Light the lamp and fire mellow,
Cabin essence timely hello,
Welcomes the time for a change.
—"Cabin Essence," Brian Wilson
This is a continuation of last week's story. Names are changed, apart from my own.
We arrived at the eponymous cabin of last week's post and all slept the short night away, and we woke the next day for breakfast. I got up early with my friend Joe to make the first meal of the trip. There were going to be 5 meals total this trip cooked in the cabin, and with ten campers, we put two people in charge of each meal. Joe and I had first breakfast, and we had arranged to make pancakes.
Now, here is how pancakes go in my house. You make them from scratch so they fluff up nice and big and taste all buttery and delicious. And then—this is important—you cut up fruit and put the fruit on the pancakes with honey and they are awesome. The end.
So Joe and I slave away over these pancakes, and it is hard because (1) we can't really use water to cook or clean, since water that goes down the drain will freeze in the pipes and explode them (2) we have pretty small pans and have to make them one at a time, so trying to make enough for 10 quickly enough to keep them from getting cold by the time they're done is tricky and (3) everyone else is watching The Hangover on the TV we shouldn't have brought, according to only me, and I am going up the wall because who goes out to a cabin by the lake to watch "The Hangover" on a television that you brought up from the city?
When it comes time to eat pancakes, everyone's natural reaction to the pancakes is "These are great. Can I get some syrup to go with them?" I have not brought syrup. Joe hasn't brought syrup. I decide to play this as a joke and get fake-angry about it: "There is no syrup. You will eat your pancakes with fruit and honey and you will like it." I naturally congratulated myself as an accomplished comedian and left it at that.
I found out after the trip was over that instead of thinking this was funny, most people's reaction was essentially, "Oh, James is thoroughly ticked off right now; I'm going to eat these pancakes and not bother him about the syrup thing." So, evidently, my latent hostility over the television thing came through. As well it should have.
I think my hostility was probably a combination of there being a television and the fact that we watched a series of movies I found unpleasant, starting with The Hangover and continuing with things like Mama Mia and, I want to say, the Sex and the City movie? I don't know. Very little of quality or substance, anyway, and we were all ten of us stuck in this single room where you couldn't get away from the sound of the TV anywhere unless you went outside, which was very cold due to being February in northern Michigan. So I was hostile.
It took me a while to get over this, settle down, and have a good weekend, but eventually I did. We ate good food, gossiped about our colleagues, went into town for a nice dinner and sightseeing, played games, listened to music and sang, and just generally had a good time. I even got a surprise birthday cake, because it was my birthday. (The birthday cake got flipped on the floor in some drunken revelry late at night that I was not privvy to—because I choose not to be privvy to drunken revelry—but that was after I ate my piece, so I was okay with it. It was a nice thought.) It ended up being an unforgettably great trip, and I'm thoroughly glad I went on it. Some highlights:
- Introducing folks to "Settlers of Catan," a really great board game that I love.
- Making a chessboard with paper and pencil to play chess on with Joe late one evening.
- Having listened to hip-hop loudly for several hours on end, finally snapping and literally telling the kids to turn off the darn rap music, thus ensuring that I was mentally labeled "hip-hop-hater" in everyone's mind, thereby producing surprise when I played hip-hop on the ride home, and everyone was all "James is this your music?" and I was all "Yes! Hip-hop is fine in small doses when you're not all stuck together in a tiny cabin for days on end! But in that case, yes, hip-hop makes me angry," and Joe was all "I think hip-hop is supposed to make you angry" and it was cool for him to say that, because he's black. He's also really into hip-hop, so it was a completely valid artistic statement about hip-hop, as far as I'm concerned. (Hip-hop: in this case, you succeeded. I was angry. Nice work.)
- There was this cool old analog radio with FM and AM dials and then some other wacky dial that let you pick up international stations. It was rad.
- Helping Don put a hole in the ice of Lake Michigan with a giant ice pick so we could have water for the toilet and cooking and not have to poop in the woods/starve.