There. I said it.
In my world, I am way in the minority on this. My husband, Kevin, loves to camp. Good friends of ours like to camp. Inexplicably, my children love to camp. And I can't begin to understand.
Anytime we've camped, we've set up our tent within about 15 minutes of home. That makes no sense to me: We have a house. The house has toilets and beds. Why in the world would I choose to sleep on the ground and trudge several hundred feet to use the bathroom, then spend the whole next day feeling unwashed and cranky?
I get the whole "Kumbaya"-'round-the-campfire thing, and yes, a hot dog and a beer taste pretty good when they're consumed in the great outdoors. But, really, we have a fire pit in our backyard. We have a grill, and we have a deck. Problem solved.
When I was little, I was a bit more agreeable to spending time outside. We were a boating family, and one obviously can't boat in the house. But here's the thing: When you're boating, you're doing something. You're going somewhere. You can drop anchor and swim. You can ski. When you're camping, you're -- what? Sitting in a chair? I can do that inside. In fact: See?! I'm doing it now!
My grandma had the right idea when it came to being a nature girl. She and my grandpa had a place at Clear Lake near ours, and for a couple of years, the whole extended family would go boating together. We'd be at Farmer's Beach, setting up lunch with our cooler of bologna sandwiches, and Grandma and Grandpa would pull up alongside in their cabin cruiser.
There'd be Grandma, waving from the boat, her hair tied down with a scarf that had little anchors all over it and an apron over her slacks. "Kids," she'd call. "Wouldn't you rather have something hot to eat?" And we'd scramble over the side of our boat and climb in theirs, dripping lake water down the tiny staircase and sitting down at a tiny table to beans and wienies, Pepsi, and dessert. The fan would be blowing in the direction of the tiny stove, and Grandma wouldn't have broken a sweat.
When I became a teenager, I loved to, as we called it back in the day, "lay out." And that, of course, took place outdoors as well. But like boating, it involved a goal: A few hours on an inflatable raft in the pool meant I'd "get a little color" and look cuter in whatever I was wearing on my date that night.
But if I'm peer-pressured into camping, here's what happens: There's no looking cute, period. I don't sleep well. Sometimes things bite me, and I wake up with some gross kind of lesion or welt or rash. Often, it rains, and historically, our tents have not been quite waterproof enough. Once, I woke up to my cell phone floating next to my head.
I don't like to cook anyway, so cooking over an open fire holds no extra allure. I don't like my feet to feel dirty. I have a fake knee, and the tissue around it swells more in humidity. The other knee is soon to become fake and it hurts all the time, so rough terrain is a bad idea for the next several weeks.
I went camping quite a few times when Kevin and I were dating and newly married. And although I enjoyed the company a lot, I would have enjoyed it more had we stayed somewhere with a floor and a roof. But you know how it is when you're first with somebody; you're always willing to try new things because you simply want to be with that person. Skydiving? Sure, I'm game. Cleaning out the garage? Nothing could be more fun.
But time passes, and we all know what happens. To look at it in a positive way: As you grow older and the realization hits you that life is too short, you become less willing to spend much of that precious time doing things you really don't like.
Also, at this stage in my life, I'm working pretty hard most days. And when a long weekend comes, the last thing I want to do is spend my time in a way that will make me feel like I haven't had a weekend at all.
And on and on. My family makes fun of me, but they know the truth: I'm an indoor girl, and when it comes to camping, everyone has more fun without me. And you know what? That's so, so OK.
There's an old saying: "If Mama ain't happy, nobody's happy." When dirt, bugs and porta-potties are involved, multiply the potential for Mama's unhappiness by about 4,000.
Kevin is going to try to camp with some friends this weekend if the weather clears. He won't care about packing shampoo and towels and bug repellent and disinfectant wipes; he'll get up, throw on some shorts, grab the cooler and go.
Me? I'll be the one waving from the clean kitchen, with a bathroom a few feet away and a soft bed upstairs.