Campin' with Cletus and Deadly Varmints!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

“Happy early Father’s Day!” said the Normal Mormon Wife. It was Friday, two days before my official day of praise and eating red meat, and I was still at work. Over the phone the NMW gave me the following instructions, “Don’t go home after work…and make sure your car has at least a half of a tank of gas.”

Saying I was intrigued is like saying Mary Murphy on SYTYCD gets slightly excited about a “buck” and/or “stank” dance routine. My mind was swimming with possibilities. Were we going to the Carolina beaches? The Appalachians? Where, pray tell? WHERE!?

Well, we ended up staying in town but I still almost get eaten alive by a wild animal and shot dead by drunk hillbillies. I’ll explain later.

Before I left work the NMW called again and told me to meet her at huge campground just outside of town. She and our three kids would meet me there for an evening of hot dogs, S’mores, and outdoor shenanigans. Then the family would head home at night and I would camp out.

Alone. All by myself.

When I first spoke to the NMW about my desire to go camping alone I described the experience as “fun”, “relaxing”, and “manly.” I think she used words like “disturbing”, “anti-social”, and “Charles Manson-like”. But this is what I love about the NMW – she supports me even when she thinks I am behaving like a serial killer.

I volunteered to swing by Wal-Mart to grab some hot dogs, buns, and ketchup. When I got to the campground I was amazed to see the NMW had already put up my tent despite having three kids with her. Initially I could only see two kids because our 12-month-old toddler daughter was already covered in mud and blended into the natural environment, like Arnold Schwarzenegger hiding in the mud bank from The Predator. (Sorry if only three people got that last reference, but it was an unforgettably cool moment in the movie.)

The NMW unpacked the groceries and said, “Ummm…where are the hot dogs?” They were nowhere to be found.

Now I know I put the hot dogs in my shopping cart because I had debated whether to get the generic dogs ($.17 per artery-clogging goodie) or the all-beef, road-kill free Oscar Meyers ($.26 each per coronary assassin). After reviewing my Wal-Mart receipt I realized the hot dogs never even got rung up. I think they must have disappeared from my cart into a fourth dimension vortex near the Fritos display at that particular Wal-Mart. (I’ve seen other shoppers have things get sucked into that same vortex, too, like “hope” and “the will to live.” Gotta love Wal-Mart!)

So we improvised had S’mores for dinner!

As the sun started to go down and our daughter’s mud-to-skin ratio became dangerously out of whack, the family headed home. And I was left alone. In nature. To camp.

And, being a real manly-man, did what manly-men do – I gazed at the stars, contemplated stuff, stoked the fire, ate several 12-inch Slim Jims, and started re-writing a novel I shelved a while back. And I was completely happy.

But my tranquility was shattered when the human version of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel and his brood pulled into the campsite next to mine. I counted between twelve and seventy-eight children running about yelling, “Wooooo Hooooo!” until 11:30 p.m. At one point I asked myself, “Where are their parents and/or court-appointed guardians?” My question was answered after hearing an adult male belch followed by the sounds of several other adults hootin’, hollerin’, and guffawin’ their approval.

I tuned them out and kept writing. By now it was pitch black and I could only see within a few feet of my fire. At one point I had to get up to gather some more firewood and as my flashlight illuminated the blackness I saw something that freaked me out:

A coyote.

Now, I’m no Jack Hannah or anything, but I am positive it was a coyote. My friends have tried to convince me that it was a fox or a hedgehog and I’m just embellishing, but after extensive internet research I have concluded it was, in fact, a coyote. Among all the other possibilities, it definitely looked most like the first animal in this police lineup:

The coyote was slinking around the outskirts of my camp about forty feet from my fire. As soon as the flashlight hit him he quickly darted into the woods, like an impatient member at Stake Conference who bolts the meeting before the closing hymn to “beat the parking lot traffic.”

Hoping the coyote was gone for good I sat down and continued to type. One of the things I did not anticipate was having every insect within ten miles being attracted to the glow of my laptop screen. Seriously. Dozens of winged insect swarmed my monitor like a quorum of hungry Deacons attacking the éclair table at a wedding reception.

While I was typing and simultaneously shooing away bugs I was also periodically shining my flashlight in sweeping motions in the general direction where I had spotted the coyote. I felt like a prison watchtower guard scanning the walls for escaping convicts. After several minutes I had become convinced the coyote had left for good, but then I did one last flashlight sweep for good measure.

And there, reflecting back at me in the flashlight beam, were two dazzling coyote eyes.

He was only about fifteen feet away and slinking toward me in perfect silence, like a parent tip-toeing away from a sleeping infant’s crib.

