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Effortlessly Average

Sort of half-heartedly leading the charge into mediocrity since, oh, let's say around 1987 or so.

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Location: Roaming (additional charges may apply), Argentina

Proof that with internet access and a powerful laxative, even insipid people will blog; the place where your excellence and my mediocrity collide; where my Karma whips ass on your dogma.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Stitch in Time...

... is funny as hell when you're not the one who has to pee.

-or-

Reason 2,162 for why I'm going to Hell

---------

I've moved around a lot in this country of ours, setting roots, of sorts, in Idaho, California, Nevada, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and most recently Texas. Most of this moving - almost all of it, as a matter of fact - has occurred after I passed the age of 30, or, as my daughter refers to it, "the age you should start preparing to die."

Having lived most of my life in Reno, Nevada (no, it's not close to Vegas) with my extended family, I had to promise on paper, in triplicate, that a couple times a year I'd return home for a visit.

To that end, every July 4th week, BuddhaWife and I would pack Shamu (our nickname for the Suburban) with all the camping gear, hitch the jetskis, and head for a week of rustic life in the woods outside Reno. Very quickly these visits turned into reunions, attracting nearly the entire family to the campground. For one week each summer we were one, big, happy family; living in harmony and peace, like Canada or the people who work at Saturn.

One year my younger brother Mike was part of the reunion group. This time, though, Mike was apparently in the mood for some power drinking. He started early and double fisted his way through the day. I don't know, maybe he owned stock in Budweiser and sought a revenue boost. At any rate, when he fell into the fire my older brother, Larry, and I decided Mike had had enough and it was time to put him to bed. We took the beer from his hand, spun him around a few times, handed him his Maglite, then pointed him in the general direction of his tent.

He serpentined his way off into the woods, I suppose to make it harder for any forest creature to get a clean shot. The rest of us sat naked around the sacrificial fire, drinking beer, smoking peyote, and banging drums while humming and ancient song. Well ok, that's not entirely accurate. They were more bongos than drums.

After a while Larry and I shared a look that said we knew Mike had started his way to his tent, but we never really heard him go inside. Granted, there's no real reason we should have heard him unzip the nylon door and go inside; it was just one of those intuitive things, like when you're sitting at work and you suddenly have the nagging feeling one of your naughty spawn just drank the last damned Dr. Pepper from the fridge.

Not long after he staggered off we did hear him crash into his ice chest, though, spilling its contents all over the forest floor, but aside from the cloud of obscenity that still hung in the air there was no evidence he'd made it any further. So we both grabbed flashlights and set off to ensure he had, in fact, made it to his tent before passing out. Or even most of the way to his tent would have been fine for me. I mean, what's the worst that could have happened? It's not like there were bears or any other dangerous animals in that campground. The worst think I could imagine happening to him involved squirrels searching for nuts. So it was win-win in my book.

Dang the woods were dark. As creatures of the burbs we're used to having at least some ambient light by which to make our way, but not here. No, here it was dark. Really dark. When we got there we unzipped the door to fine an open space inside. No Mike. Oh great.

We stood up and shined our flashlights around. No sign of him. To the side were the sad, scattered remains of what used to be his styro cooler that he'd purchased for $1.95 at Wal-Mart. I switched into Indian tracker mode, cuz, ya know, how hard could it be really? I started scanning the ground for footprints or broken blades of grass or bread crubs; empty beer bottles; something. But no sign. We listened hard for any sound... nope. No luck there either. Mike's tent was set up apart from the rest of ours, next to the creek (which was more of a small river than the image "creek" usually produces). Problem was, the flowing water was making so much noise we couldn't... wait. You don't suppose?...

Larry and I shared a long look, then crashed through the brush, arriving at the shore of the creek and peered across with our flashlights. Nothing obvious, but a pang of momentary fear hit us because this little river was pretty fast moving and the water is always very very cold and given how much Mike had been drinking there's little chance he'd have the clarity of mind to launch into survival mode if he'd fallen in.

I shined my light along the shore and sure enough, not five feet away from us was what looked like the frantic claw marks of someone trying to quickly pull his drunk ass out of the water.

