If a man is attacked by his tent in the forest, should he make a sound?
By Ned Hickson/Ned’s Blog/Siuslaw News
Traditionally, this takes place during the busy Memorial Day Weekend so that as many people as possible can witness a 46-year-old man being attacked by his own tent.
In my defense, I have to say our tent is very large; especially when it is laying flat on the ground.
If I hadn’t lost the step-by-step instructions that came with it, I’m sure the assembly process would be a lot easier because, as a man, I could use them to, step-by-step, blame everything on having lousy instructions.
What this means is that over the Memorial Day Weekend my handiwork will again be mistaken for a hot air balloon that has crash-landed into our family’s camp site.
I bought this tent 25 years ago while living in Texas. As you know, everything is bigger there — including tents — which is why I tried to find the smallest model available. This turned out to be a tent called Quick Camp, which was a handy, two-compartment structure roughly the size of a jet hanger. Despite its size, the salesman assured me that the assembly process was very simple. He said that the entire thing could be erected in less than 20 minutes with a little planning.
And he was right.
As long as our plan included staying out of the tent.
For some reason, it collapses on me every time I go inside. I’m not talking about an inconvenient buckling of the walls; this is more like an instantaneous implosion of water-resistant nylon that required the assistance of a search and rescue team:
“Listen up! Team ‘A’ will start at the west quadrant near the mosquito netting. Team ‘B’ will take the dogs and follow the perimeter until we can —”
“Quick — over HERE! I think someone’s moving under this giant door flap!”
In spite of these experiences, I still feel it’s important for our family to go camping together. That’s because, as a parent, I know our kids really hate it. I mean, sure — it’s pretty exciting while Dad is flopping around under 200 yards of nylon. But once that’s over, and I’ve decided that we’re all going to sleep out under the stars LIKE REAL PIONEERS! they begin to realize that everything they know about civilization has been left behind.
And by “everything,” I mean cell phones and tablets.
In the primitive world of camping there is no Gossip Girl. No American Idol.
There is only dirt.
And if they’re lucky, enough fire to cook a marshmallow.
Eventually, as the shock of not having their devices wears off, children enter what I feel is the most important phase of their camping experience: Realizing that we, the parents, are the key to their survival.
This epiphany starts the moment I pull out the old camp stove, give it a few pumps, then light the picnic table on fire. In that instant, the only thing that matters is reaching out together as a family and finding the nearest fire extinguisher.
So, during Memorial Day Weekend, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by our tent.
The rescue team could probably use your help.
(You can write to Ned at email@example.com, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore., 97439.)
About Ned Hickson:
Ned Hickson is an editor and humor columnist for the Siuslaw News, a small Oregon newspaper where the motto is:
Your dependable source for local news. Twice weekly. Unless we lose count.
Want more Ned? You know you want more Ned! Catch him before his book comes out and he’s too big for his britches! 😉 Join me in obsessing over his blog for awhile: Ned Hickson
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