{ Dog. Pants. Now. }

 I do not believe in the great outdoors.  I do not hike.  I do not fish. I do not camp.  My idea of "roughing it" is a hotel with less than adequate room and towel service.  I do not find anything morally superior about sleeping in the dirt and washing with water that may or may not look like one of those microscope slides from high school biology. Nor am I interested in knowing what color one's boogers can become depending on what is burned in the campfire.  As far as I can tell, "outdoorsy" is just a one word phrase for "let's pretend we're homeless - only with bears and mosquitoes."

When I got married I found out that my in-laws did believe in the great outdoors.  They kept making reference to vaguely planned, upcoming family camping trips as though they expected me to say "Super.  I keep my hip waders in the car.  Just let me grab my Survivor Man jammies and we're off.  By the way, don't bother bringing toilet paper - I'm cool with leaves and grass." I promised them one camping trip.  Ever.  So far I've done two - and that was only because I really wanted the S'mores.

I am pretty much the only one on my husband's side of the family that scrunches up their nose at the thought of sleeping bags and backpacks.  My father-in-law (who is 72 by the way) goes snow camping with the church scouting group... in the snow.  (Seriously.  I didn't even know that this was a thing until I met my father-in-law.  They sleep in full on igloos...which they build out of snow.  Crazy talk.)  My husband's sister and her family go on week long hunting trips ... with guns and shooting and camo undies.  My brother-in-law loves to talk about what he's killed, what he's almost killed, what he thinks he may have killed,  and what he'd like to kill if given the chance.  He also likes to talk about killing accessories.  Knives.  Guns.  Trucks.  Dogs. Sons.

I have to admit that I feel somewhat conflicted when I listen to these stories.  My father was quite the hunter/gun enthusiast . You wouldn't think that a guy in an electric wheelchair with a bleeding disorder would be your first choice as a point man when trying to sneak up on a wild animal while holding a gun, but we need to break barriers where we can I guess.  Also, I'm a big fan of eating meat.  However, I'm pretty sure that if I had to kill the meat myself, you'd be looking at the world's newest vegetarian.   I'm just not sure that I'm totally on board with sentences that start "It was the most beautiful animal I'd ever seen..." and end with "... and so I shot it."  (You can imagine what it's like to share this opinion while sitting in a room with a giant, furry, once-real bear mounted to the wall.  A bear.)

Even though the subject matter isn't my favorite, I do like my brother-in-law... and since he doesn't run screaming from the room while gouging out his eyes when I breastfeed my baby during family game time, I feel like I should be a little flexible.  His latest story was about a duck hunt that had happened a few weeks ago.  I have to admit that I was half-listening to him, half-watching the TV, half-trying to figure out why my boys were being so quiet and half-trying to figure out how I was going to get the Christmas presents wrapped  in one night.  There was something about a duck in a bush and really cold water and his dog is a genius.  My ears grabbed onto the part about the dog.

From what I could tell, after being blasted from flight, the duck dropped into a bush and my brother-in -law (who was standing in the cold water) said to the dog "dead bird".  (A little gross, but there you go.)  Dog the Genius then ran down a hill, under a fence, across a field, and picked up the bird in his mouth.  (Also a little gross.  Although, I guess that when I eat a cheeseburger I too have a dead animal in my mouth. Hmmm.)  Then, (with the dead bird in his mouth), the dog returned across the field, under the fence and up the hill where he sat down next to my brother-in-law, put his head against my brother-in-law's leg and at the command "my bird", dropped the dead bird into my brother-in-law's hand.  Again, a little gross, but you've got to admit, impressive.

While listening to my brother-in-law's braggyness about his dog, a memory of a long-ago Nordstrom shopping trip popped into my head.  I came into the store, child sitting in the stroller, when I was suddenly surrounded by a cloud of very smelly, yet very expensive, perfume.  In an attempt to clear my nose... and vision,  I temporarily, but vigorously shook my head back and forth thus taking my eyes off of my son.  The 2 year old seized on my distraction, jumped out of the stroller and sprinted to freedom.  (I think the perfume sprayer lady may have been his accomplice.  It seemed like a pretty seamless plan to me.)  He made it to the end of the aisle, slid on his belly across the marble floor and army crawled under a rounder of very ugly, yet very expensive jeans.  Bird in a bush.

In my mind I pictured myself yelling out "dead kid" and then standing back and watching with great satisfaction while a very well trained hunting dog comes bounding down the escalator, knocking middle aged white women aside, heading straight for my son.  I picture him flattening his body, easily fitting under the jeans and grabbing my child by the seat of his pants, dragging him from his strategic position.  The dog would then knock down the perfume lady as payback and drop the little escapee back in the stroller.  Good dog.

As it was, that particular shopping trip ended with crying and threatening and staring and judging and me on my belly (less successful at fitting under the jeans than the dog would be) and my son being really glad that Nordstrom has security cameras.

It is clear to me now, thanks to my brother-in-law, that there is an easy solution to just such parenting dilemmas.  It is clear to me that what I really need to be a more effective parent is not more love or patience or organization or discipline.  What I really need is a really good hunting dog.  Besides patrolling the perimeter on shopping trips, all I need him to do is identify which kid started the most recent Christmas vacation fight, retrieve Nerf missiles from the neighbor's yard and make sure that the dirty diapers make it to the garbage.  This seems like it would be a lot easier, and less gross, than finding a dead duck in a far away bush.  I'm pretty sure that some dog will want this job.  Maybe I'll check Craigslist, or maybe I'll just yell "dead kid" really loud and wait for him to come to me.  Good Dog.

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The Laundry Queen said...

"Dead kid!" Har! Let me know how that waiting goes. ; )

Oh, and I apologize that I have still been unable to resurrect the "Dueling Baptists". I don't exactly live in the land of diversity.... A move is in order. Soon. It's killing me!

mrs. olson said...

I just told our good friends that I don't like the outdoors. They couldn't believe it and promised me a great camping trip this next summer. No thanks!!

grammy said...

Remember when we used to go "camping"? My sister came along to set up the tent! She is also the sister who went hunting with your dad and following the successful bagging of a stinky antelope, she volunteered to you dad (since neither of them knew who to gut the animal), "if you cut it open, I'll scoop it out"! I don't want a dog and I don't want to go hunting. Pedicure and a spa day for me!

Chelly said...

Love. It. :o)
*scratches head whilst trying to figure out how three halves make a whole* One half + one half + one half.... Hmmmmmmm. Durn! Mebee I need to spend some time out in dem dere wuds. Dead math skills! *waits*

e. said...

Actually - I was trying to do 4 half tasks - I call it fuzzy math.

Loralee and the gang... said...

I totally get when you what you said about eating what you kill. We raise beef, well, my husband does, if you want to get technical, so I stay away because I want to eat the meat and I can't eat an animal that I know. Same reason that IF we happen to name any of the said steers, it's always Sir Loin, or Beef Cake, or some such that will remind us of what is to be. So, understand ya there...