"Mike! Mike! Where are you?!"

Not far from where we were standing there was a small knoll, covered with wild grass. As the beams from our flashlights illuminated that area we saw an arm pop up like a periscope from the two foot tall grass. "I'm over here." Actually is sounded more like "mumble mumble mver hrrrr mumble -hic-"

He was lying on his back with his pants and shorts around his ankles. And he was soaked to the bone.

Me: what the hell happened to you?

Mike: I was on my way to bed when I realized I had to pee, so I came to the river -

Me: Gross. I'm glad I wasn't downstream soaking my feet

Mike: - and while I was standing there I lost my balance.

Of course I'm speculating somewhat here, because what he actually said was "mmmmbrm rmbmm murmur pee mumble mumble shleee blnce mfmnrg wet."

Me: well, let's get you to bed.

Mike: mmmmkaaa hlpmeup.

Me: mmm no can do chief. I have this thing about touching naked men. (I pointed to his tent with my flashlight beam) You're bed's right over there.

He forced himself somewhat vertical and Larry and I tried to steady him without actually touching his nakedness.

After pouring him into his tent, we zipped it up and started walking away when it hit me.

"Hey Larry."

"What?"

"Let's sew the tent flaps shut!"

Two minutes later saw us rummaging through the camping supplies looking for the repair kit. Five minutes after that, the deed had been done. But rather than sew the actual fabric together, we simply looped the threads through the eyelets of the zippers to tie them together. We figured that way all someone would have to do was draw a blade between the zipper handles to cut the threads.

Oh, and anyone considering spending $100 on a flashlight should really consider those Maglites. After we'd sewed him into the tent I remembered that when he'd originally left the campfire we'd given him one, but he didn't have it on him when we found him exposing himself to mother nature. We went back to the creek and searched, but didn't find it. Then it hit me.

"Wait. Larry, turn off your light."

We both clicked off our Maglites and it suddenly became visisble. In the sudden pitch blackness, we could now see the faint, yellow glow of his flashlight emanating from the smack dab middle of the fast moving vein of ice water making its way out of the mountains and it couldn't have been thawed more than a day before flowing past the spot where we now stood.

Once we stopped laughing our asses off, we decided that the nice thing to do would be to wait till morning and tell Mike where it was so he could go get it himself. For the rest of the night, everyone at the campsite would venture out to the stream every so often to see the glowing water. Sometime around 2am, the batteries died and the stream was dark water again.

Some time later we were again sitting around the fire when suddenly we hear a distant, muffled yell:

"Hey! Hey, I can't get out!!! Someone let me oooouuuuutt! I have to peeeeeee!!! Hello??!!! Someone!!! Help!!!"


Then:

"Kelly I'm going to kick your ass when I get out of here!!!!"

Needless to say I wasn't so concerned at that point with going to help him. I figured that was too much like being told to cut your own switch. Besides, after a minute or two, he got quiet again and, hey, it wasn't my tent he was borrowing. Actually, now that I think about it, I think it was our mother's tent.

The next morning I awoke to a typical northern Nevada summer morning: cool, fresh, and beautiful. Time for coffe or a Dr. Pepper. As I stepped outside I found Mike walking through the campsite dressed like he was about to go diving for oysters; flippers, mask, and snorkel. He found out, as we all did that morning, that in addition to being fast moving and bitingly cold, that stream is also deep! I stood there watching him struggle to time his dive such that he could ge to the bottom just as the current pulled him over the spot where we'd told him his Maglite should be. Then I decided I should probably do something to help. So I went to get a lawnchair and a drink so I could sit on the shore and laugh my ass off while telling him "ooooo! that time you were this close to getting it!"

----

Epilogue: I had such fun with the flashlight rescue operation that I'd completely forgotten to ask Mike how he got out of his tent that morning. Larry told me he was able to find his pocket knife once it was daylight and cut his own way to freedom. Upon asking how Mike was able to get out to pee (I was afraid he'd decided to just pee inside the tent. After all, it wasn't his tent he was borrowing either), Larry said:

"He didn't! He said he could only get the zippers far enough apart to stick the end out and pee out the hole!"

Much more laughter all around.

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