Well, it’s almost vacation time.
Are you desperate to get out of town?
Are you longing for the bright lights of a big city? Or, would you rather
trek into the woods, build a campfire, and commune with nature?
Can you guess which option I’d choose?
I have never been a happy camper. There
are just too many icky, tricky things involved.
Back when I was wildly in love, I
allowed myself to be talked into a camping trip. I focused
on the aspects that were positively romantic, rather than the reality.
Our trip began nicely enough. We
borrowed a tent, and everything that goes inside one. I provided a
gaily-colored set of plastic picnic dishes and utensils. I packed all kinds
of things I could imagine us sharing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And, I
smartly decided to bring along a bottle of Scotch.
Who knew that Scotch would be the
smartest thing I could have packed?
We traipsed into the forest and set up a
little weekend homesite, far from the madding crowds. (I can never fathom
why people go into the woods to camp, and then surround themselves with
hordes of other campers. What possible kind of getaway is that? Seems about
as much fun to me as spending a few days in a hurricane evacuation shelter.)
We built a cozy little campfire and
frolicked in a stream. My companion, a self-proclaimed expert, began to
impart all sorts of camping tips.
“Several times a day, we have to check
each other for ticks,” he said.
“Huh?” This idea seemed not even
“This is how,” he said, as he began
running his fingers through my hair. I was reminded of monkeys in the
“Aha!” he cried. “There’s
I fervently hoped that this was a joke
of some sort, and inquired about that very thing.
It was no joke. We had been in the woods
for less than an hour, and somehow a tick had burrowed its horrid way into
I became quite upset, and started to
weep a little. I began to blabber about clean sheets and room service.
“Do you have any tweezers?” he
Tweezers were not among the many, many
things I had packed. Even I knew that intense personal grooming tasks might
be abandoned during a weekend in the woods.
“Did you happen to bring a lighter?”
my companion then inquired.
I had, but I was not about to hand it
over to someone with his hands in my hair.
“I’ll have to think about what to
do,” he said, starting to pace.
I knew exactly what to do: Panic.
I had seen ticks before. While dog
sitting, I discovered huge things clinging to a dog’s fur. I placed a
concerned call to the owners.
“Oh, those are just ticks,” they
said, unfazed. “Pull them off, and drop them in that jug of gasoline out
in the woodshed.”
The idea was completely abhorrent to me.
Nonetheless, we tramped out to the woodshed and performed the ghastly duty.
To this day, even thinking about it turns
I furtively surveyed our campsite. We
had no gasoline. This made me almost happy. Gasoline, lighters, hair: Three
words no woman wants to hear used in the same sentence.
“We’ve got to get that little sucker
out of there,” my companion mused.
By this time, my choices were two: Freak
out completely and run screaming from the woods, never to return; or, try to
calm down and brace myself for the ordeal ahead.
“Bring me the Scotch!” I cried.
“Hey,” he said, “that’s not a
He rummaged through the supplies and
came trotting back over, bottle in hand.
“Surely you don’t expect me to slug
it out of the bottle,” I whimpered. “Bring me a cup.”
“Watch this,” he said. He unscrewed
the cap and poured a few drops into it. “Bend
down,” he demanded.
I had no idea what might be coming, but
I did as directed. He then poured the Scotch onto the tick in my head.
“It’s backing out!” he yelled.
Sure enough, the little bloodsucker had
quickly exited my scalp. He enjoyed a happy death, I presume, drowning in a
capful of premium-brand liquor.
It took far less time to “break
camp” than it did to set things up. I walked briskly, but did not run,
from the woods. I did not scream. I will never return.