Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Roughing It

(Although I am still responsible for dishes, laundry, a little bit of cooking and three consistently hungry things called children, I am on vacation this week. So today's post is courtesy of my husband, Doug Adkins, aka Married to The Mean Mom.)

As a theoretical concept, camping seems like something my kids would love. It involves s'mores, fire, flashlights, tents, sleeping bags, air mattresses, those strange dots of light in the sky that are otherwise known as stars, and whispering late into the night until dad gets really mad. So I have, on occasion, actually considered throwing a tent and some Dinty Moore Stew in the car and driving to a place so remote that their iPhones don't even work. Well, they work but you can't download any apps, so, yeah, we're talking totally cut off from civilization.

I have no doubt that my kids would have a blast. For the first twenty minutes. And then one of them will need to go to the bathroom and all holy freaking hell will break loose.

Ah, latrine. Such a beautiful, lyrical word, like the title of a French poem. A poem about a shallow hole filled with rotting shit. How would I even begin to explain this to my children? Okay, see, you have to sit there in the woods, your ass playing the part of the white whale, the mosquitos playing the part of a billion little Captain Ahabs, and try to take care of business as quickly as possible even while the stress of the situation makes your sphincter retract up into your colon. Oh, and make sure you take a peek into the hole of rotting shit before you sit down because sometimes a raccoon will climb in for a little snack. Have fun!

(Fascinating thought that just occurred to me: Think about what it must be like for a mosquito in the middle of nowhere to suddenly stumble upon a bare human buttocks. They've spent their entire lives trying in vain to find one small vulnerable spot on grizzly bears and porcupines and armadillos and suddenly the sky is filled with ass mana from heaven. It would be like an Ethiopian child stumbling upon a Monster Thickburger from Hardees.)

But the moving of bowels would only be the beginning of our troubles.

In 2008 professional magician/weirdo David Blaine held his breath for a world record 17 minutes and 4 seconds. To prepare for this he went through six months of intensive training, depriving his body of oxygen for long periods every day. My children would have to undergo similar preparation in order to survive for several days without video games. And the shock to their systems still might kill them. Then there's the bug problem which I've already touched on but I should also mention the bugs and also the bugs, because the bugs are going to be an issue. As will things like water falling from the sky, temperatures that deviate from 72 degrees and the fact that laundry baskets do not often occur naturally in the wild -- without them, my kids might stand for hours with dirty clothes in hand, uncertain how to proceed.

Or I could be completely misjudging them. Maybe we could drop our children into the Amazon jungle with nothing but a Bowie knife and we'd find them weeks later singing "The Bare Necessities" with all the animals.

To test this theory, we decided to take a half-step -- okay, a 1/200th step -- by staying in a hotel that wasn't quite up to the kids' usual standards.

What followed was not encouraging:

According to my children, the arrangements were squalid: There were but two bedrooms and four beds and yet there were five of us, thus creating an unsolvable mathematical conundrum. The bathroom floors were cold and no amount of switch throwing would cause them to heat up. The mini-fridge was at least four degrees too warm and, while there was ice in it, the cubes were locked into some confounding metal tray contraption. There were two objects which might be televisions except that they were oddly rotund and had fewer than 50 channels, two of which were in Spanish. The key to the room was not in the form of a plastic card -- it was in the form of a key. The "paintings" on the walls were prints, not originals, and what was with that matting, anyway? The pillows were all mint-less. And the room was infested. With a small spider. Outside a window.

I sat on a sofa that Charlie would later swear folded out into a medieval torture device, listening to my children complain about the conditions, wondering how they had become as spoiled as a glass of milk left in a sauna for a week. My first thought was that it was probably Jody's fault, and my second thought was: Speaking of a sauna, why isn't the spa open 24 hours? What kind of Turkish prison have we checked ourselves into?

Admittedly, I may have had a hand in the curdling of the dairy products.

I wasn't always so Real Housewives of Orange County-ish. Growing up my family didn't stay at hotels that featured extravagances like indoor plumbing. That's because we sojourned in these things called tents and ate food burned briefly in a fire. And it was awesome. But then I grew up -- okay, became older -- and began to wonder what it would be like to, say, bathe oneself in leech-free water. At some point it occurred to me that I now had a choice as to where I vacationed. So I asked myself some tough questions, such as: Do I want to continue to wipe my ass with leaves that inevitably turn out to be poison ivy or do I want to stand rapturously over a bidet? After much soul searching, my asshole and I decided that we had indeed had quite enough of roughing it.

Now all my vacations involve bathrooms with multiple shower heads and bars that you can swim up to. I'm like that Amish kid that we all knew growing up that was never allowed to touch a drop of alcohol and then went away to college and discovered the joys of waking up somewhere in Nebraska in the back of some stranger's pickup truck, covered in vomit, some of it his own. I too was denied alcohol for far too long, except my alcohol is turndown service and bathroom telephones and slippers on demand. And alcohol. In a chilled glass.


sylvia said...

great job Doug - we as grandparents of your kids, have been wise enough to figure this out on our own. That is why we do not request the kids along on our few camper outings - however, a little nature might not be leathal to them. S

Kari said...

I am impressed. Not only that you were (as a husband) able to write more than half a sentence before giving up, as my dear husband would.....
But I am impressed that you have admitted to raising the next generation of pain-in-the-asses, much like we are in our home.

Instead of giggling over the absurdity, I found myself relating to every word.