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The Cameron Column # 103 

A FREE Internet Newsletter sleeplessly brought to you by W. Bruce Cameron 

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Take a Hike
Copyright 1999 W. Bruce Cameron http://www.wbrucecameron.com

=====> Please do NOT remove the legal copyright from this essay! <=====

Don't you hate it when you're just getting into your "productive zone" and
a family member interrupts with some fool project that threatens to derail
your whole day?

Case in point:  This weekend I'm settling into my chair, a pristine bag of
taco chips nestled under my arm like a newborn baby.  In my lap the TV
listings reveal an entire day of sporting events (including Ukrainian
Woman's Body Building, which I never miss), while to my right is a beer,
glistening with dew and shimmering with promise.  Then my wife bursts into
the room and begins to wax irrational.

"I want to go on a family hike," she proclaims.

I nod encouragingly.  "Then you should go.  I'm sure there are plenty of
families who would love to accompany you."

"I mean us."

"Why a hike?" I demand.  "Don't they have a web site for that?"

My children are equally astounded, but, like any responsible parent, I've
decided to present them with a unified front.  "Your mother is crazy," I
explain.  "We'd better do what she says."

"But I have plans for the weekend!" my oldest daughter howls.  "Why do I
have to go?"

"Well, you ARE technically part of the family," I observe.  "Pretend you're
walking at the mall."

"You are ruining my whole life," she snaps.  (I don't tell her what having
two teenagers has done to mine.)

My other daughter tries a different approach.

"Can Brittany come along?"


"How about Whitney?"





"Is Greta the one I like?"


"Then no."

The family packs as if we're never coming back.  Everyone is carrying
enough water to wash the car.  Our backpacks bulge with extra clothing
suitable for both a day on a dog sled and an afternoon of beach volleyball.

After carefully applying makeup, my 17-year-old daughter troops out in a
skin-tight blouse that looks like it came right off the rack at "Babes R
Us."  Maybe she's hoping we'll encounter a cleavage contest.  "What do you
think, we're going to run into boys on this trip?" I demand.  Her response
is an insolent toss of the hair that makes me wish I had some
sheep-shearing tools in the garage.  

"Put on something less...mammalian," I tell her.

"Why?" she jeers.  "Do you think we're going to run into boys on this trip?"

My son wants to know why he can't take his hamster.  "Because all pets have
to be kept on a leash," I explain.

"I WILL keep him on a leash!" he promises eagerly.

An hour later we're at the base of a hill.  "This is crazy," I tell my wife
supportively.  "Why couldn't we pick a downhill path?"

"It will be downhill on the way back," she says, as if this makes any sense.

I cast a look at my kids.  My eleven-year-old is carrying a walking stick
and wearing ski goggles -- he looks like a sherpa.  My youngest daughter is
plugged into CD headphones; my oldest is talking on the cell phone.  "We're
coming up on a big, big rock," she reports.  "No, wait, that's my dad's butt."

For some reason this strikes my wife as funny, and she begins what will
turn out to be two straight hours of giggling.

I step into a mucky bog and my shoe is sucked right off.  "Hey!  The trail
is eating my feet!" I protest.  Only my son stops to help.  He has changed
into a hockey helmet.  I frown.  "Where'd you get that?" I ask.

"In your backpack, under the ant farm."

"You brought your ant farm?  Why?"

"Because I couldn't bring my hamster," he explains logically.

After we've hiked across a couple of time zones, my knees begin muttering
to themselves about the ordeal.  "We need to take a break, I'm bleeding
internally!" I call out.  I'm ignored.

I'd still be up there if it weren't for a sudden storm (shows what happens
when you send your prayers marked "urgent").  My son pulls umbrellas from
my backpack and we run down the hill.

"That was a once-in-a-lifetime, never-again experience," I announce as I
start the car.

My wife, gazing out the window, pretends she doesn't understand the
significance of my phrasing.  


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