How to Kill a Buzz or a Squirrel


I was reminded recently of a jovial argument I had at the local watering hole where I declared I was an “expert” camper. I also apparently boasted how I could start a fire without matches and could skin a squirrel with my teeth. I of course denied having said these things because I was wearing a nice suit and didn’t want to have to prove my words one way or the other. (Are squirrels in season?) I simply yelled “Look at the deer!” (an old trick I learned at the dinner table to get rid of vegetables) and then kicked my friend in the shin and shoved myself into him, announcing to the guy next to me, “Hey buddy- watch it!” My friend was incensed to say the least and, I don’t know how to explain it, ended up in an arm-wrestling match with the guy wherein they found out they had attended the same grade school and starred in Mrs. Tibbits’ famous Thanksgiving play- one as the cardboard turkey and one as a Pilgrim. Expert camping was not brought up.


The truth is, I can skin only bananas with my teeth and have no affinity for anything other than a charcoal fire started with a gallon of lighter fluid in a proper black kettle on legs whereupon a metal grate is placed and the finest Herford steaks are charred medium-rare and then served with a fresh salad and a refreshing adult beverage. 


How I would have boasted to be a camping expert boggles the mind. Camping is not a leisurely thing. It’s hard work- something I have learned to dislike. First you must decide what to bring which in itself is worth declaring a holiday for. Will it rain? Do you want to fish? Take the boat or fish from shore? What tackle? Take the bike? How ‘bout the horseshoes? Got the perk pot? Sunscreen, bug spray, cookware, sleeping bag, cooler? Band-aids, snake-bite kit, T.P.?  


When you arrive at your destination, you must set up all this gear, including a tent which is flimsy enough to remind you that, after all, it is not the rain you have to worry about but bears and wolves and kangaroos (depending on your location) which can pounce on you in the night and disembowel you as you lie wide awake wishing the whippoorwill and the hoot owl and the crickets would stop their racket.


Morning brings its own joys as you realize your tent mate was responsible for bringing the food and has not only managed a decent nights sleep but only brought SPAM and cigars for provisions. You forgot the can opener. You dream of fried bacon and coffee while you crouch down by the picnic table listening to the world’s supply of birds in the tree above you while burning a smoke fire for bugs and smashing open a can of SPAM with a rock. And you stink.


I’ll never say another word about it. Look at the deer!