Temperature is normal and I am out of the woods.
Which is a metaphor I just don’t get. I’ve lived most of my life in the shadow of some of the mightiest rainforests on earth, so being ‘out of the woods’ implies something is wrong with being IN them.
Which there is not.
Unless there are moose or elk in rut (see above) or cougar or guys around. Notice, I didn’t include bear in that short list of problem creatures? That’s because with minimal precautions bear are not a problem. Hooved things, little,furry things, winged things, men, those can be problems.
Especially men. No one wants to wake up at 3:38 am to find something BIG snuffling and pawing at the side of a tent trying to get inside. And you realize its your guy and he’s lost orientation and is trying to undo the zipper window at the top of the tent AND THE TENT ISN’T YOURS. No. It isn’t.
It belongs to Mark and Crystal – the same girl he’s been trying to impress all day with hair brained moves on the quad. Oh and lets not forget crushing a beer can against the forehead and NOT remembering that theirs a trick to it-or he didn’t ask what it was-so now he is wandering around the camp with a welt in the shape of a circle on his forehead and some expensive repair to the quad.
I hate to be sexist but generally speaking I don’t find women in the woods much of a challenge to deal with. Once in awhile you’ll get the odd chick who can’t pee in the woods properly or wants to know can she plug in her hair straightener to my dash lighter which hasn’t worked since 1985. Or maybe some of her extensions fall out and that’s always startling, but for the most part, no problem. The amateurs freeze in fear for the whole weekend, clinging to the guy and drinking WAY too many Mike’s Hard Ice Teas- and thereby assuring that they will NEVER be invited out to ‘the bush’ again.
Men? I often find that men in the woods seem to adopt a macho ‘I can take it’ attitude that isn’t always pretty. Oh fuck it, I’ll just say it, it’s EMBARRASSING! You feel pity for them and that’s an uncomfortable feeling. For me, anyway. Maybe you like it. Pity is what I feel for shelter animals that I can’t adopt. This is pitiful, too.
If I feel terrible I can charge into Michele’s house and slam the door and say ‘Do you know what my assistant manager did today?!’ With Kevin he would just eat too many cookies and go sit on the computer and sweat at the screen. Pitiful.
Men shouldn’t inspire pity, simply because they are often pitiful. Women understand this. We KNOW they’re pitiful. We are here to assure them it’s okay. We didn’t notice.
I’m an old fashioned, old school country girl raised in the city. That means I’m all fucked up and conflicted, in case you’re wondering. It means that I am both an amateur and a professional.
It means I’m in charge of getting Bruce Springsteen tickets and arranging hotels and driving to Calgary and getting the convoy there in one long line.
It means finding the nearest country and western night club to the hotel. Preferably walking distance, so we can go somewhere after the show is over and dance and fight and drink and eat and mess up the line dances cuz no one knows the moves.
It means that you get to dance with rough tough guys who are ANGELS on the dance floor cuz their own Momma taught them to dance in the kitchen when they were 6 yrs old.
It means I remember where the nearest good, cheap breakfast is and that we are back on the road home, hung over as shit but safe and together. It means I had a major ASSET to bring to the table and when the Red Hot Chili Peppers or The Who came to Calgary or anywhere else close, I was invited.
It means I learned how to bloody well MERGE into traffic, not just of the city but of small town life.
What country and living in the bush and camping means is that I had to be shown how to start a fire , how to safeguard small arms and rifles and shotguns, how to use a chain saw, how to set up a safe camp in bear country, how to make Nanaimo Bar’s and frozen Hash Brown casseroles. Those are the 5 essentials. Just those. But if I forget something-there’s always someone watching over you. Making sure you have the safety on, the kindling dry, the bucking pants buckled up and the oven at the right temperature.
It also means that I don’t have experience in some basic stuff that the country girls learned at their Mama and Memaw’s knees. I had to learn how to phrase a question so that it doesn’t sound like a question.
‘OMG!that is the tastiest pie crust ever!’ and they give you the recipe. They make a crust standing right next to you while they tell you the history of the recipe and what it can and cannot be used for because there are a million pies, girl. THIS crust is for a wet filling. Now a hot water crust is for meat pies and lard is for…
With the guys, you watch and watch and say ‘That looks scary.’ and it does. Chainsaws are scary to city girls and quite a few of the campfire stories are about saws kicking back, or getting dropped or breaking and they say ‘Naw…here now. Put these bucking pants on and these safety glasses and these gloves and I guess those are good boots, tie your hair back, okay? Now let me show you a few basics.’ Should you demur you will be reminded gently of where you live. It’s not a choice to learn to use a chainsaw. It’s a necessity. Big winter storm? A chainsaw could save your life.
So you learn.
With guys? There was no learning curve. Hell no. If you have any questions the answer is WATCH AND LEARN. That’s why country boys are such fantastic mechanics. Someone, usually several someones, are watching you put the carburetor in. Even if you’ve done it a million times.
When I needed someone to look at my truck cuz it was making a funny jingly noise, all I had to do was pop the hood and put a dozen beer on the fender. Here comes Marcel. ‘Problem?’ Cracks a beer, starts the truck and calls Shawn or Jesse to see if they have a 1/18″ wrench. I go make sandwiches and by the time I come back out there are 6 guys and its figured out and they are all laughing fit to be tied. Why? My 14 yr old niece stuck one of those birthday balloons that play a tune under my dashboard. Whenever I hit a bump it would start up.
Faintly. Just within range of hearing. Just the musical board. That jingly noise? It was Wild Thing by the Troggs played until the battery was just about dead.
Are you starting to understand my perception of guys as pitiful creatures? They filed that under Best Practical Joke to drive a girl crazy. When they left they swore me to secrecy and were off to find musical balloons or greeting cards to drive their various women mad.
Men can’t ask questions. It’s been drilled into them. I can ask.
Hey Joanne, how’d you get the top of this casserole so crispy?
What do you mean ‘don’t burn poplar?’
What’s the difference between a hatchet and a maul?
Hey Tom, is that my fingertip?
Is this funny?