When I was young, I spent a lot of time in the woods. I lived in semi-rural Illinois, and so there were a lot of woods to be had. It wasn’t like Siberia or anything, with 5,000 miles of trees separating every couple of vodka-swilling drunks, but pretty much everywhere you looked, there was at least a small grove of trees, and as kids who lived in an era that didn’t have video games, they served as the backdrop for a large portion of our youth. We explored the woods, built tree-houses in them, and later on, in our teenage years, we used them as cover to get higher than Jesus. Man, did we like getting high in the woods.
Soon, however, we realized that although the woods offered good cover for our illegal activities, once that cover was blown they tended to amplify our misdeeds. There are only so many reasons to be in the woods, after all, and none of them involve laughing so hard that you piss yourself. And so the search was on for a legitimate reason to be in the woods for hours at a time. This was when we came up with the brilliant idea of bringing a tent with us.
The logic was solid: If anyone happened by, we could claim that we were either camping or trying out a new tent. Thoroughly impressed by our outdoorsy can-do spirit, the interloper would wish us well and wander off, allowing us to get back to smoking bongs filled with pond-water. (Yeah, that’s something we did. More than once. Way more than once.)
The first problem was that tents back then weren’t the easily assembled tents that we have today. This is the tent that we should have had:
Unfortunately, the tent we had came with instructions that looked like this:
Which was bad enough all by itself, but we had the notable handicap of having smoked enough pot to cripple a wooly mammoth and so a lot of the time the tent sat there on the ground while we stood around and just discussed assembling it.
Me: Holy shit, how are going to put this fucking thing together? It’s got pieces even tinier than Dan’s dick!
Dan: Haha, very funny. You want me to pour some more pond/bong water over your head?
Curt: Don’t start with that shit again! That shit reeks! Yesterday my mom asked me why my jeans were all wet and what the weird smell was.
Dan: Probably all that K-Y Jelly, huh?
Curt: Yeah, well your mom isn’t so moist ever since she turned 120. I gotta use something!
Me: And return serve!
Dan: Hey, who wants to smoke some more pot?
(20 minutes later)
Me: What are we going to do about this tent?
Curt & Dan: What tent?
It’s a minor miracle that the thing ever got put together, but somehow it did which is when we discovered two important things. First of all, tents tend to attract Boy Scout Troop Leaders. Or at least they attract the one Boy Scout Troop Leader that scared the shit out of us late one afternoon while we were giggling over God knows what.
From his perspective, here’s what he would have seen: Three guys, smoking cigarettes next to a tent in the woods, laughing themselves stupid when all of a sudden one of them says, “Shit! SHIT! SOMEONE’S COMING!” and then another one of them starts violently thrusting things down the front of his pants while the other two fling themselves into the tent. I was one of the guys jumping into the tent, although I have no idea what I thought that was going to accomplish. Maybe I thought that if I was lucky it would turn out to be a portal to a magical kingdom where I could buy a pizza.
“Say, fellas! You guys setting up your tent?” The guy seemed genuinely excited to see fellow tent enthusiasts which weirded me out in a major way. We spent the next 15 or so minutes fending off his increasingly confusing camping-related questions (“Is that a taut-line hitch?”; “You guys know this is practically my back yard, right?”; “Why are you all wet, and what is that weird smell?”)
Finally, my friend Curt said, “Well, like I said we were just trying out our new tent. See ya!” And he grabbed the tent, yanked it out of the ground, and just stormed off through the trees, trailing a still assembled, but increasingly falling apart tent behind him. In retrospect that kind of behavior probably seemed a little suspicious.
The other thing we learned (and we were very lucky to have not learned this lesson at the same time the Boy Scout Troop Leader accosted us) was that if you actually got inside the tent it became a barrier between yourself and reality so effective that an entire police force could assemble outside the tent without you ever knowing about it. Luckily, it was a friend of ours who happened upon us, and not someone with the authority to arrest us, or worse yet, call our parents.
Mike: Jesus! Do you have any idea how fucking obvious you guys are?
Mike: First of all, as soon as you get anywhere near here, all you can hear is you guys laughing…
Mike: …and in case the people who are coming to arrest you are deaf, the constant flicker of the lighter helpfully turns this whole tent into a giant fucking strobe light…
Mike: …you can smell the pot from 50 yards away…
Mike: …and you see the vent at the top of the tent? It looks like a chimney on a house that is currently on fire! It’s, like, BILLOWING pot smoke!
Mike: You guys got any left?
So we learned to have the tent nearby, but not go into it. Unless we thought that was a good idea, which after a few bowls, we invariably did. In fact, we didn’t even get out of the tent after Mike had warned us about how obvious we were being. We stayed in there, smoking pot for quite a while longer until we heard something moving outside the tent, which turned out to be Mike’s dog, Bill.
We found this to be a very amusing turn of events until we realized that Mike’s mom had been walking Bill when he apparently caught Mike’s scent and decided to go say hi, and Mike’s mom was calling out for the dog and struggling through the woods trying to find Bill. It became apparent that if we didn’t Do Something about this, she was going to find something a whole lot different than the dog.
So Mike just started running like hell, which caused Bill to run after him, barking excitedly. This drew Mike’s mom away but left us in a state of confusion. Should we run as well? Or should we stay in the tent, getting high? There were pros and cons to both plans, honestly.
Forty-five minutes later, as we sat in the tent getting high, Mike returned. He had run all the way home, Bill barking excitedly beside him the whole way. When he got home, he tied Bill up outside and then to avoid running into his mom, took an extremely long, and circuitous route back to the tent. I believe at one point he was actually North of the Arctic Circle.
Me: Wait, so you tied Bill up in the back yard?
Mike: Yeah. So?
Me: So what’s your mom going to make of that? That Bill was out on a walk and decided that he’d rather be in the back yard so he hauled ass home and then tied himself up?
Mike: Oh, shit. I never thought of that!
Mike: Well, look at you assholes! You’re on the verge of getting busted and you elect to stay inside this deep woods clambake shelter and get more stoned? You guys are fucking retarded!
Me: Maybe, but we’re not going to have to explain our dog’s magical powers when we get home.
I’m sure we stayed in the tent for an hour or two longer after that.
Ultimately, we got tired of reassembling the tent and found what we considered to be a remote location and just left it there one night. When we came back a few days later, it had been shredded by wolverines or something. We didn’t care, as we still had an excuse to be out there. “Who, us? What are we doing out here? Well, officer, I was just showing my friends my new tent, but apparently some wild animal has ripped it to pieces. What’s that? Why do my jeans smell funny?”
Anyway, on to today’s video lesson, which is How To Assemble A Tent starring Official Dogs on Drugs European Correspondents Horst and Sven.
Step One: Ingest a LOT of drugs
Step Two: Assemble tent