It may surprise you to hear this, but I’ve never gone camping, never felt the urge to leave the comforts of my home to spend a few days in a tent somewhere. Don’t get me wrong: I like being close to nature. I just don’t like nature getting too close to me.
You never know what you might encounter in nature: mosquitoes, bees, wasps, Al Gore.
Actually, I’d be quite pleased to run into the former vice-president in the woods, especially since the mosquitoes would have another place to land.
Mosquitoes can be a pain in the neck, not to mention the arms, legs and other body parts. Bees, wasps, flies and ants can also be annoying. I don’t need insects to bug me. I have three children. And if there’s anything worse than dealing with insects, it’s dealing with children dealing with insects.
My daughter Divya is the worst. She has singlehandedly destroyed any progress made over the last century in human-insect relations. A single fly can produce a high-pitched scream from her, almost as if someone changed the channel in the middle of “Dora.”
My wife, Malathi, doesn’t like flies either. Then again, she has never been too fond of uninvited guests who head straight for her food. Especially when they don’t have the decency to wash up.
If I were a hardcore camper, I wouldn’t complain about the insects. I’d just catch them and have them for dinner. You can’t be picky about what you eat when you’re a real camper. Real campers realize that it’s better to eat an insect than have an insect eat you.
Not that I know anything about eating insects. I’ve just read the book “Camping for Idiots,” which includes this important tip: In order to get your recommended daily allowance of protein while camping, you must get used to the idea of sleeping with your mouth open.
The closest I’ve come to camping was staying in a cabin near a Minnesota lake. I spent a few days there with my wife and kids and a dozen flies. We just opened the door and they flew right in, as though they had rented the place themselves and were waiting outside for someone to let them in.
Fly: “It’s about time they opened the door! We spent half our lives waiting.”
Second fly: “I’m hungry! Does anyone know where they keep the trash can?”
We were staying in a cabin, but in some ways, we were really roughing it. We had to endure some extreme conditions. For example, our cable had only 40 channels. And we didn’t have a DVD player. Talk about a primitive existence!
The cabin did have an oven and microwave, but to get the camping experience, we didn’t do all our cooking there. Malathi started a fire outside, and I wore a loincloth and headed to the woods to hunt for boar.
Actually, we picked up some meat and veggies at a nearby grocery store. Malathi cut them in pieces, put them on skewers, and roasted them in the fire. For at least an hour, we felt like real campers.
Then we went inside and ordered pizza.
Photo by Lucas Janin