A Gig in a State Forest

Talk about having to tell jokes over the sound of a bratty noisy generator. That darn thing was whirring impolitely in the distance while I was telling my best new jokes. It was worse than a heckler. It was mocking me with an incessant whine. It was our annual family and friends outing and everyone expected me to be in my usual good form. I had saved a few news ones just for the occasion. There is always just the right time.

The trip was uneventful, which is always a good thing. No rain, no bugs, no bears. We hadn’t forgotten any essentials like toilet paper or utensils. We have a favorite campsite with amenities like bathrooms, running water, and if you need it, some shelter. We were roughing it, however, and created our own mini environment of sleeping bags and tents. It was a perfect paradise of our own making in a totally non-threatening wilderness.

The food we planned was superior – far better than the usual hot dog fare. We were cooking top grade steaks over the fire, s’mores, baked beans seasoned just right, and lots of cold soda and great beer. It was nature’s heaven. We kept the ice chest nearby. The kids were roaming about happily while the adults congregated to catch up. There are wonderful memories in the making, but it would have been even better if we could have heard ourselves speak!

Story time is a ritual, especially for the young ones who remember last year. We had gotten through a few mildly scary ones (told by Uncle James) and it was my turn. I tried a few jokes with some good success, and had a final volley in store when the generator started to whine like a cat in heat. My punch line drifted unheard into the air. It wasn’t that people weren’t listening. Some were waiting with bated breath. It was that darn machine upstaging me in my big moment. If I’d bought My Gen Set along, then I wouldn’t have been fighting over the noise of the old rattler that Uncle James bought with him. OK, the family has heard me before, but it is part of the traditional and we all look forward to my wit.

It isn’t even that big or imposing. Just there grabbing attention. OK, it’s not that new but why the yowling. Is it hungry for fuel? I guess we hadn’t thought of everything when we packed. An oil can is probably sitting by its lonely self in the garage. There is certainly no general store nearby. We looked for some fellow campers within walking distance to no avail. Already way too much time and energy were focused on the problem.

Why did we bring the thing anyway? 50 pounds of menace. I guess roughing it means different things to different people. We like our lights at night to scare away the critters and keep us safe and secure. They also let us see hours before bedtime so the time isn’t wasted. We can find things, cook, and enjoy the fire without squinting. I guess it will be a fixture next year—but well oiled.