Monday, February 11, 2008

Sub Zero

NOTE: The "Embrace the Wonder" series features excerpts from a collaborative book/music project in progress. John Droese is the main author. However, there are other contributors whose stories would also be featured in this category...

I have always wanted to write a book but the fear of failure keeps me out of the game. Every time I show someone one of my stories, the slightest, not-so-favorable, comment can send me running to the backyard to bury my work… far out of the world’s view. Anyway, I have a good job that pays the bills. If I save my money wisely, I think I can retire early and then really start living. Who says 55 or 60 is too late to start enjoying life? Well, I guess maybe those people who only live to be 54. There is no time for thinking about this stuff now. There is a more pressing issue at hand.

I’m going camping. My friend Tony and I drive to (Flagstaff, Arizona) from (Miami, Florida), hoping to escape the routine of life for a little while. As we make our way through route 517, we see deep secluded woods on both sides of the road. I tell Tony to pull off so that we could try and find a place to set up camp. Pointing to patches of snow on the ground, Tony asks, “John, you think it gets cold around here at night?”
“No way Man!” I reply. It’s like 75 degrees.” Seeing the look of concern on his face, I add, “Don’t worry about it.”
“I don’t know about this John,” he complains.
“Look, it’s March, winter is over!” I state. (Spoken like a true Miami boy where to me, winter was officially from December 25th to January 2nd or something like that.“)
John we are pretty far out here in the woods,” says Tony. “You mean you’re not afraid of some wild animal dragging you off into the dark?”
“Don’t be a wuss, we are men! We fear nothing” I reply. (Now, I don’t really know if my words actually eased his mind; but, we set up the tent anyway and get ready for nightfall).
As darkness creeps in, I feel a chill in the air; but I’m not worried about it. I roll out my sleeping bag. I had bought it at the Salvation Army for two dollars just for this trip. It has definitely seen better days! I look over at Tony and he is busy fluffing up a pillow and spreading out a thin blanket.

“Tony, what are you doing? Where is your sleeping bag?”
“Aw John, I don’t have one.” He replies. “I think this blanket will do the trick.”

Outside, the tent is now smothered in a black veil. Growing up in the city, I never knew it could ever get this dark. I take a moment to look up at the sky and comment loudly to Tony, “Man, there sure are a lot of stars.” But this moment is short lived as Tony yells from inside the tent.
“John! It’s kind of getting cold, don’t you think?” (He was right. It was cold and seemed to be getting colder by the second).“Tony” I say, trying to sound unfazed by the situation. “Let’s just sleep in our clothes. I don’t think it will be a problem.” To me, this is a good, so I climb into my sleeping bag and Tony tucks himself into his blanket, wearing (jeans, a shirt, a sweat shirt a leather jacket with his socks and shoes on). Soon, it starts to get really cold. We grab our denim jackets and wrap them around our heads.

From my corner of our tent, I could hear Tony shivering. “Hey, let’s try and get some sleep. Just close your eyes; next thing you know we’ll wake up and this will all be over.”
Under his breath, I hear him say “Yeah right.” I must have drifted off, because suddenly, a rustling in the tent startles me. I open my eyes(not quite sure if I’m awake or still asleep and dreaming). Then I hear the zip, zip, zip, of the tent’s zipper opening, followed by Tony, who is heading for the exit.

“Tony where are you going?”
“Screw this! I’m getting in the car and turning on the friggin’ heat.”
“Come on man, don’t leave me here alone to be dragged off by some crazy animal” I plead jokingly.
“John, I thought you were not afraid of anything” he snaps. Now I wish I hadn’t been so smug earlier. Tony disappears into the night and moments later, I hear his car engine roaring to life. I attempt to get up and realize that my body is numb. Without even trying to get out of my sleeping bag, I get on my feet and hop out of the tent all the way into the car. It takes a couple minutes for the heat to start blowing.

“I’m only going to keep it on for about 15 minutes; just to warm up and then I’ll turn it off” says Tony. I nod. Next thing I know, I’m waking up; the sun is shinning, Tony is sleeping; the car is still running!

Well, we survived! We went camping to experience the wonders of the great outdoors and ended up sleeping in the car. However, I learned a valuable lesson…

Our greatest achievements can make for great stories, but our failures can make for even better ones. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s okay to fail as long as you never stop trying.

When I get home, I think I’ll go out back to dig up a few of my stories and show them around. I’ll just have to make sure that there’s a car with a good heater near by just in case I get a chilly response-;)

1 comment:

Rosie said...

Ah men, this is some funny stuff. Come to North Dakota. The guys here will not only show you how to camp in 10 below, they will make you love ice-fishing in 40 below. Trust me. I've tried it. And I'm a girl. (I've also tried pheasant hunting, deer hunting, cutting up and cooking...Goodness, I am turning butch)

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