We both froze. Then, when the fight-or-flight instinct kicked in, I responded by urinating myself, throwing Slim Jims at the coyote, and running away screaming like a little girl.

Not really. I jumped up, made my 6’6" frame as big as possible, bared my teeth, and growled like a bear. The coyote ran away. I felt manly. And freaked out. So I picked up a large club-shaped piece of firewood roughly the size of baseball bat and continued typing.

I kept scanning the camp site every minute or two with my flash light after that. And, believe it or not, but a few minutes later I CAUGHT THE COYOTE FIVE FEET AWAY FROM ME! Now I was convinced he was trying to eat me, and, if successful, the NMW would forever be the brunt of “Maybe the dingo ate your husband,” jokes. I was not about to let that happen.

Plus, at this rate, I wouldn’t catch the coyote’s next sneak attack until he was literally sitting in my lap and editing my novel. I had had enough!

I picked up my club, jumped up from my chair, and ran after the stupid coyote while I hissed, growled, yelled and grunted like a female tennis pro.

The coyote left for good this time, but I’m pretty sure I was too successful in my general scariness because I startled Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel and his posse. Based on the noises that had emanated from their camp I was pretty sure my neighbors had four things in amply supply: 1) Beer. 2) Loaded Shot Guns. 3) Limited common sense (even when sober). 4) Itchy trigger fingers.

For a moment I was afraid Cletus was going to shoot me dead right there on the spot, mistaking me for a bear. Or his parole officer. Whatever. Fortunately nobody ended up eating hot lead that evening. (Well, at least I didn’t, but I wouldn’t put anything by Cletus and his crew of merry-makers.)

At this point I was tired and not particularly relishing hand-to-hand combat with a wild animal or trading small arms fire with my neighbors, so I went to bed. Nothing protects a person from wild animals and a hail of gunfire like a $10-tent from Wal-Mart.

Fortunately I survived the night alone in the woods and returned home to celebrate Father’s Day with an fun-loving wife and three awesome (and dirty) children.

But the next time the NMW says, “Don’t come home…get your passport…withdraw $218…meet me at the Motel 8 under the name Chesty LaRue…” I’m asking some follow-up questions.

Like NMH? Grahamtastic Stickers and Husband Hero make it possible. Why don't you advertise on NMH, too?


This post had a couple of one-liners that I really liked for some reason. I hope I'm not alone. You can vote in the poll on the left-hand column if anything tickled your funny bone. Or any other part of your body, for that matter.

2:50 PM

Well...the poll isn't working for some reason. If you are so inclined, you can post a comment instead and let me know which line you like the best:

1) Mary Martin on a "buck" and/or "stand" routine. (I would never use those words in a normal conversation.)

2) The Wal-Mart 4th Dimension vortex.

3) The person who bolts Stake Conference before the closing prayer.

4) The quorum of hungry Deacons attacking the eclair table.

5) The coyote sitting in my lap, editing my novel.

Again, maybe I'm just a little giddy today, but those lines made me chuckle.

3:00 PM
Heather said...

Those one-liners actually all made me chuckle, but I think the deacons at a wedding reception line takes the, eclair.

4:53 PM
Heather said...

I personally liked the comment about you asking questions about 'getting your passport, taking the $218 out, going to the motel 8 and your wife's name being under Chesty LaRue!' lol My WMH ( Weird Mormon Husband) would love that! (if I actually could/would ever do that, I'm just sayin). But I vote for the 'coyote sitting in your lap'.

5:08 PM
Lalis said...

Oh geez... I'm torn between the Walmart vortex (because I'm sure that actually DOES exist **shudder**) and the coyote editing your novel! I have a very vivid imagination, you can imagine what I saw in my head when I read those.

5:28 PM
Alyssa said...

I totally loved the coyote sitting in your lap editing your novel! Cause you know that's just what he was itchin to do. He couldn't have cared less about eating smores/slim jims/you.

5:58 PM
carmar76 said...

LOL Okay, first of all, the Predator reference was awesome. Thank you.

This post had me rolling at my desk. Again, thank you! Tho all the one-liners elicited chuckles, the coyote in your lap, editing your novel is hands down my favorite! Along with the MJFox site gag, wonderful.

Just for good measure, a third Thank You is in order! ; )


7:59 PM

I also have a vivid imagination and the coyote sitting in my lap editing my novel makes me chuckle.

I think the coyote would wear a monocle, a monogrammed sweater, smoke a pipe, and speak with the British Accent. His name would be Sir Edwin Cornelius Conyers III and would say things like,

"The skunk roadkill I ate last night was easier to digest than Chapter 3..." or

"My species only lives about six human years on average. You'd better trim 230 pages from this monstrosity or I'll never live to read the conclusion..."

