How to Go Camping

There are all kinds of intelligence. Let us be frank my dear, I cried my way through statistics in college, I can’t cook, I don’t read modern fiction and I have killed every fish I have been given as a pet. As you know Darling, I am ignorant about documentary movies, modern art, modern architecture, and jazz music. I can’t shoot, scuba, ski, or play any sport involving a ball (including bowling). I am physically unable to spell, sleep with a light on, decorate in an understated manner or carry on a conversation with someone who is playing with a cell phone.

On the other hand, I can camp. Why? Because I got 99th percentile on my GREs in analytical thinking. People need to know their limitations. I am perfectly willing to concede that you are cuter than me, smarter than me, nicer than me, that you are more popular and have whiter teeth. But your analytic GRE score? About 45th percentile. Not bad, I mean no need to hang your head in shame or anything, don’t go jumping off cliffs in despair, but you can’t go camping with me.

And yet how I wish you could. I am tormented worse than Sisyphus – I live surrounded by beautiful scenery with perfect, white sand beaches; deserted coves with warm, clear water and reefs full of fish to see through a snorkel mask and there is only one problem: you. You with the 37 plastic bags of stuff for one night of camping. And you hurt your back, so would I mind hauling your stuff over to the perfect beach which you insisted on coming to, the one with soft sand that I can’t drive on?

You with the theory of minimalist packing, which meant you didn’t have an extra change of clothes so when you got wet, you got cold, got hypothermia and we had to go home early.

You who got to the campsite, set up camp and proceeded to sink into utter silence for five hours.

You who piled all the wood on the fire, despite my specific and repeated protests so that when it was time to go to sleep, we had no fire.

I can quote you chapter and verse of my faults. I am far from perfect. But I got 99th percentile on my analytical GREs and I can go camping. And you? You can’t. Let’s talk food. You either bring nothing or it’s 2 coolers and 10 bags, eight kinds of cheese, four kinds of crackers, six kinds of fruit. You either have one can of Pringles or you have nine little baggies of vegetables, which need to be cut, then wrapped in foil and cooked for hours. You bring one small bottle of water, or you bring the whole liquor cabinet. You show up with sheets, blankets, pillows (plural), comforter and folding cot or you bring nothing to sleep on.

You are, I hate to say it, really annoying. Truly, madly, deeply annoying. In the morning, I stare at you as you are shivering (forgot to bring sweatshirt), burnt (forgot to bring sunscreen), aching (forgot to bring mattress pad), dirty (forgot to bring soap) and cranky (you burnt all the wood last night so there is no wood left to heat morning coffee) and I wonder how you manage to cope with complex tasks like dialing phones and making cereal.

Of course I offered you my extra sweatshirt, sunscreen, extra blanket for padding, and soap because to go camping I have a sleeping mat, tea basket, pillow, blanket, shelter, medical kit, bug spray, sunscreen and a box of water (12 bottles, 1 1/2 liters each) – let me tell you GRE’s 98th percentile is what it is all about – but you said, “No, it’s not necessary.” And here you are ruining my morning with your whinging and picking at incest bites. Most unsightly.

Please allow me to introduce you to Aphrodite. We plan to leave at 10 am. Aphrodite says she will call me when she is 20 minutes from being ready, as it takes 20 minutes to drive to her house. I wake up at 9 am, ready at 9:20. I go to my café and wait for Aphrodite to call me; she calls at 10:30, not ready yet. She calls back at noon. I buy myself a chicken sandwich and go to get her. We make EIGHT trips to get her stuff in my car.

The next morning, it becomes clear that we should have negotiated when we were going to leave. I want to get going; she wants to make a ‘snack.’ Ok. She starts to rummage in her six plastic bags of food, takes out three different kinds of cheese, carefully cuts one slice from each, puts them on hotdog bun with mustard and salt and pepper, wraps this in tinfoil and puts this on fire (from making breakfast tea). Turns this three times, then of course you have to let it cool, eats half. Rummage, rummage. Finds grapes, washes grapes, eats 20 grapes one at a time. 45 minutes later – snack finished, she is ready to pack camp. Which takes me ten minutes; it takes her half an hour with me helping her carry all her stuff.

If you ever want to go camping – call me. I have the car, the mats, the water, and knowledge of all the good spots. But I am want to see your GREs score first.