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Room for Squares
by Philip Wong on Jul 25, 2008
This past weekend, I took the opportunity afforded me by an open calendar to leave the hustle and bustle of the city, if only for a momentary respite from the month long gloom of our overcast summer. A few friends and I hitched up our wagon and headed to the relative quiet of the Saratoga Springs for my first experience with a type of camping that’s altogether different than to what we’re accustomed.
A much wiser, older gentleman friend of mine warned me that all gay men hate camping. One look at Castro Street on any given Sunday will tell you that this guy is off his rocker. Gay men love to camp the way straight men love to scratch their balls. Just put any homosexual worth his salt next to an open flame and sparks will start flying in all directions. I thought to myself, “Is he kidding? We love singing, dancing, acting, performing. Has this guy never been to Trannyshack? We can do everything and the kitsch-en sink.”
And then it sunk in. He wasn’t talking about the camp of a smoky cabaret nightclub in Berlin. He was speaking about the type of camping the requires you to be one with nature, to be comfortable roughing it, not in the squalor of a dimly lit nightclub alleyway, but in the dirt of sleeping bags, canvas tents and insect repellant. You know, running creeks, falling leaves, tranquility, all that good stuff. Why would anybody hate that?
My friend proceeded to list the atrocities he had experienced. By the end of our conversation, I had been subjected to countless stories about the various hardships of a night spent under the stars. The cold, for one. And the constant threat of wasps, for another. Unperturbed, I decided to brave the difficulties. “Cold,” I said, “is a symptom of loneliness with which I am familiar. And wasps...bah! I’ve been to the Marina, they’re not so bad.”
I couldn’t blame him for trying to convince me that I’d hate it. After all, there are at least a million reasons to explain how someone might arrive at the conclusion that gay men and nature don’t mix. For starters, it’s no secret that we city dwellers are notorious for being clueless about the natural habitats surrounding us. We obviously don’t live near the country, and many of us probably wouldn’t be able to tell poison oak from ivy. But that ignorance alone shouldn’t prevent us from being able to appreciate the pleasures of the simple life up close. Or perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps it condemns us to being nature hating freaks.
Traditionally, camping has been viewed as a more rugged past time reserved for the brave and the strong. Or at least that’s how it’s always been portrayed. I guess that makes sense. Among some of the things that you have to do without in the woods are electricity, running water, indoor plumbing...I mean, what’s a queen to do and where’s a queen to go when it comes time for his nightly beauty regimen? Eye brow contouring and facial exfoliating are hard enough with a bathroom mirror and sink. Can you even imagine what a nightmare it’d be to have to squeeze out blackheads in the dark?
No. My much wiser, older gentleman friend was right. Gay men don’t belong in the woods. A day without a full length mirror and we’d sooner wear lesbian flannel than reenter civilization. Ten minutes spent pitching a tent in the dirt means 3 extra trips to Mai Ling at Happy Nails. So, even though I came away from my trip unscathed, we should all forget about any further trips to gather logs and firewood. Apparently, the only wood we like sitting on is the kind that won’t give us splinters.
by Philip Wong on Jul 25, 2008