I am currently aboard a cruise ship, steaming toward the Eastern Caribbean and flocked with people who, like me, feel a vacation should involve being waited on hand and foot until they arrive back home and see the mess that awaits them.
Which is why I will never go camping.
I will not camp, because I have no desire to bring the mess with me, which is camping’s basic definition. Or, simply put, hitch your house to your car and drive until you find a field populated by a large collection of individuals who have chosen similar methods of relaxation. Then try and squeeze your home between their homes, using only your side-view mirrors.
As I near retirement, I am surrounded with friends of similar ages who are only too glad to tell me how they are planning to spend their golden years, even though there is nothing “golden” about a yearly prostate exam. Some have already begun, purchasing land in warm weather climates and building their dream houses, often larger and more ostentatious than their initial homes. They add electronic toys that were never affordable when raising children but now are within reach, or were until the stock market tanked. They add rooms with specific uses, like “the sitting room” and “the wine cellar.” One friend was only too happy to give me a tour of his wine cellar, although he balked when I pulled out a bottle of cabernet and asked if it could accompany tonight’s dinner.
Snatching it from my hands, as if I had stumbled upon his bank account numbers, he said, “I’m saving that one.”
“For WHAT EXACTLY?” I thought. “You’re 67 years old. Aren’t you far past the ‘special occasions’ era?” I would uncork that bottle and treat myself to a glass merely for remembering where I left my car keys.
I have met passengers aboard this ship whose retirement consists of taking as many cruises as they can cram into their remaining years. It’s like living with a bunch of college students; they go home simply to do laundry.
Then there are those who purchase campers.
Perhaps I am being naïve, because I have never camped. I do remember a few nights as a youth folded into a sleeping bag or slumbering on an air mattress inside of a tent, but that may have been in my friend David’s back yard. It certainly wasn’t a vacation. Nor have I ever spent a night in a previously mentioned camper. I do enjoy receiving tours given by camper owners, however, because I marvel that EVERYTHING in a camper serves a dual purpose.
“Greg this is where we sleep,” said a friend recently while showing off his new mode of transportation. “It’s a king-sized mattress, but check this out: If you pull that rope on the far end toward you (LOUD GRUNT) and flip it over … voila, our dining room table!”
“That’s amazing!” I lied. “Do you have a bathroom here?”
“Of course we do. It’s right past the coffee maker. Greg, if your iPhone is dying, that coffee maker has three charging ports in the back. Oh, and make sure you rinse out the bowl really well after you pee. We’re having spaghetti tonight and we have to boil the pasta somewhere.”
I suppose I could dip my toe into the camper waters by renting one. Sites like Outdoorsy and Cruise America offer rentals with tempting incentives like “ONE WAY SPECIALS!” I assume that’s for people who, upon realizing camping was a horrible idea, ditch their vehicles in Walmart parking lots, book plane tickets back home and start contemplating cruise vacations.
So, a camping trip will never become part of my bucket list, although I wouldn’t be averse to joining a camper owner for a few days on our nation’s highways. As long as said owner was at the wheel any time reversing the vehicle was necessary. Oh, and he gets to empty the toilet/home beer brewery/fish tank.
I’ll be in the back, sipping a stolen cabernet.
(Greg Schwem is a corporate stand-up comedian and author of two books: “Text Me If You’re Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad” and the recently released “The Road To Success Goes Through the Salad Bar: A Pile of BS From a Corporate Comedian,” available at Amazon.com. Visit Greg on the web at www.gregschwem.com.)
©2022 Greg Schwem. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.