Weekly Shocks' Blog



Camping (aka, Spending Money to be Voluntarily Homeless)

One of the dangers in living in a country as beautiful and temperately mild as the UK is that you occasionally run into people who think spending lots of time sleeping on the ground outside and fending off wild animals is just the most brilliant idea in the whole wide world. I seem to know all of these weirdos. Most of my friends know better by now, but when I first moved to this country, every six weeks or so one of them would drop acid and then suggest six of us pile into a tent designed for two small children, hike through the wilderness until pus-filled blisters oozed through our socks, and then ended up wishing each and every one of the others were dead, eaten by wolves, and roasting in hell. Ah, good times.

I may not have made myself clear: I am not a fan of camping. Seriously, what’s the point? I’m spending a bloody fortune to educate myself so I won’t have to be a homeless bum burning leaves for warmth. Why do it “for fun?” Judging by the number of camping enthusiasts out there, I sincerely worry that there are large swaths of mankind who actually enjoy going days on end without showering, peeing and crapping in the woods, and getting dysentery from a half-raw, half-burnt dinner of moldering hot dog buns and roadkill. A love of camping suggests dark things, my friends, very dark things, indeed.

I think my view on camping may be tainted by the fact that I lost a good portion of both my soul and my sanity the first time I went and have yet to retrieve either. I also lost many of my toenails as well. Those, luckily, I got back, which I should be grateful for, I suppose. Still, it was an utterly traumatizing experience. One day, when I was eleven, my parents decided they wanted some quality time to themselves, so they sent their three pre-teen daughters off into the woods of New Hampshire, along with a pair of well-meaning but woefully unqualified camping guides, six other inner-city girls, and a Ziplock bag filled with trail mix. It was times like those when I questioned whether my parents really loved me. I think the entire trip lasted only a weekend, but I seem to remember slogging up the White Mountains for months, perhaps years, wondering if there was in fact a merciful God and what I had done to deserve such punishment at His hands. Really, there are only so many ice storms you can endure and only so many times you can sink in mud up to your waist before you start thinking maybe that eternal pact with Satan in exchange for a warm bed and a shower isn’t such a bad deal after all.

On Day 7,435 of our Journey Through Hell (or Day 2, I can’t really remember) I decided halfway through our afternoon death march that a change of socks was in order. My feet were soaked, either because of the previously mentioned Mud Pits of Doom or my blisters had finally broken and a lovely combination of blood and pus was now filling my boots. These boots were ever-so-slightly too small for me, which isn’t much of a problem if you’re a city girl and have no intention of hiking, but “ever-so-slightly too small” turns into “instruments of unmitigated torture” when you’re on a dirt trail twelve hours a day, trudging up a bloody goddamn mountain. (Did my parents love me? Seriously?) Anyway, as I slumped on a boulder, peeling off my filthy socks and wondering how this could possibly get any worse (WARNING WARNING WARNING IT GETS ALL KINDS OF ICKY AWFUL WORSE), four of my toenails responded by committing suicide and peeling off entirely from my foot and onto the sock!!!!! Holy Mother of GOD!!!!! I mean, honestly, what do you do with yourself when you’re eleven, your parents clearly hate you, your boots are too small, you’re covered in mud, your toenails have shuffled off their mortal coil, and you have seven hundred years left before you can go home again, take a bath, and change your underwear?!

So, yeah, thanks anyway, but I’ll take a pass on the camping if you don’t mind, freak. You go right ahead without me, though, and have yourself just a lovely time getting a rash, pneumonia, and Lyme Disease. Just make sure you take a shower or three before you come see me again, ok, buddy? Enjoy!

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