Monday, July 28, 2008

Still Squirming

When I think back on some of my childhood camping experiences, I understand why my sister shakes her head and rolls her eyes, wondering why I love those memories. I really enjoyed myself back then, but it's hard to explain it to other people. Most of those stories are outrageous, and I'm often the butt of the joke.

Daddy didn't think anybody needed an air mattress, even if the ground was covered with rocks. That's why God made little kids: to remove the rocks before the tent is pitched. If you miss any, you deserve to roll over on them. 

He had a good trick. Everybody had to scoop out a little hollow in the dirt where their hips would nestle. That way, while you're lying all cosy in your sleeping bag, your head and shoulders would be higher than your hips, making you much more comfortable. I'm not sure this works. I never seemed to get my hollow in the right place, but I tried.

There was one memorable night when we arrived somewhere, late and tired as usual. We picked rocks and dug our hollows, then erected the tent. Dragging our sleeping bags inside, we preserved our modesty by carefully undressing in shifts. We lay down like sardines in our bags, the night sounds all around us. I rolled around, trying to get my hips in the right place. Dad shut off the lantern. It was dark.

Wiggle, wiggle, squirm. Where is that hole? Swish went the zipper when I had to move it down to readjust myself. My flannel PJs had twisted inside the flannel sleeping bag. Zip. Wiggle. Come on, hole. I know you're there. Squirm. Wiggle. Squirm.

"Kathleen Louise! What are you doing over there?"

"Sorry, Daddy. I keep getting my shoulder caught in my rump hole!"

My mother is particularly fond of telling stories like that. The larger the group, the more likely this story is in making the rounds. Beware of marrying into our family. There are hundreds of stories like this, and you might consider avoiding Thanksgiving dinner until people think you've already heard all of the embarrassing tales from each of your new in-laws... 

Never mind. That will never happen. Besides, Ellen & Johnny host Thanksgiving each year. You really wouldn't want to miss that. And our family will never run out of stories, or care if you've already heard them.

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