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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Notes on camp

In the midst of a heatwave that is even making my balding patch frizzy, I've been seeing camper vans all over town. That and a severe case of writer's block have led me to post an old piece I had published in Nougat Magazine. Why? Because even when it isn't ten degrees hotter than hell outside, those people are f'in insane! Thus, I give you...

Camping: Imitation of Past Life

Party planning is an activity that requires the planning and precision one would expect to find few places outside of strategic military strikes, and in this activity, I am a general. Thus, I recently found myself playing e-mail tag with various and sundry friends, attempting to pin down a date for the first big barbeque in my new rental house.

The preferred date was ruled out due to my friend Dirty Debbey’s annual camping trip. Each August, she rounds up a large group of folks who are more than willing to leave behind their air conditioners in favor of bunking down with mosquitoes in the “Great Outdoors”. Each July, she invites me on this trip, and each July I give the same answer: I would rather listen to Yoko Ono sing, accompanied by a rake being dragged across a chalkboard while being served broken glass hors d’oerves.

The fact is, I have tried camping. I tried it against my will as a child, and I can safely say that as a hobby, it ranks somewhere up there with an invigorating series of rabies vaccinations.

I sincerely wish that someone would explain to me the appeal of camping. Why would I voluntarily put myself in the situation of a homeless person and call it a hobby? This is supposed to be fun?

The line about how great it is to get back to a simpler way of life, or “back to nature,” is particularly good. As if there is something so great about nature. I mean, I’m an environmentalist. I recycle. If some corporation wants to build condos in a swamp, I’ll write a letter to my congressman. Just don’t ask me to go sit in that swamp for fun, and call it getting back to nature.

It could be argued that the entire point of the industrial revolution was to keep us as far from nature as is humanly possible. If getting back to nature is so great, then why did God give us central air, whirlpool bathtubs, and Internet porn? You just know these jackasses who think it is such a good idea to have a weekend free of technology are most certainly the same people who call their cable company the following Monday and scream at a person making $9 an hour because the channel showing reruns of "The Match Game" is snowy.

It seems to me that camping as a desirable activity is largely limited to heterosexuals and lesbians. Not to stereotype, but I don't know a great many gay men who participate in such foolishness. I'm not saying that we're smarter than everyone else, but I can't think of many gay men who pine away for the time before indoor plumbing. Does a queen shit in the woods? I think not.

Debra, god bless her, does not give in easily. For the past three years, she has cajoled me with the sort of reasoning that if acted upon, is most always something I live to regret. Her usual line, “But you haven’t been with us. How can you not like something you haven’t tried? It’s fun!” is the same sort of excuse my mother used to get me to try out for junior high basketball. It is also the same sort of thing that will ultimately someday result in my mother being put in a nursing home not unlike the institution in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

My favorite campers are the ones who put a house on wheels, one that gets about the same gas mileage as the space shuttle, and drive to some “campground” to spend a few days of valuable vacation time living in what could only be known as the outdoors if you’ve spent your entire life inside a big plastic bubble.

These are the same people who, when faced with the argument that my idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel without an indoor pool, say that they have all the conveniences of home with them. I don’t know, maybe it is just me, but I can’t remember the last time I had the urge to pack up everything in my house, move it a couple of hundred miles away, set it all up, then move it back a couple of days later.

I’ve got news for these folks. They aren’t camping; they’ve just temporarily relocated to a trailer park. You’d have thought the unreliable utilities and plywood lawn sculpture of an old woman bending over would have tipped them off to that great mystery.

Camping is quite possibly the world’s most stupid hobby. After all, I pay rent on a house I like very much, even if it is small and modest. If I’m going on vacation, I’d like to stay somewhere nicer than my house. And while I’m not sure what the real homes of most of these campers look like, I sincerely hope they are nicer than a moldy nylon sack in the dirt.


JonboySF said...

Here, here brother! This queen for one, doesn't plan to start shitting in the woods at any point during this lifetime! To me, "roughing it" means staying on my friend's fold out in Chelsea...

Ms. Val said...

Christopher, that was a fun read! I had to read parts of it out loud to Q--especially the part about people bitching to the cable company rep. about "Match Game" being fuzzy.

Jim said...

Christopher - I'm reading your blog from Ed's flat in London, and had to respond. The first part of my week was actually spent at a gay campground, so I can attest to the fact that there are in fact gay men who are into camping - in a big way. This past weekend saw this particular campground hosting a gay wrestling weekend, a gay nudist weekend, a gay antique carshow, and a gay "village people" weekend -- hard to believe, yet I witnessed it all. Camping with gay men can be a fun - or at least interesting - experience. Having said that, getting to London and having a nice clean place to poop and shower has been wonderful.

Christopher said...

Jim, you know good and well that none of those fags would be out there were it not for the opportunity to see one another's meat and two veg!