When days grow long and hot, Mrs. Henry’s small apartment terrace with view of rosemary, basil, and the neighborhood flasher no longer satisfies her cravings for nature. She becomes consumed by urges to strike off into the great outdoors. To Mr. Henry’s recurrent horror, each and every summer she takes the family camping.
She approaches this activity with jaw set in grim determination. Each task becomes an emergency that requires Mr. Henry’s immediate attention. When he spies the camping face, he tries to follow the only prudent course:
But inevitably he is found. Despite absolutely refusing to ever go camping again no matter what, he packs his hiking boots, UV-protectant shirt, wide-brimmed hat, and all the sport socks on the closet shelf. To lure him this year, Mrs. Henry bought an outdoor French press coffee pot. Was this sufficient inducement for the endurance trial that lay ahead?
Preparations are beyond scientific. Weight and space are carefully measured even though during the trip Mr. Henry will be piloting a borrowed SUV. Tea bags are counted out and placed, like everything else, in separate plastic baggies. Moonshots have taken along more serendipitous items than the Henrys take to Yellowstone.
Weeks before the baleful excursion, Mrs. Henry has shipped the tent and sleeping bags to Wyoming via UPS Ground. On the eve of departure, at Albertson’s in Jackson Hole Mr. Henry tries to add spice to their zero-gravity diet by throwing a single package of Cajun bratwurst into the cart, but he is reprimanded. At base camp in Moose, she stews up a vat of Mr. Henry’s least favorite meal – chicken noodle soup – and counts out the ladlefuls into a great wiggly plastic baggie. (Whoever said that chicken soup can’t hurt? The stuff is revolting.)
On the fateful morning of departure, however, he manages to squirrel away two beers under the ice in the mini-cooler. He grabs his pillow, too, masking its presence by cruelly binding it up with twine and hiding it in a trash bag under the driver’s seat.
Before pulling out of the driveway, Mr. Henry begins to miss his treasured bed. Is not the bed the greatest invention of man? The pop-up toaster runs a distant second.