It turns out that I am not good at posting consistently. I do my share of personal writing, so sometimes I run out of writing juice. But, as I watched from my campsite in Land Between the Lakes in Tennessee, holy hell, did my neighbors give me plenty to write about.
Night 1-Gaitlin Point
There was a group of young bucks next to me. When they pulled up, I knew I picked the wrong spot because one of the women got out and told her boyfriend , in her best inside voice, to “shut the fuck up.”
At one point, I watched the birthday boy pull out a hatchet from the back of his lifted Chevy and take down a 15’ tree with green leaves on it. For desired effect, he needed to remove his shirt for it and show off all of his tattoos—which looked more like a series of badly coordinated stamps that a first grade teacher would use. The poor tree was green as a tree could get but, bless its heart, its life was over. He spent the next thirty minutes stripping the branches off and separating the leaves from the trunk.
Once Prometheus stripped everything down to his liking, he pulled out his flint and started striking it to the light fire. Now, I will admit I was hard on the boy and doubted his ability to get this to work. Mostly because I just saw him cut down a live tree for firewood, so my confidence in his ability to gather kindle and tinder were overwhelmingly low, but, after five minutes, he had a small fire going.
See you’re just being an ass.
And just when I completed that thought he dumped an arm’s full of green leaves on to the fire.
No, you were right. I apologize.
I am still trying to sort out which is more shocking: the act of dumping green leaves onto the fire or the fact that he was surprised when the fire went out.
His buddy asked if he could give it a shot.
For those of you who don’t know, these are the worst words you could hear when trying to build a fire as a man. I am speaking from experience. Especially, if you know that person can build it better than you. I once (read: recently) spent an entire summer practicing building fires because I was so inconsistent at it that I couldn’t stand the “can I try” moment.
His buddy moves some stuff around. Everyone has their own style. He removed the cigarette from his mouth and kissed some kindling with it. Boom, the fire takes off! Well done. Unfortunately, Prometheus came charging over to help his friend out with another wet blanket of green leaves. Oh, no—it went out, again! Who knew?
They spent their night next to a smoldering smoke pot. To get the right effect though, one of the boys placed his headlamp at his feet pointed up.
Night 2-Sugar Bay
First off, what a great name. I can just hear a sweet woman with a southern sway suggesting it for a late night swim surrounded by cicaidas and stars.
Reality sets in and it’s not a sweet southern woman sauntering through the campsite but more young bucks, military type, grunting and telling everyone that they’re “C-I-D, Baby!”
So, to save me the time and effort basically take the story from above but instead of building a fire they’re trying to pick up women.
After a leisurely swim, I watched the sunset for a bit and decided to set up my tent. As far as I could tell, my spot wasn’t an actual site but someone built a fire there before and it was surrounded by two converging creeks which were filled with a variety of frogs. It was also a popular spot for the local skunks, which I found out when I woke up from a terrifying and random dream that I got sprayed by a skunk. This dream recurred several times throughout the night and every time I would wake up to the indescribable rankness of a lone striped night stalker.
In the morning though, the smell was so strong I was convinced that the dream was real and I did get sprayed by a skunk. I laughed at my bad luck (for the record: getting sprayed by a skunk is beyond “bad luck”) and hoped that I was wrong. I decided the surefire way to know would be to take another dip in the lake, so I did. No funk. No skunk (spray).