Twitfall is about personal experiences with Twits, and stupidity in general. Today is the first of several posts about camping trip with my father many years ago. There’s plenty of foolishness in there- just mostly my own. My father’s been dead a year now, in the end his life took a horrible toll on his health, but I choose to remember him back when I believed he was he was wise beyond measure and invincible. I still believe the former, I’m sad there wasn’t truth in the latter. I was thirteen, and I imagine not very good company- not that I knew it at the time. Samuel Clemens once said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” So when he offered to take me camping for a weekend, I didn’t realize what a sacrifice he was making- of course looking back, neither did he…

Men camping

The plan was to drive up to a mountain lake way out in the middle of nowhere. This was going to be a manly trip- no cabin to stay in, no running water, just nature and two men against the wilderness. Like the early pioneers (provided they had state-of-the-art tents, Coleman lanterns, and carbon fiber fishing rods… Dad was something of a gadgeteer, a habit he pleasantly passed on to me). We packed up an old Ford pickup truck the night before, and went to bed early. I was excited about the trip, had trouble getting to sleep. Who the hell goes to bed at 8pm anyway? Not a teenage boy who just discovered a new issue of Penthouse discarded behind 7-11. It’s amazing all the true stories they had printed in the “Forum” section!

I’ll tell you who goes to bed early. People who are getting up at 4am on Saturday. At 4am it was still dark. Not crack of dawn, not early morning- pitch black eclipse underground can’t find your ass with both hands and a mirror dark. That quiet time of night when the silence is so prevalent it’s loud. At least it was, until Dad kicked open the door and bellowed “Drop your cock and grab your socks, it’s time to hit the road!”

Years later I’d laugh at the drill instructor who threw a trashcan down the barracks aisle and yelled, “Wake the hell up maggots!”, because after this incident I was immune to the rude awakening. (Immune to the awakening- but apparently not appreciative of it. I was told I’m like a caged wolverine getting poked with a splintery broomstick before 5am. Whatever that means- I should be off probation by 2010…) I’d like to say I stretched and calmly got out of bed. Of course that wouldn’t be right. You see I’d left said magazine on the nightstand and was naively mortified to think Dad didn’t know I had those magazines and I wasn’t interested in it just for the articles. After his cannoneer like declaration I flailed over for the magazine, and knocked it off the nightstand. My still half asleep animal forebrain said “Catch It!!”, so I dove after it, rolling out of bed, and firmly smacking my forehead on the nightstand.As I rebounded back, I put my foot on the magazine (which by now had hit the floor), and actually managed to bust my ass falling out bed. As I lay there seeing stars, I heard him mumbling in the hallway “We’re burning daylight!”

We pack up some sandwiches, and the old Basset Hound, Vagabond, into the truck. Well that was his official name. When Mom wasn’t around we referred to him as “Bullwhacker”- because he was “penilogically gifted”. Dog had a dick that literally dragged the ground. Lucky bastard- no wonder he had such a good temperament. Didn’t like long walks though. Anyway, we hit great wide open road at 4:17am. We drive a couple of hours, pick up a healthy breakfast (doughnuts, chocolate milk, beef jerky and Gatorade). Bullwhacker looks hungry, so I slip him a doughnut. “Quit feeding that damn dog” Dad solemnly advises. So listening to him as all teenage boys do, I slip him a hardboiled egg from our lunch bag. He still looks hungry, so I slide him another egg. And then it happens. There’s a soft hissing, like air escaping from a tire- then a sharp snap. As I was about to learn, that sound was the gates of Hell that was Vagabond’s asshole slamming shut.

Scientists say that taste and smell are inexplicably linked. That if your sense of smell is somehow affected, your sense of taste would also go. Try eating something while holding your nose and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Even without the previous experiment, I believe this truth unequivocally- because the foul stench that immediately enveloped the pickup cab was so noxious that it had a taste. Sulfer…vinegar…and something tangy- like pineapple. Dad said “Jesus Christ, must have drove past a dead animal!” and closed the FRESH AIR vents. Just as the tears in my eyes started to clear, there it was again. Pssssssst…snap! “Dad, I think it’s the dog…” Pssssst….snap…. pssst….snap …snap…. “Holy crap, roll down the windows son!” Psssst…snap… As we drove past the dairy farms with windows open we were both gasping for air. Dad later remarked that driving past the mountain of cow crap was the best smelling part of the trip. Lesson One, Don’t feed a dog you’re on a long trip with hardboiled eggs.

We finally make it to the lake, and find a suitable site to set up camp. I’m convinced we could have been fined for environmental impact after the baker’s dozen of air biscuits Bullwhacker launched in the pickup cab, so I leave it open, including the pass through between the cab and bed. We unload the truck, and pitch the tent. Dad pounds the stakes in with a 5lb sledge, and even lets me do a couple. Never used to let me handle dangerous tools before- this is a momentous occasion. So of course I smack myself firmly in the ankle. “You okay?” he asks- even though his back was turned. Gritting my teeth, I reply “Sure!” as my ankle throbs. “Good, get in the truck.” he says. “Okay Pop, where we going?” I ask. “Around the lake”, he says, as he loads Bullwhacker into the BACK of the pickup. (Later OSHA regulations required that a dog’s ass to have at least three feet of open space after hardboiled egg consumption.) And then he does something strange. He gets in the passenger side. I’m standing there thinking he’s loopy from the fumes, and I walk over to the driver’s side.“Get in”, he repeats, “You’re driving”

When you’re a teenager, driving is the pinnacle of achievement; you’ve arrived when you can drive. Well at the very least you can drive yourself to your arrival ceremony. I jumped in, and noticed 3 pedals. Gas…brake…mystery pedal- probably the emergency brake, don’t need it. I whipped the key RRRR….kachump. .. screech…thump…BARHAROOOO echoing from the back of the pickup bed. I discovered several things. The mystery pedal is called the clutch. A 52lb Basset at the back of the tailgate can make it to the front of the bed in .34 seconds when the truck lurches forward unexpectedly. He doesn’t like that and may fart in displeasure. After about 15 minutes of patient instruction I understand the concept of the clutch, and I can drive, albeit haltingly around the lake. It went something like “Vrooom….screech…thump…BARHAROOO…pssssst…snap! Vrooom…Vroom….screech”. After about 20 minutes Bullwhacker decided he’d had enough my amateur driving by throwing up, through the pass through window, onto the front seat. Lesson was over for the day, I thought I did great. As we got out of the truck, Dad remarked, “The poor bastard will be wearing his asshole for a collar”. Maybe not so great… Lesson Two- Left pedal clutch, enough gas will get you out of any jam, and leave dog at home during driving lessons. Continued tomorrow.

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"Lawn Chairs Round the Fire, Part 1" by was published on December 15th, 2007 and is listed in Assorted Twits, Cool, Funny, Parents, Stupid Should hurt.

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