June 1, 2023

That Really Bunches My Panties…by Brendon Marks


As winter slides into the background and the weather improves, many people plan camping trips, to which I say, “To each his own,” but it’s not likely that you’ll run into me in the woods.

In the first place, I find it puzzling that the same person who complains about getting down on his hands and knees to retrieve the newspaper out from under a bush will leave the warmth and comfort of a nice bed to go lay in the dirt (regardless of how good the air smells).

I suspect that the author of that “Princess and the Pea” story had the inspiration while on a camping trip. No amount of raking, sweeping, smoothing or leveling will remove that stick, root, or rock that presses firmly against the most sensitive spot on your body within seconds of your settling down to sleep. If you remove everything that causes you discomfort, your sleeping area will look like an open grave by morning.

This activity also guarantees that any moisture within a mile will drain into your sleeping area instead of away from it, and exposes you to all kinds of varmints that can sneak up on you while you’re trying to scratch out a reasonably comfortable nest. Ticks, chiggers, and millions of other nameless four-or-more-legged critters will all congregate the instant you disturb even one leaf on the forest floor. You will itch for days as a result of being munched on by mandibles whose last munch very well could have been dead for weeks.

I remember the last time I slept on the ground. Even though many fine geese had given their overcoats to ensure my comfort, my nose, toes, and everything in between was cold. The strange part was that I began to sweat. I attribute this to my realization that there was a very real possibility that I would freeze to death. I had visions of them finding my body, completely encased in a frozen sweat-shell. The coroner would have to use a match to melt the ice between my toes so he could attach the tag, and ice-tongs to drag me to the road. With such ideas in mind I was somewhat reluctant to fall asleep.

Even so, it was not too cold for the bugs. During this trip I encountered an ant that had the reconnoitering ability of The Three Stooges, became lost, and wandered into my ear. He failed to recognize the probing cotton swab as a lifeline, and was more apt to dodge it than he was to grab hold and ride it out. Let me tell you, a panicky pith ant, (this is a “G” rated article), running around on your eardrum sounds like a horse galloping through breakfast cereal. Try carrying that around in your head for a while.

I tried to flush him out with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and warm water, but this particular ant either couldn’t swim, wouldn’t float, or loved to surf. He never came out, and I suspect that he has set up housekeeping–kind of like Cranial Condominiums. I know he’s in there; occasionally I find a tiny rolled-up newspaper stuck in my sideburn, and there’s always the smell of burning wax every time the weather gets cold.

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