I have a series of well-worn rants about camping that anyone who knows me is familiar with (and probably sick of). It starts with, I hate camping. Hate, as my mother always said, is a very strong word. In this case, I would argue, it’s not strong enough.
I am not a good camper, and I don’t want to be. My idea of
roughing it is a hotel that doesn’t have room service. If by “camping” you mean
a weekend at the Four Seasons, including spa treatments and complimentary all-you-can-drink
champagne, put my name at the top of the list. If “camping” involves any of the
following: tents, woods, bears, insects, lanterns, portable stoves, outdoor
fires, dirt, trees, pay showers or toilets (or, god forbid, peeing in the woods
and not showering at all) or sleeping bags, then you go on without me.
My mother was not a camper, nor her parents before her. I
suppose at some point in our family history there were people who were camping
sorts, mostly because if you go far enough back in history, life itself basically
was camping, but I’m sure given the
choice, they would have said, “Fuck this shit,” and happily moved into a three
bedroom, two bath rambler (I come from a very practical family). But that's one of the things I don’t get about
camping. Human beings have spent thousands of years developing things like indoor
plumbing, leave-in conditioner, and the automatic ice maker just so we wouldn’t
have to live in crude tents with no air conditioning and warm wine. Why abandon
all that our species has worked so hard to achieve and return to what they were
clearly trying to get away from?
Perhaps I just miss what’s supposed to be fun about camping.
I’ve done it, and in my experience it involves packing up everything you need
to survive for a couple of days in your car, driving it out into the wilderness
somewhere far away from the nearest Starbucks or liquor store, unpacking it
all, setting it all up to make it “like home,” hanging out in the woods for a
couple of days with wild animals and bugs (some of whom consider you a menu item), then packing everything back up in your car, driving it
all home, unpacking it all, and washing it because everything that goes into the woods for more than three and a half
minutes gets fucking filthy.
What about any of that is fun?
And when you do go out there, there are so many things that
you leave behind that just can't accompany you. The dish washer. The hot water heater.
The refrigerator. A real mattress. I don’t know about you, but those are pretty
key components of my daily existence.
Some friends of ours recently decided to buy an RV. The
husband and the three boys think there’s nothing more fun than executing the steps I
describe above, while the wife is a bit more lukewarm about it, but she decided
that maybe an RV would make it slightly
more enjoyable (she is such a fucking
optimist). We went with them to the RV show to look around. Every single one of
them was decorated in shades of brown and mauve (the RVs, not the friends). It’s like the people who
choose the finishes for RVs have an endless supply of materials (and taste) from 1975. So
not only do you have to, like, camp, you have to camp with ugliness. I’m
convinced that Hell is not a single fiery inferno, but more like a series of
rooms with different horrific experiences from this earthly life, and you go
from one to another, experiencing them all, for all eternity. The interior of an RV will be one of those rooms.
I have friends who actually own something called a “fifth
wheel” (I’m not entirely clear what this is, and really don’t want to know; I just
know it’s some damned camper thing). She maintains that they’re “not really”
camping because they have a bedroom, bathroom, and full working kitchen. So I have
to ask the obvious question, why fucking
bother? When we went to the RV show, for the right price, there were RVs
with televisions, fireplaces, separate bedrooms, and full bathrooms. If your “camper”
is so much like a home that being in it is like not even leaving home, then don’t. Every year before the “camping
season” begins, my friend has to take stock of this trailer/camper thing and
make sure she has enough things like dish soap, toilet paper, wine glasses (this is a
friend of mine, remember) etc for the trips they’ll take. So she’s basically
replicated her home kitchen in this thing. And they have to own a big ass pick
up truck to pull it. This is so much more bullshit than I’m willing to endure,
all just to go hang out in the dirty, buggy woods, or on some windy beach someplace with a million sand flies for company. She assures me I would adore
it. She has grossly misread the situation.
All of this distaste for the idea of camping stems
from the fact that I am what you would call indoorsy. I love to enjoy the
outdoors. From the indoors. Through the window. Nothing makes me happier than a
beautiful spring or fall day sitting in my house with the windows or French doors
(or both) open. I don’t like being
outside. Outside there are bugs and shit. Inside there are not (and if they
come in, I can squash them. And I do). This rabid desire people have to be out
of doors is just beyond me. If God had intended us to be outside all the time, he wouldn’t
have given us the heat pump. And if God had intended me to camp, he wouldn’t
have given us the concept of not camping.
(The title of this post is taken from Anne Taintor. If you haven't ever seen her stuff, I assume you're new here on planet Earth, but by all means go look around. She's a hoot.)