Mike and I have been married for five years, and during our blissful time together, HE has done a lot of camping. I have done a little bit of camping, which we documented two years ago on film. Since then I've felt no need to go camping again, or revisit the issue of camping at all.
When Mike goes camping, he's all "let's go to the remotest place ever and carry in our supplies, including water, toilet paper, and a shovel." When I go camping, I'm all "if we really MUST camp, let's find the local campsite that includes flushing toilets, hot showers, and nice picnic tables." So you see how silly it is for us to camp together. Therefore, he goes with his buddies--his dudes, if you will. And every time he goes away for a camping trip and comes home, I can't help but follow him around, HOUNDING him with questions about his trip. These are not the typical what-did-you-see-what-did-you-do type questions. Instead, I am fascinated by the minutiae of their trip, the small acts, the conversations. So I ask the following:
1. When you go to sleep at night, do you say "good night" to each other? Do you slide into your sleeping bags, turn off your flashlights, then say "well...good night, man"?
2. What is the undressing/dressing situation? Are you doing that in your sleeping bag for maximum privacy or do you just turn your backs to each other? Or do you just get dressed right in front of each other? What is the underwear-changing situation? Are you on a daily, or only every other day? Do you change it at all? What about your buddy?
3. If you say goodnight, do you say good morning? Do you wait for your buddy to wake up before you get out of your sleeping bag? Do you bring him hot chocolate? Is it awkward when one of you sleeps longer than the other one?
4. Do you stay up all night talking and giggling like girls do when they have a sleepover?
5. Do you swap awful wife stories and see whose wife is more of a nag?
6. Do you use the words "man," "dude," or "buddy," or do you call each other by your given names, or do you just not refer to each other at all?
And so on. It's just so hard for me to picture two grown men going camping together: sleeping in the same tent, building a fire, cooking meals. It's weird. What do they talk about? I know what I used to talk about when I would camp with my friend Robyn during my teenage years: boys, clothes, crushes, and important philosophical questions like "if the arm coverings on shirts are called sleeves, what are the leg coverings on pants called?" We called them "bleeves." So, "bleeves" is my only frame of reference for camping with a friend. Now I am pretty sure Mike is not sitting around in a tent at one in the morning coming up with silly names for articles of clothing. Just a hunch. So what DO they talk about???
I may never know because Mike is so tight-lipped about everything. "We said nothing!" "No, we didn't say goodnight to each other." "No, I didn't tell him about the time you threw a chair across the room." Etc. He thinks my questions are ridiculous, but I mean, how am I supposed to find these things out? (Some of you may be bursting to make a joke, or refer me to the movie "Brokeback Mountain" right now, but please don't. I'm not talking about THAT kind of camping.) Maybe I should be like that lady on NPR who pretended to be a man for a while so she could study them in their natural environment. But that would require me getting over the whole fear of wilderness survival, which I will never do. So I shall remain, sadly, in the dark regarding men's camping habits.