My husband and I decided we were going to take a mini camping trip in our backyard before I would agree to accompany him on a real camping trip. The camping checklist was quite luxurious for him, a fact that he seemed to bemoan the entire time. I had no shame in including my lipstick and makeup, air freshener and battery-operated portable heater. After all, a camping list should be full of the things that make you comfortable, right?
Camping Equipment Really Should be for Camping
My rationale in bringing the heater was that I did not want anyone to get sick. Our youngest child was prone to colds even if you looked at him hard, and I knew I would be the one taking care of him if anything major happened. As I explained in much detail later, I should have been lauded for my thoughtfulness instead of ridiculed for my choices.
When it was time to get some sleep that first night, I was totally proud that I had added the heater to our camping checklist. I flittered my toes inside the sleeping bag to get ready for a good night's sleep. As I glanced over at my husband, I noticed that he was smirking and shaking his head. That was nothing new, so I ignored it.
Within about 40 minutes, I started to smell smoke. I shook my husband away and he immediately started laughing. Was he trying to play a trick on me to teach me a lesson about the camping list that he had repeatedly called "girly?" I unzipped the tent and poked my head out to find my beloved heater smoking.
I bit my jaws and fought every urge to scream in fear. While I did not like the idea of being on fire, I also did not want to hear my husband's remarks for the next 50 years about how he was right about the camping equipment we needed for the trip. I tried to fan the smoke, until my husband appeared with a pail of dirt, dumping it all on the heater and smothering the smoke.
I was happy to see the smoke gone, but still determined not to let him know that he was right. After the smoke was gone, he kept erupting every few minutes in fits of laughter. Every so often, I heard him saying under his breath, "Bet you'll listen to me the next time you decide to do your own camping checklist." I zipped up the two sleeping bags I had brought and went to sleep.
My Idea of Fresh Was Better Than Nature's
The next day, my husband and the boys had already started cooking a rudimentary breakfast over a pit they had made in our backyard. I was happy to have missed this part of the ritual, especially since the meal preparation part of it seemed to have involved cleaning fish. Really, who ate fish for breakfast? That certainly had not been on my camping list.
I had to give them kudos, though. The fish was delicious. For a while after we ate, we sat around telling funny stories, singing and watching the kids chase each other. I could still smell the fish, and it was not agreeing with my nose. I remembered the air freshener I had packed with our camping equipment, and I sprung towards it.
I knew there was another small adventure around the corner because my husband started his fitful laughing again. I began spraying our entire area with the air freshener. Before long, the area where we had been sleeping was full of gnats, flies and small bugs. I seemed to be screaming every five minutes for fear that one of them would get too close.
This time both my husband and my sons had a blast laughing at me. "I told you this was a camping trip," he said to me. "This is no place for any hoity-toity spray because, in case you have not figured it out, the bugs love it!" I wanted to run in the house, but did not want to lose face by giving up the promise to stay the entire weekend.
And If the Spray Was Not Enough
My husband helped us move to another part of the yard, away from where I had sprayed. He hugged me between his bursts of laughter to try to make me feel better. I knew now that air freshener did not belong on any camping list. It was a lesson learned the hard way.
The next day, my husband announced that we would be going for a hike. Since I knew this meant marching through our neighborhood to get to Pirates Park to the hiking trails, I wanted to look my best. I was not about to have Garla Thomas see me looking haggard.
I reached for the mirror I had hidden in my bag and was horrified by how rough I looked. I could not believe my husband or sons had not said anything about my appearance. Within minutes, I had pulled out my makeup compact, lipstick and hairbrush to try to get myself together. I pulled my hair into a ponytail and stepped out of the tent.
My husband just shook his head and breathed hard. "Alrighty," he said, as if he were resigning to my prissiness. As soon as we turned the first corner, Garla Thomas was on her front porch waving and glaring. I was so glad I had tidied myself, and I charged forth with my head high.
The trail provided a new challenge altogether. Not only was the makeup making me sweat more, but I also seemed to be drawing a lot of wasps to me. While I had been putting on my makeup in the tent, my husband and the boys were washing their bodies in insect repellent.
I did not understand how far off the rails I had gone with my camping checklist for this trip until I felt the first stinger sinking deep into the side of my face. This ended our hiking adventure, since I was allergic to the wasp that stung me. My husband vowed not to ever let me be in charge of the camping list again.
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