For background, see: The Joys of Tent Camping & Wenzelisms. (March 20)
Now. As I was saying, the first order of business upon arrival at any campground is attempting to erect said “weather armor polyester and mesh” colossus into a semi-habitable overnight abode. The second order of business is to avoid confusing “Wenzel” with “weasel.” Resist the temptation, no matter how great the epistemological urge.
Besides, as any self-respecting Real Camper knows, a “weasel” is a carnivorous mammal of the genus Mustela, having a long, slender boy, a long tail, and brownish fur that in many species turns white in the winter—or a sneaky, wily, crafty, clever, cunning, conniving, scheming or otherwise sly, handsome devil.
More on that later.
For now, all you need to know is what the good folks at Wenzel don’t tell you, namely that their magnum opus of tentdom is a cleverly camouflaged regurgitation of the infamous “rat in the maze” experiment in camping-induced psychoses (More on that later, too. You’ll just have to wait).
Specifically, setting up a three-room “family pentadome” is a test of just how long it’ll take two grown adults to morph into foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics. (Hint: Put your money on two minutes or divorce court. Whichever is closest.)
This occurs every summer when trying to assemble Gargantua at a campground full of fancy Windstars, Coachmen or Cruise Americas. You know the type: trailers and RVS outfitted with electric blankets, microwaves, fridges, stoves, and hot water.
Naturally, these lesser forms of camperhood mark all such users as camping wusses. Every stout-hearted, steely-eyed and lunacy-riven camper will tell you there’s one and only one Real way to camp: a tent! (more later, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.)
“Okay, I’m into this `au naturelle,’ Great Outdoors, Daniel Boone on Prozac stuff,” I sniff as S.B. and I struggle with Gargantua, “but I have my limits!” S.B. is busily retrofitting Gargantua with architectural feats that can cure anything and could give Frank Lloyd Wright cause for pause.
“Whaddya mean?” Snuggles quips, grappling with a delinquent tent stake and guy wires and bashing their brains in with a rubber mallet.
“Well, I left my microwave, electric blanket and hot curler at home, but I am NOT sleeping out under the stars!” I huff, quickly becoming one with nature and the mosquitoes.
“Sweetheart,” S.B. opines, slamming the stuffing out of yet another hapless tent stake, “we go camping to get away from all that.”
“How come?” I reply, wondering why anyone would want to spend a week away from the nearest Wal-Mart and hot water.
“To get back to nature and enjoy a wilderness adventure.” I flinch. It’s nearly dark and we’re still struggling with a Wenzel Starwood that is clearly cleverer than we are. I know when I’m in over my head.
“Sleeping out under the stars is all part of the adventure” S.B. quips. “A little wilderness is good for the soul.”
“Speak for yourself, bub” I mutter, looking around. Heaving, hauling, hositing and muttering under our breath, we manage to winch tent and rain fly into proper place while preserving the tender ears of our impressionable horde.
After this mammoth effort I step back, hands on hips, to proudly survey the fruits of our combined intelligence and exertions. The result of our behemoth effort: Gargantua is backwards. Not to worry. I’m sure Snuggle Bunny has a cure for this, too. Until I look around the campsite. “Hey, pal. Where’s your sleeping bag?”
“I sort of didn’t bring my sleeping bag.”
“How can you `sort of’ not bring a sleeping bag? What’re you planning to do, share mine?” A wicked grin curls his lips.
And they say weasels are sneaky.