It was just the four of us. Four men. Mike “Tough Guy” Pust, Andrae “Refrigerator” Bibbs, Eric D. “The Guy Who Uses His Middle Initial” Snider, and Craig “Duke” Duke. We were all at Joshua Tree National Monument, located somewhere near the middle of nowhere, to engage in forty-eight hours of male bonding. We felt that as men, we would greatly benefit from leaving our respective women and going out to the desert to get in touch (not literally) with our manhood, as well as to live like scum for a couple days.
The main problem here was that Mike, Andrae, and I, collectively, possess about as much camping expertise as your average tree sloth. Andrae, for instance, forgot to bring — and I think we’ve all done something like this before — any clothes. He did, however, bring pajamas. Mike brought clothes, but he took them out of the dryer when they were not, technically, dry. This meant that he had to spread them out all over Duke’s pickup truck when we got there, hoping they would dry overnight, presumably under the heat of the hot, blazing moon. For the next 12 hours, we were subjected to constant Underwear Updates, wherein Mike would report to us on the current status of his drawers. (“Still damp and slightly wrinkled, with a chance of being dry and straightened by noon.”)
I brought dry clothes, but I neglected to package the food in my ice chest very well, so when the ice began to melt, it got the food wet. Mike and Andrae did not even bring ice chests, but instead crammed all their food into mine, which I am sure they were sorry for when they went to get out their lunch meat, only to find that it was even wetter than Mike’s underwear.
When we returned from rock climbing the first day, we found that Mike had left the ice chest open, thus providing a squirrel with a feast of wet hot dog buns. Thereafter, Mike was referred to as “Butthead.” That nickname, if I have anything to do with it, will go on his tombstone.
Duke, on the other hand, appears to be an expert camper. He never had any trouble with anything. We would wake up in the morning to find him puttering around the campsite, cleaning up after himself and preparing for the day’s activities. As far as we know, he never even went to sleep, at least not that we ever saw. When he saw we had woken up, he would offer a cheerful morning greeting and comment on what a beautiful day it was going to be. We would respond by grunting and attempting to determine what uncomfortable object it was that we had chosen to lay our sleeping bags on the night before that was now making us feel incredibly sore (the answers — me: my wallet; Mike: his shoes; Andrae: Mike).
By the end of the excursion, everyone except Duke looked and felt like garbage. We hadn’t shaved, showered, or washed our hair in three days, and we all smelled like… oh, I don’t know… something that smells real bad. Make up your own simile. I need to go see if my lunch is dry yet.
A nice breezy little column, with some fun jokes. I've never been much of a camper, and for many years I thought I just hated camping. But then I realized that I love campfires, and I enjoy sleeping in a sleeping bag outdoors. I discovered that what I actually hate is dirt. Camping is such a dirty thing, and it drives me crazy. If I could sleep someplace not dirty -- like on the beach, because sand is quite a different thing from dirt -- it would be OK.
The next column deals with more events that took place on this camping trip.