I'll be sure to mention Sir Edwin in my acknowledgments when and if I ever finish that book.

8:05 PM
jojomynx said...

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Predator reference and the MjFox site reference. As for your one-liners, I think I laughed hardest at the deacons at the eclair table. I can just picture their drooling faces not caring about the event, just the desserts.

Once again, another hilarious entry. I'll be looking for the Sir Edwin reference in your acknowledgments on the book when it is finally released.

9:21 PM
Brian said...

Dude, finish your book already and become famous. You're wasting too many talents in HR!

I almost woke the wife up laughing out loud a few times during the post: "grunted like a female tennis pro" and "urinating myself, throwing Slim Jims at the coyote, and running away screaming like a little girl" and "Nothing protects a person from wild animals and a hail of gunfire like a $10-tent from Wal-Mart" were my favorites.

11:40 PM
Melanie said...

I'm with Heather, my favorite was, “Don’t come home…get your passport…withdraw $218…meet me at the Motel 8 under the name Chesty LaRue…” I laughed out loud. My other favorite was leaving stake conference before the closing prayer. So true.

8:08 AM
normal mormon wife said...

Hey, it's a $15 tent from Target! Otherwise, it probably would have been lost in the WM vortex, right?

Great post, babe. And I already know what to do for your b'day. I'll start saving the $218 right now.

8:20 AM
Marni said...

... As soon as the flashlight hit him he quickly darted into the woods, like an impatient member at Stake Conference who bolts the meeting before the closing hymn to “beat the parking lot traffic.”

My favorite line, I laughed out loud! So true!

8:28 AM
Ang said...

I liked "Chesty LaRue." But I'm a bad influence.
Glad the coyote didn't getcha!

9:17 AM
Chad said...

Nevermind the Coyote, I am laughing that you took your laptop camping.

As for the one liners, they were good, but I have to vote for the Walmart Vortex. In the immortal words of Homer (Simpson-not the great author)- "Its funny cuz its true!"

12:05 PM

Ang - The "Chesty LaRue" nickname for the NMW is a shout-out to an old episode of The Simpsons. Homer legally changes his name to "Max Power" and his life dramatically improves, so he takes the liberty of changing Marge's name to Chesty LaRue. It's been a little inside joke between the NMW and me for years. So don't worry, Homer corrupted me long before you ever did.

4:57 PM
Chad said...

"Hi I am Max Power!"

" I love the name."

" Thanks, I got it off my wife's hair dryer."

5:05 PM
DeNae said...

Coyote editing the book, and the $10 Wal-Mart tent. Those were the best lines.

And I am very proud to have been one of the three who understood the 'Predator' reference, even though I'm a girl.

I, too, grew up in WVC. I'm pretty sure Cletus was our Student Body President.

5:08 PM
Tiffany said...

I liked the deacons comment the best...but the whole post was pretty hilarious. And I agree with my husband that the urinating yourself and screaming like a girl part was pretty great.. :)

7:29 PM
Amie said...

That was so great. I love the dingo comment. =)

11:02 PM
Erin H. said...

You really are getting funnier every time I check back here. Thanks for many chuckles!

11:48 PM
Julie said...

My favorite part of this entire post (and I have a lot) is that you used your outdoorsy camping time to type on a laptop.

My personal favorite sort of camping is when my husband sleeps in the tent in the yard with our four children and I get the whole bed to myself.

12:20 AM
Nelson said...

Okay this was filled with hilarious one-liners. I really like the police line-up too. I think the Deacons line is the best because I work with the Deacons in the ward. That comment is so true. Before I taught my lesson this last Sunday I talked a little about respect and "ladies first" because at mutual the Wednesday previous they were practically knocking down the young women as they darted to the refreshment table after the combined activity.

I'm sure anyone else that has worked with the Deacons can relate.

12:14 PM
Anonymous said...

I think I should have been following your blog long before this. Now I'll think of "Chesty LaRue" every time I see your NMW.
A "relative" new comer.

5:47 PM
Anonymous said...

I think it's rather vain and pompous to be the first commenter on your own post and to assume you have funny one-liners and attempt to create a poll about it. That being said, I laughed out loud, you're freakin hilarious, and I'm buying your book.

9:24 PM

Anonymous 9:24 P.M. I think it's rather cowardly and wimpy to take a pot-shot under the cloak of anonymity.

That being said, I think you are a freakin' awesome blog follower and I am glad you will buy my book.

7:35 PM