This is the way I envisioned it. Its Friday, July 3 the day were supposed to leave for the camping trip. I would go to work. While I was at work, Bonnie would be at home packing all the food and clothes, and getting the kids ready. I would only work a half day. I'd be home by 12:00. Take down the tent. Pack the car up. Leave the house by 5:00. Drive for three hours. Be at the camp site by 8:00 PM. Unpack the car. Set the tent up. And be sitting by the fire with a cold drink in my hand by 9:00. OK, maybe 9:30. NO PROBLEM!
Unfortunately I have very narrow vision. I never took into account my wife's second major annoying problem. I forgot to mention, being a clean freak was my wife’s first annoying problem. I can live with that. I can live with the vacuum going for three hours at a time. I might be deaf, but I can live with that. Her second major annoying problem, and this one is really annoying, is that she is never, never, never, never, never and never ever on time. Never! Let me put it this way. We go to church every Sunday. It doesn't matter what time we go for. It could be 9:00 mass, it could 10:30 mass, it could be sunny that day; it could be a snow storm that day. We will never get there on time. Never! Never, ever! Never! I don't even know what the front of the church looks like. We always have to stand in the back. And then we have to stand in back of the people who were already standing, because they were late and we were even later. If she can't be on time for God, you know that she'll never be on time for me. Especially July 2, the day I want to be at the camp site by 8:00 PM.
The next day I go to work. Put in my half day and pull into the driveway exactly at 12:00; just like I planned. At least one of us can be on time. I expected to walk into the house and see that everything was ready to go, food, clothes, kids, wife. Nothing! Not one thing. Not one thing was packed. “Bonnie, why isn't anything packed, I asked?” “Well, she says, I had to make the beds, do the dishes, do the laundry, wash the floor, dress the kids, make them lunch.” “OK, ok, but why isn't anything packed?” That's what I felt like saying. It's not like I didn't expect this. I was hoping just this once she would be ready. Like the good husband I am and will always be, I keep my thoughts to myself and let my increasing blood pressure take a few more years off of my life.
I decided to go in the backyard and take the tent down while Bonnie finally starts packing for the trip. The tent smelled nice and fresh, just like my underwear. Clean freaks do come in handy. Taking the tent down was easy. My two boys Christopher and Anthony helped me get the poles down but when it came time to take the eighteen stakes out of the ground, they became Sigmund and Roy and just vanished. Well, not quite like Sigmund and Roy. I just started taking the stakes out of the ground when miss’s clean-it sticks her head out of the house and yells; “You should soak those dirty stakes in a bucket.” “Why would I want to soak them in a bucket, I replied? They’re going back in the ground in few more hours anyway.” Why would I want to clean them only to make them dirty again? "My brother always cleans his stakes before he puts them away,” she yells! “Well do I look like your brother.” I'm much better looking, I thought to myself.
This is where genetics comes in. Bonnie's older brother Barry is a clean freak just like her. Think of Barry like Yoda and Bonnie like Luke Skywalker. Master Cleanliness teaching student cleanliness the way of the golden mop. This is where it gets freaky. Their sister Barbara is just the opposite. I don't think she knows what a mop looks like. But that’s not the freaky part. Did you notice alls the B's, Bonnie, Barry, Barbara. Take a guess what letter their mothers’ name begins with; how about B. Bernice is her mother’s name. They call her Bea. That’s a surprise. What kind of family names all their kids based on a single letter. What about their dog? You would think because a dog is not in the human category, they would break away from tradition and maybe go with a A, C or even a D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, LMNOP, Q, R, S, T .U. V. W. XYZ. No! Here Brutus, roll over Brutus, fetch Brutus. That’s not the end of it, traditions are hard to break; Barbara and Barry had their own kids, not with each other of course. That would really be freaky. What in the world could they possibly name them; how about Brendon, Bradley, Brian, Barry and Bret. Enough said.
It’s a good thing my family is normal. My mother named her kids, Paul, Carl, Bob, Lori and Mary. She actually looked in the whole name book, not just the B section. My mother picked simple random names, or so I thought. I found out much later in my life there is a reason for everything, including names. Apparently my mother didn’t think we were that smart. She kept are names short so we would have no trouble spelling and writing our names in kindergarten. To this day, I still have trouble spelling words over four letters long.
