I'm going on an adventure this weekend!
That guy - M - asked if I was free this coming Saturday. If so, he wanted to know if I'd like to go on an adventure. We wouldn't get back to DC till Sunday. He did this by email, so I had a little time to think.
My immediate reaction was, an adventure! I LOVE random adventure! Yes!
And then I had a brief but concerted panic. I have a history of getting into things too quickly. Three dinner dates haven't made it a thing. Would this make it a thing? What does this mean? Does it have to mean anything? What is he thinking? What am I thinking? Does this mean I have to know what I'm thinking?
I freaked out for about a minute with all these things and 85 more. And then I decided to just go with it and have fun.
I emailed back and said, "I love adventure! Absolutely!"
When we talked later, I asked for details.
"You'll have to dress warmly."
Dress warmly? Shit, did I just agree to go camping?
I hate camping. I think back over our dates - was there anything in the conversation that might suggest I even particularly like the outdoors?
Immediately this became one of those scenarios that move 7 million miles a minute in your head. Like when you are out with a guy and during your first cocktail you have, in your mind, already fallen madly in love, moved in together, gotten married, stopped being attracted to each other, grown far apart, and gotten divorced - all in florid detail - and all in the span of oh, perhaps 30 seconds. . .
And you suddenly realize that while you were getting married and divorced in your head you finished your martini and now you have no idea what the guy just asked you. All you know is, you cannot go out with him again. The divorce was just too ugly.
And so in my mind, while M and I are talking, I am dressed warmly and unattractively to go camping, camping! with him, somewhere in the Virginia wilderness. It is cold and dark, and there is a tent, and he is off hunting(!?), and I am, I don't know, sitting on a cooler of Budweiser and warming baked beans on the fire, and listening for bears. And though Dante didn't describe this particular scenario, it must certainly qualify as one of the levels of Hell.
Because he does not know me, he does not know that I only like nature in one of two ways - in one-day increments, like a day of hiking or climbing, or wildly exotic, like the Everest Trek in Nepal. I am happy in the city. I don't even particularly want a lot of nature through a window. That means you're stuck somewhere not city.
I was holding my breath. I let it out just enough to say, "Dress warmly, huh? What are we doing?"
And he said, "We're going to a football game!"
I started to laugh. (I said something to myself that I would never, ever have imagined saying - "Thank you Jesus! A football game!") Out loud I said, "Football? Wow!"
Camping friends say that I've been scarred by my trip with my old boyfriend Axel and the Camping Nazis, that not all camping has to be like that. They say camping can be fun. This trip was 8 years ago, and it's still a fresh and horrible memory.
Axel and I joined his friends up at Lake Arrowhead one long weekend. We arrived a day after everyone, and the first thing we saw were two bulletins posted to a tree next to the tents. One was entitled "Menus" - and it had, in detail, the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus for the entire three days. There were even lists of "Betweel Meal Snacks" at appropriate times. I believe "Beverage Options" was a category as well.
"Activities" was the title of the page posted next to it. It had the schedule of activities, in half-hour increments, from morning till night. Including the annual Battleship competition, which traditionally took place at 2 pm on Saturday. Right after lunch, which took place after the annual Over the Line game. Which could include, if one wanted, beer, as an accompanying beverage.
I am not one to crack open a beer at 10 am. Unless I am forced to play Over the Line with Camping Nazis.
It was a miserable, overscheduled two days. The not bathing is not what gets me about camping - I can be a mudpuppy for a day or two. It's more that the whole being cold, sleeping on the ground, worrying about wild animals ranging from spiders to bears, and washing your cooking utensils in freezing cold water. All of that just sucks.
And going away for a fun weekend with people who schedule your every minute, who get really upset if you want to, say, take a nap instead of participating in the Annual Battleship Competition, well, that's just a waste of a weekend. If I wanted to have that kind of fun regularly, I'd join the military.
Axel is still friends with them, but he also still refers to them as the Camping Nazis. I wasn't hugely fond of these people to begin with, and by the end I disliked them so intensely I could barely look at them.
My highlight of the weekend? The main organizer, this very uptight guy named John, saying, "Planning is just being spontaneous in advance."