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I love to camp. I love the outdoors, trees, and nature. And I love fires, but not in a pyromaniac kind of way, just the normal acceptable amount. Where I’m from we have deer and racoon that live in the woods. That’s what I’m used to.
So last summer, my brother-in-law invited us to go to a campground with him and his kids up in Michigan. Michigan has black bears. I love black bears…as in lodge decor, not the actual living thing.
The first night we camped, I crawled under the covers of our air mattress and tried to soak up as much body heat from my husband as possible. Sometime after I fell asleep, I awoke to the sound of sirens. Like, war is coming…seek shelter, kind of sirens. It was an eerie sound and I wasn’t sure what it was all about.
Right before I drifted back to sleep, I heard it. Just outside of our tent, a deep exhale. I sat up, still a little creeped out about the sirens of hell, and listened. Again, an exhale…just like on National Geographic when you see a bear in the wild.
My adrenaline started pumping as I shook my husband awake. Probably that had been what the sirens were about. Maybe it was a warning that a bear was in the area.
My husband heard it too. I couldn’t remember what you’re supposed to do when you encounter a bear. One species you play dead, the other you make loud noises and I wasn’t sure which was which. The loud grunting was just on the other side of our nylon tent, and I could visualize the bear tearing through the fabric and feasting on my family. Not me, because I would run…but everyone else was going to be toast…I just knew it.
In a panic and barely able to breathe, I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes, and I thought I might throw up. I looked at the kids, sleeping peacefully through this living nightmare, and wondered if I could get them into the car parked outside without setting the bear into attack mode.
I pretty much wrapped myself around my husband and whispered something like “What the f*** are we going to do? There’s a bear out there!”
He shook his head “no” and held his finger up to shush me while he listened to the grunting and breathing outside of the tent. “That’s not a bear.” He whispered and proceeded to explain why it couldn’t be a bear. It was a logical explanation, but in my irrational state all I could think was “Whatever, your brother brought us here to die, and this is the worst trip ever.”
My husband guessed maybe it was some kind of dying raccoon or something. He went to unzip the window and I smacked his arm. I was all “What are you doing, trying to get us all killed?” He wanted to see what it was.
I’ve never truly feared for my life or felt the kind of intense panic that I felt as my husband peeked out the tent window. My spit was so thick I couldn’t swallow, my ears were ringing, my limbs went numb and my heart was beating so hard I could see it thumping against my bones. I thought about all the things I still needed to accomplish in my life…which is pretty much everything as so far I’ve accomplished nothing.
My husband turned to me, having figured out what kind of creature was outside of our tent, grunting and growling. Apparently, the man in the tent next to us had sleep apnea.
Yeah, I’m not really sure why people say I’m over-dramatic.
My husband’s a techie kind of guy, he loves electronic gadgets and devices that are fresh on the market. Anytime an Apple anything comes out, his pupils dilate and a line of drool drips from the corner of his mouth. It’s like watching National Geographic, a “tech in the wild” hunting his next catch. He can fix anything, which is great because I can break anything. Balance…it’s what makes our marriage work.
I don’t mind most of the technology he brings into our lives. As a general rule I just don’t touch anything that flashes, or anything with buttons. But sometimes when I just look at something electronic it malfunctions. It’s like I have superpowers or something.
Enter the motion sensored light switch in the bathroom. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and likely safe as I didn’t have to touch it…hence the “motion sensored” in its title. I don’t even know what happened. I stood too close to it or something and the button popped right off and landed next to the sink.
I picked it up, which was stupid because I know better. I took a look at how this piece of plastic might function, and it seemed simple enough, so…you know…I fixed it! Haha, suck it Tech Boy…look who else knows how to fix stuff around here now…
The next time I walked into the bathroom, the light switched on and I felt like a self-sufficient genius. I sat down to …well, to pee…and the freaking light turned off. I sat in total darkness for a second, and then it switched back on. Oh thank God. Then off…then on again, then off and on. It was like a strobe light. What the hell? Am I in a bathroom or at a damn rave?
So I sat real still, careful not to even breathe, and the light switched off. Dammit! I waited for it to switch back on, but it just stayed dark. Terror set in, as I was sure Bloody Mary was going to jump out of the mirror at any minute and I tried desperately to think of anything but her name.
I couldn’t work under that kind of pressure, but I also couldn’t get over to the light switch to operate it manually. I mean, physically I could, but the switch was right next to the mirror with a demon in it. See the logic?
Just before I was going to scream, the light randomly switched back on. As I finished up and buttoned my pants the damn thing switched off yet again.
“Oh come on you son-of-a-bitch!” I yelled across the dark room. “Mother f***ing Satan switch from hell…”
Bloody Mary. The words snuck into my head.
“Shit!” I said, frozen in place.
Bloody Mary. Dammit! It happened again. Crap…that’s twice. Once more and I’m f***ed.
Then I thought “Speaking of ‘Bloody Mary’ I could really use a drink.”
Wait…what?! I was talking about the drink, does that still count?!
I waited for the mirror demon to take me to hell, but instead the light clicked back on. So I bolted out the door. The little guy was standing in the hallway and pointed out that I “left the light on.”
Trying to appear “normal” or whatever, I stood outside the bathroom and slid my hand around the wall to push the switch off. And wouldn’t you know it, no matter how many times I clicked that damn button, the light wouldn’t turn off.
Stupid demonic light switch from hell…
Ahh, life in “The Crick.” It’s not a fancy neighborhood, but it’s nice enough, and safe. I like it here, because if I don’t feel like landscaping the front yard for thirteen years nobody cares. They like me anyway. Here in The Crick it’s live and let live.