My mother constantly worried about us. She worried we couldn’t spell our names, we didn’t dress warm enough, we didn’t eat enough, we eat too much. No wonder I was afraid to write this book. I inherited the worry gene from her.
Let’s get back to the tent stakes. I decided I didn’t want to start another argument with Bonnie, so I soaked the tent stakes in a bucket. I figured instead of scrubbing the dirt off of them which could take some time, I would let them soak for a while and the dirt would just disintegrate and come right off. I left them in the corner of my patio to self clean themselves and went back to pack the tent.
Taking the tent down is one thing but folding it up and fitting it in the box is another. I could just try folding the tent randomly and hope it fits; or I could use my brain and figure it out mathematically. I’m going to try math; only because I already tried three times and couldn’t get it in the box. Kids, this is why they make you take math in school. Let’s see, the tent is 16’ long, 10’ wide and 8 feet tall. That’s 16 times 10 times 8, equals 1280 square feet. The box is 3’ long by 1’ high and 1’ wide. That’s 3 square feet. So 1280 should equal 3. Not! I think this problem calls for fuzzy math, maybe even physics. If I could just remove the space between the molecules of the tent, it would shrink the tent down enough to fit in the box. No, I’m not a genius but I did watch Honey I Shrunk the Kids. If I only had his Shrink Gun; I could shrink everything down to pint size, put it in a shoe box, take it to the camp site, un-shrink it and be ready to go in just minutes. Not hours like usual. The shrink gun could also be useful in your marriage. The wife puts on some extra pounds, BAM! Problem solved.
I’m going to look to the Orient for the answer. It’s called Origami, the art of folding. If you can fold a dollar bill into a small little shirt, I’m sure you can fold a tent into a box. Actually if I just follow the original fold lines of the tent I should be OK. So after a couple times folding and unfolding the tent, I almost got it to fit. The problem wasn’t the way I was folding the tent, the problem was trapped air. How do you get the trapped air out of the tent? It’s called the Musilli Roll. I named it after the inventor, me. It works just like old fashioned clothes ringer. You put the wet clothes into the rollers, crank the handle and it forces the water out of the clothes. The tent represents the clothes, the air is the water, but what can I use for the rollers. “Bonnie”, can you come over here for a minute? I unfolded the tent just a little bit, about a 3 by 8 foot section. Bonnie lay down right here and start rolling. ------ “WHAT” ----- “You called me out here to do what?” “What do you think I look like a ---------.” Right there many things pop in my head. Does she really want me to tell her what she looks like? Does she really want the truth; no, of course not. She can’t handle the truth. Thanks Jack.
So I end up doing it myself as usual. I lie down on one side of the tent and start rolling. As you roll the air in the tent gets pushed to the opposite side and actually causes the tent to inflate. You just keep rolling until all the trapped air starts to dissipate. Then you fold the tent over again and roll again. You keep doing the roll until the tent is small enough to fit in the box. It helps to have a non- curved body. It’s better to be like a rolling pin than an hour glass. That’s why men are better than women for rolling; less room for trapped air to escape. Of course I wouldn’t mind watching Pamela Anderson do the roll. I’m sure the tent wouldn’t mind either.
I have all the camping gear ready to go into the station wagon. I better go in the house and pack some clothes. Let’s see, we’ll be gone three days; that’s three shirts, two pair of jeans, two pair of socks and one pair of underwear. Yea I know what you’re thinking. I’d better bring three pairs of socks. Better safe than sorry. Honey, I’m done packing, let’s get going. “Oh really, she says from the kitchen. What exactly did you pack?” “Well, I ---------.” “Did you pack your tooth brush?” “No …….” “Did you pack your shaver?” “No…….. Did you take a jacket?” No…..” That’s when I looked on the bed and seen her suitcase and three boxes. The suit case was packed so high the cover wouldn’t close. Are we leaving for a week? Did someone forget to tell me something? I’m looking at all the boxes; there seems to be one for each kid. Each box also had enough clothes for one week. This can’t be right, were only going for three days. How many clothes could you possibly need for one week end? Am I going to have enough room in the wagon for all this? I’d better get to the bottom of this. There’s no way I’m bringing all these clothes!Camping fun with Carl signing off!