Archive for Monday, July 12, 2010


One unhappy camper

July 12, 2010


Today might very well be my last column, and I want to take just a moment to thank you all for reading River City Jules these past eight months. But I am afraid our time together may be coming to an end, as this week I am doing a two-night stint at Cub Scout Camp that, based on my experience last summer, has the potential to land me either in an institution for overexposure to nature or in jail.

The first day of camp last summer had gone much better than expected. Yes, it was hot and humid, and I smelled like a locker room floor by sunset. And they only had eight toilets for 258 campers (97 percent of whom could use them standing up). But I had avoided touching poison ivy and getting in the pool and had few complaints overall.

Until "Taps."

Per camp rules, I securely Velcro’d the tent doors shut and turned off the flashlight. I kissed my son goodnight, laid my pillow upon the standard-issue steel cot and closed my eyes.

Unfortunately, a parent in another tent beat me to dreamland, snoring like an elephant.

“Kgn-kgn-kgn (pause) kgn-kgn-kgn (pause)” penetrated the tent walls, shaking the wood floor below and causing every hair on my fetal-positioned body to stand on end.

I began to cry. Memories of childhood camping trips flashed through my head, and I considered waking the camp leader to request a different tent. Preferably, the kind that rhymes with “SchMarriott.” But instead, I turned to my side to muffle the sound by sticking my pinkies in my ears so deep they nearly touched each other in the middle of my skull, I took back everything I had said about another mom and crowned this guy “Most Irritating” in the Cub Scout Camp Pageant going on in my head all weekend.

His “kgn-kgn-kgn (pause) kgn-kgn-kgn (pause)” broke my airtight seal.

I fumbled through my bag for a pair of moldable silicone ear plugs my husband had sent with me and shoved them in as far as they would go, cursing his name for having the audacity to sleep in our bed while I suffered in the woods.

That “kgn-kgn-kgn (pause) kgn-kgn-kgn (pause)” blasted through the earplugs.

I reached back into the bag and pulled out the rest of the silicone earplugs in the package, wrapping and molding them around each ear both inside and out. I may not be an Eagle Scout, but I’ve had two semesters of college physics, and I know how sound travels.

It was then, when I had completed forming my vibration-proof, sound-absorbing, Princess-Leia-like silicone earmuffs stuck to my head, that the steady stream of chainsaw buzzing ceased. My pulse slowed. My muscles relaxed. And I drifted off to sleep.

With any luck, this man has since invested in a battery-operated C-PAP, and I will be back next week, having been spared his gnarly, ear-stinging lullaby. Because this time, I’m bringing more than silicone earmuffs to silence him.


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