Life in The Crick is good. You can ask the neighbors if they have a slice of bread because “the plumbers need it to weld something” and nobody blinks an eye at the absurdity of it. They just hand over their last loaf of bread and tell you to take what you need.
If you don’t have time to mow your yard…then don’t. No one will be out there with a measuring tape scolding you if your grass is a bit overgrown. We’ve got bigger problems, like the crazy old man that lives in the driveway, in the bed of his pickup truck under a tarp.
If you want to put up a ten foot fence, then you go right ahead. Sure it’s gaudy, and all of us are laughing at you when it blows over in the first windstorm, but nobody will hate on you for it. We’ll make a toast to your stupidity and move on with our lives. We’re more concerned about the inbreeders down the way and the one guy’s unusual relationship with his cat.
If your dogs bark, non-stop, all day…don’t even worry about it. We can’t tell which of the million barking dogs is actually yours anyway. We’re more interested in So-And-So’s crazy friend lying in the middle of the road. We’re trying to figure out if he’s high, or suicidal…we really can’t tell.
If it makes you happy to leave the Christmas lights up all year ’round, nobody gives a real shit. Congratulations, your house is the most festive house in the neighborhood. Good on you! We’re not talking about you anyway…we’re too busy discussing the little boy down the road, who’s friendly neighborhood greeting is a tiny middle finger held high in the air. Cute kid…
I’m pretty sure someone around here has a goat. We don’t care. We’re just over here wondering if we can get goat’s milk at a discount. I don’t have time to worry about it, I’m too busy yelling “Thank you” across the way to the neighbor who was thoughtful enough to make me a daiquiri and send it over. Life is good.
So here’s to life in The Crick. The only subdivision I’d ever fit in with. Where the crazies hide on the rooftop from the police, and the word “f**k” isn’t offensive. The smell of steaks on the grill and pot in the air permeate every corner of the neighborhood. We invite ourselves over to that one house on the block where all the neighbors seem to end up congregating. We drink and we laugh…well mostly I drink and we laugh…we bitch and we moan. I’ll miss it when it’s time to go.
Mom: So what’s new?
Me: Not much. Oh! I entered my short story in another contest, so wish me luck!
Mom: That’s exciting! Good luck!
Me: If I happen to win first place I’d have enough money to publish my novel!
Mom: (smiles and nods)
Me: OR…buy a LOT of booze. I haven’t decided yet.
Mom: (blank stare)
Either A. She didn’t think I was funny, or B. She was planning an intervention.
I’m not sure…
No, but I danced with Old Man *Billy, and that was pretty much the same thing.
I’m not a dancer by nature. I mean I can dance, but I don’t, because it scares the animals and I usually just end up looking like this…
So I’m in a karaoke bar, sitting with my friend Colette while our other friends were out on the dance floor swaying to the slow music.
Billy was an older guy sitting across the room with his buddies, and he’d developed a crush on one of the girls in our group, who by the way, had the patience of a Buddha. When the slow song came on Billy ran frantically to ask her to dance, but it was too late as she was already dancing with the guy she was there with.
I looked up in time to see his sad, wrinkled face fall with disappointment. He hung his head and went back to his table.
A moment later he approached me and Colette and asked if either of us would like to dance. I froze like a bimbo in a horror movie. Colette was the first one to shake her head no, and if I remember correctly…pointed in my direction. He looked at me, with hopeful bloodshot eyes, and I didn’t have the heart to send him back to his friends having struck out three times.
So I smiled and took his outstretched hand. He held me appropriately with minimal body contact, the way a father would, and we swayed to the music. As we spun, Colette came into view and I glared at her, trying to push her off her chair with the power of my mind. It didn’t work, in case you’re wondering.
“I’m Billy.” He says.
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry about the cigarette.”
Wait, what? He had a lit cigarette in the hand at the small of my back. I panicked as I realized this had turned into a freaking hostage situation. This is how I was going to die, I just knew it.
“I’m drunk.” He interrupted, his breath smelled like alcohol.
Lucky for me the song ended quickly. I took my hand back and he said “Thanks for the dance.”
Only when he said it, he spit all over my face Daffy Duck style. A few drops even got on my lips.
I stood still with a smile frozen in place, trying not to have a panic attack. My heart was palpitating, my chest tightened to the point I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t want to move my lips in case I would accidentally smear it in. I sat down and felt the spit drying on my face…I could actually feel the hepatitis setting in.
My irrational fear of germs kicked into high gear, so I ran to the bathroom. I went to the sink, emptied the entire bottle of soap into my hands and washed the shit out of my face and lips. I thought about gargling with the soap, but then figured that might be a little extreme, and I’m not one to take things to an extreme. Hahaha…haha…ha…Ahem.
I was looking in the mirror at my beard of bubbles, plotting revenge on Colette and her pointy finger, when I rinsed and realized I had no way to dry my face aside from the blow dryer stuck to the wall.
I cupped my hands to direct the air up to my face and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My hair was blowing back like those rock stars on the TV. So I started whipping my head around like some kind of head banger, and got busted by a poor girl who just wanted to pee. I’m pretty sure she thought I was having a seizure, I don’t know…she looked scared.
As it turns out, bars aren’t really my thing. Also, I have got to learn to be more assertive. “No.” Lisa. It’s not that hard. Next time, just freaking say “No.”
Thanks for stopping in to read my rant!
*Name has been changed.