a deer blast your little brother with snot.
That said, camping is either a little kid thing, a survival thing, or a comfortable get-away-from-it-all thing. It should never ever be considered as a ‘date.’
Ladies, if a guy ever asks you out on a date to go camping, run.
· Unless your sense of adventure is discovering that rainbow trout gizzards are handy for grinding laundry stains out on a washboard, run.
· Unless you welcome mosquitoes the size of soda cans stuck to your arm, run.
· Unless you enjoy watching leeches slug it out with ticks over mining rights to your legs, run.
Camping is God’s way of letting you know that there’s a lot to be said for indoor plumbing and central air. However there are now wonderful camping resorts that feature luxurious cabins, stellar facilities, and astronomical prices. This further clouds the issue of what ‘camping’ truly is. Luckily, I’m here to clarify:
· Camping Threat Level Red – anything involving parkas, portaging canoes and carrying more DEET than food.
· Camping Threat Level Orange – mosquitoes buzz the theme to “Deliverance”
· Camping Threat Level Yellow – polyester anywhere within a 100 yard radius
· Camping Threat Level Pink – no turn-down service and the pillow mint isn’t European
· Camping Threat Level Chartreuse– you call the spa to make an appointment with the manicurist and they say, “Manny who?”
Once you master these levels, we can move on to the next lesson – how to say ‘yes’ to a camping weekend and manipulate it into a stay at a four-star hotel.