Real Camping Equals Braiding Lanyards

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Let me just say outright that it’s not that I have anything
against camping. It’s just that I prefer to experience wilderness
in a more controlled environment like, say, on television. And,
yes, because I’m admitting this you’re probably thinking that I’m
also a shallow and materialistic person who can’t survive without
electricity and hair appliances, who can’t pitch a tent or tie a
square knot, and who thinks

roughing it

involves waiting in line more than five minutes to buy a
latte.
Let me just say outright that it’s not that I have anything against camping. It’s just that I prefer to experience wilderness in a more controlled environment like, say, on television. And, yes, because I’m admitting this you’re probably thinking that I’m also a shallow and materialistic person who can’t survive without electricity and hair appliances, who can’t pitch a tent or tie a square knot, and who thinks “roughing it” involves waiting in line more than five minutes to buy a latte.

And, well, you’re right. But the real the truth of the matter is: Nature scares me.

I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because of all of the dirt and insects and wild animals. Or perhaps it’s because of the fact that I’m miles away from a discount shoe store. Whatever the reason, let’s face it: There’s just something wrong about living in a way that took human civilization thousands of years of evolution to overcome and then calling it a “vacation.”

That said, we all know there comes a time in every parent’s life when you must give up your hair supplies and espresso machine and face your fears for The Sake of the Children.

Which is one of the reasons that, not so long ago, we ended up camping.

The other reason was that the campgrounds had a pool, plenty of electrical outlets and a kitchen staff (A KITCHEN STAFF!) to cook all of our meals. So, really, you could look at it more like being on a cruise, except with a lot more bugs.

Now, you more rugged types out there might be thinking, “Whoa! Just hold on here! Eating catered food does not qualify as Real Camping.”

And in some circles that’s true. But let me say that in my world any place with mosquitoes and outside bathrooms, located at least 50 miles from a latte machine definitely qualifies as Real Camping.

Besides there were lanyards there. And we all know that lanyards are the official sign of Real Camping. For those of you who don’t know what they are, let me explain. Lanyards are made by braiding useless multi-colored plastic strings into, well, bigger useless multicolored plastic strings that you can attach to your key chain or pack or make a nice necklace out of or whatever.

It’s a tedious craft that falls somewhere between macrame and building skyscrapers with toothpicks. But the funny thing is, after about five or six seconds in nature, completely sane people will have the uncontrollable urge to make a lanyard.

Oh sure, you can try to fight it. But trust me, sooner or later, you’ll make one, just one, for yourself. Then two. Well, OK, three. It’s about now that you start thinking what nice Christmas presents they’d make for everyone on your list. And the next thing you know you’re sitting cross-legged around the campfire all Zen, cranking them out by the dozen.

Sure, maybe there are plenty of sane people out there who can be outdoors all day and night and not have an uncontrollable urge to make a lanyard.

But let me just say that the good thing about making lanyards is that it keeps you much too busy to notice things like bats and giant ants, not to mention the fact that the only bathroom with indoor plumbing is 15 miles away in the next state. Plus, you forget all about the lack of gourmet coffee and hair appliances.

Of course, the bad news is that I also missed the nature hike and the campfire sing-a-long.

But that’s OK. In the end we all came away with fond memories, a deeper respect for nature and some poison oak. And, oh yeah, enough lanyards to tie a bow around the state of New Jersey.

If that’s not Real Camping, I don’t know what is.

Debbie Farmer is a humorist and a mother holding down the fort in California, and the author of “Don’t Put Lipstick on the Cat.” You can reach her at [email protected]

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