Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Great Outdoors

There’s nothing like the great outdoors. It’s fresh, it’s open, it’s manly. Many cultures send their men to “prove” themselves by spending a night alone in the great outdoors. The Xachuca tribes of the Peruvian Highlands are a good example. The men there who spend a night in the great outdoors return heroes.

That’s kid stuff, though. All you have to deal with are frogs, birds, and the occasional giant rodent. I say the real test is spending a night in The Awful Outdoors, where trees steal your pants while you sleep, beavers ridicule your face, and everything is just a little stranger.

I went camping in The Awful Outdoors once. I was airdropped a la Man vs. Wild with only a bowie knife except it was during the dead of night with only the moon to light my way. The fall left me fairly bloodless and tired and I decided to sleep it off.

I woke and noticed how beautiful everything was. From the vibrant green vines winding up the aging bark of thieving trees, to the majestic waddling of the mighty penguin taking flight to escape the mechanical claws of the cyborg ape. I didn’t think it possible, but I fell in love with the awful outdoors. “I love you,” I said to the enchanting wonderland as I urinated on a pine tree.

Yes, it was grand and I figured what better way to start the morning than with some food. I set a vat of water to boil and tied my bowie knife to the end of a petrified snake and made my way to a pond. I waded and warded off the amphibious piranha with stabs from my snake spear and left with a giant lobster. I rode the beast to a bear cave where I challenged a bear to a wrestling match by abducting her bear cub. She gave chase for several minutes until my lobster bucked me off and jumped obediently into the boiling vat of water. I tackled the bear and defeated her, ironically, with a bear hug and made pants out of her. I was in desperate need of a pair after waking without any.

I dined on lobster with the bear cub whom I kept as my own. “I am your father and mother now,” I told him as I kicked over the dam of a beaver who said my eyes were crooked. With that I strapped the cub to my back and left the awful outdoors.

“Brave,” some say. “Stupid,” others say, and yet others: “hurry with the sedative, he’s out of his straightjacket!” Opine as they wish—I am a man now.

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