Modern Man: Jews Don’t Camp
When the idea occurred to us to go camping–to pack up our three kids, all under 5, and one under 5 months–not only the Jews thought we were nuts. But it was the Jews who were bewildered. Since the big camping trip–you know, with Moses and Tzippy and, if you’re a Jew, as legend goes, you too–Jews have supposedly been turned off to the whole tent-under-the-stars thing. Except for, maybe, the Israelis. They’re hardy folk. In any case, we were determined. We even invited The Molahses: Mushroomhead, Fennel, and their kids, Carrot and Zucchini, another (sort-of/part-)Jewish family, to join us (Mushroomhead is a “California Jew”; moreover, the Molahses are Northern Californian twig-eating organic vegan hippies–how unJewish is that?? Although I have, in truth, seen a very lovely Magen David atop their Christmas tree . . . But alas, that’s mostly Mushroomhead’s mom’s attempt to put a little Yid in her kid . . .). The Molahses and the Princess-Scientists, geared up with firestarters and new sleeping bags, and just a wee bit of fear: off we went, ready to explore the Canadian Rockies, one of the most glorious places on earth.
Perfect? Glorious? Formidable? Indeed. Despite the rain, despite the near-zero (Celsius) temperatures, despite The Scientist feeling weak from a lack of hardy meat, we were doing awesome. We had successfully camped in Revelstoke, successfully collected our firewood and lit our campfires and toasted our marshmallows (“Do you know you’re eating a horse’s hoof?” 6-year-old Carrot asked 5-year-old LL, to which LL replied, “YUMMMMMMMM.”), successfully slept through the nights in our new cozy sleeping bags (apart from The Scientist, who was either romantically attached to the sleeping bag he used at the religious sleepaway camp he attended as a child–or was disinclined to buy a new one for another reason . . . but a couple of nights in the Canadian Rockies air was enough to send him straight to MEC on our arrival in Victoria, cost irrelevant), successfully hiked and canoed and had, in short, fun.
On The Scientist’s birthday, we were camping in the Okanagan. Cool J woke up, made himself a little mud puddle, and rolled around in it. It was hard to believe he had turned 3 the day before. A 10th percentile boy (up from 3rd!), he was still a little and cuddly and mushy baby. And dirty as hell. I pulled off his sleeper and bedtime diaper and scooped him up to throw him under the shower, two campsites away.
From the campsite between ours and the shower, I saw a couple sitting on logs, hacking away as they smoked and downed their 4/5 of JD. I paid them little heed–Cool J and I were singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star together and giggling as we sang–but a few words came my way: “Disgusting . . . what the fuck . . . ” As their discussion went on, it got louder and louder until I heard “NOT EVEN A FUCKING DIAPER!” and I finally realized it was about my child. I turned. “Do you have something to say to me?” I asked. The man: “Yes, you disgusting fucking bitch. How could you let your child be naked? That’s fucking gross.” The woman: “I’m a mother and a fucking good one and I would never fuckin’ leave my kid without a fuckin’ diaper.” There were more nasty nasty words slung at me (and my child–classy). At first I tried to explain that I was steps from my campsite and his clothes were filthy and I was putting him right in the shower, but the abuse continued. I stopped explaining. I got mad. I threw a few rude words their way. They were, I thought, not half as impressive as those of the ever-so-eloquent couple (drunk at 9am), but they weren’t pretty. They shut up. I felt triumphant. I had rebuked them, and clearly they had lost the battle. Don’t you try to win a wordfight against an English PhD! Yeah! I got you good, you trashy losers! I washed that little baby until he was squeaky clean, and we set off for a day of wineries and water-fun. The sky was threatening, but it didn’t rain. The Scientist’s birthday was a lovely day.
As we pulled up to our campsite in the evening, tired but cheerful, however, the first thing I noticed was the pool of water around our tent. “I guess it rained here,” I said, thinking in terms of microclimates. But how micro was this climate? Had the rain shot out of a single cloud that hovered directly above our cloud, like a laserbeam? It didn’t seem likely. I opened our tent to investigate.
Remember the faucet Cool J had played with? The hose attached to it was hooked into the back of our tent. During our 6-hour absence, the water had been running into our tent, soaking everything we own. Trapped in our tent, sealed tight, the water reached up to our waists. I had won a wordfight. Yet in the language of the trashy assholes–and she a mother!–we had been fucked. I had won a wordfight and lost a giant, fucking war.
Can Jews go camping? Hashem gave us a clear answer–well, Hashem and the human refuse with no sense of the camping code, and little sense of humanity, –which was no. Next time we attempt to camp, perhaps we’ll try the Hilton. Or the Fairmont. There’s always the Fairmont.