"We like camping better!" --Raymond Alexander Kukkee

view of the north shore Critter Pond, KOA Canandaigua NY [c] 2009 jcb

Of Tents and Men

by Grace Alexander guest columnist

[Editor's note - Grace is a full-time freelance author and editor.
This is her third installment, and is exclusive to Just Camping Out]

Grace Alexander, columnist for Just Camping OutHi! Yeah, it's me… back with yet another reason that I (you guessed it) hate camping.

We can send a man to the moon. We build bread makers that mix, proof and bake at the touch of a button. We have computers so advanced they make even a techno cripple like myself look like I actually know what I am doing.

We can't, apparently, produce a tent that anyone short of an astrophysicist can assemble in less than four hours. We also, or so it would seem, are incapable of manufacturing a waterproof shelter.

It's not just the tent, really, when you get down to it. It's the idea that the man has to be the one to put up the tent. Unfortunately, tents come with instructions, and we all know what that means. Instructions are like maps, good for stuffing in the glove-box or using as kindling to start the fire.

These are barely intelligible, anyway; as if the originals were written by a (what else) astrophysicist, translated into Japanese for no discernable reason, then translated into Russian for greater ease of translating back into fourth grade English.

actual instructions to Jim's Columbia tent
Photo: actual assembly instructions for a Columbia camping tent

The directions seem straightforward at first, such as 'put the end of pole A in the end of pole B' and 'thread pole C through pocket D.' Problem is, they invariably have sticky circles with the letters affixed to help you determine these slots and tabs, and the inspector who works in the miserable warehouse where they pack these miserable things invariably mis-stickies a few of the poles, causing more confusion.

This is the point at which the man becomes frustrated, and starts striking the ends of the poles with a hammer in order to force them to fit according to the little adhesive green circles stamped with letters of the alphabet. The woman must dig the charred remains of the instruction manual out of the fire and take the hammer away from the enraged male, giving him a beer and encouraging him to go take a load off.

Four hours later, the tent is assembled, and everything is moved inside just as it begins to rain. Everything placed in the tent to keep dry is promptly soaked, and the weight of the waterlogged material bends one of the flimsy aluminium tubes abruptly in the middle, collapsing said tent on top of its occupants.

From the wreckage the head of the household speaks - "I knew I should have done it myself! Women have no place putting up tents…."

Copyright 2008, all rights reserved - Grace Alexander for Just Camping Out

Read Grace's Profile on Helium.com

All I can say, honestly, is "I can relate - been there!" Good thing I have two smart kids who don't even need to read those instructions (see photo, above: it's real!) ~Jim

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