I can’t stand sleeping in tents, going on hikes through uncharted territory, or making food over campfires. That campfire smell that sticks to your clothes is high-key one of the worst smells to try and get out in the wash. I hate everything about camping. I hate the vibe that outdoorsy people give off. They’re not super chill, they just smell bad. I hate that disgusting dead fish that you’re holding up on Instagram.
Campers revel in the beauty of the unexplored. I revel in new Apple products and handcrafted leather duffel bags. I find all of the excitement around camping to be incredibly overrated. No cell service. No mattress. No shower. It’s almost like prison.
If I’m outside, it’s to play golf, lie next to a pool, or drink pinot grigio with ice on a patio. That’s pretty much it. Other than that, you can find me inside enjoying premium cable and the comforts that one enjoys living in the 21st century. I’m not a pilgrim. This is 2016.
When I get invited to go camping I usually say no and follow it up with a remark that goes something like this: “There are these places called hotels where you can enjoy amenities like air conditioning, large bathrooms, and complimentary breakfast foods–you should try it out sometime.”
There comes a point in everyone’s childhood when they feel the need to go sleep outdoors in a tent. You’re accompanied by your buddies, some sleeping bags, and illegal fireworks you stole from the garage. I did this once or twice. I’d just go home after the roman candle war subsided to my bed because mosquitoes didn’t live in my childhood bedroom.
Maybe turning 25 is what did it. Maybe I just saw one too many pictures on Instagram of a guy on a ledge looking out onto an expansive forest. Whatever the case, in the last few months I was finding myself searching for premiere camping destinations. I wanted to try it again.
I thought by buying an air mattress my attitude surrounding the entire experience would change. I took a tent from my parents’ house that never gets used. I researched bug spray and hiking boots. I even bought a Coleman brand air mattress that had some really solid reviews. Top of the line stuff from a massive Cabela’s in Michigan. I tested it out in the store. It fit in most tents, it was relatively comfortable, and now all I had to worry about was finding a place to wash my body if I did, in fact, find a spot to go camping. That was probably six months ago.
So fast forward to last week. By this point, I was entertaining the idea of flying out to my buddy’s place in Denver in August. I would come out, equipped with my Coleman air mattress and bug spray, and we would do the whole Walden thing. All of these wonderful plans? They’re now firmly out of the picture.
When I hired a moving company to ship a queen sized bed, a couch, and some clothing to my new apartment nearly fifteen days ago, I figured I would be without a comfortable place to sleep for two, maybe three days tops. I flew into Austin late Sunday night, arriving around 11:30 p.m. — my first day at my new job a mere eight hours away.
My car was set to arrive two days later, so my first two nights sleeping in Austin were spent on a couch. Not bad, but not particularly great either. I’m no stranger to sleeping on couches. Visiting a friend for the weekend? Unless they’ve got a guest room (highly unlikely), I’m either on a couch or just falling asleep on the floor. In my 25 years of living, I’ve slept on all kinds of sofas. Love seats, sectionals, pull-outs, etc. You name it, I’ve slept on it.
Following two nights of sleeping on a couch, my back was in the very early stages of morphing into a knot factory. It sort of felt like when you do a really intense back and shoulders day at the gym. Let me just say this– for two nights, crashing on a couch is perfectly acceptable. But after the third night your back and your REM sleep cycle are in trouble. So when my car showed up Tuesday evening with my air mattress in the trunk, I was stoked.
As you know, this isn’t your run of the mill hand pump air mattress, either. It inflates and deflates on its own through the power of a built-in device. All the consumer has to do is flip a switch left or right. It’s simple, and I thought this new air mattress may be the one thing that convinces me to give camping outdoors another shot.
I thought my troubles (and my beef with camping) were over. Until they weren’t. I awoke that third night laying in the middle of a completely deflated air mattress. Clothing that I had taken out of boxes and been too lazy to hang up in my closet surrounded me. In my dazed state, I got off the ground, walked around to the edge of the bed, and flipped the switch on it to inflate it again. I figured I must have inadvertently hit the deflate switch while I was sleeping. I awoke again at 7:00 a.m. and realized that this was not the case. There was a hole in this thing and I needed to find it.
That was 13 days ago, my friends. I have yet to find the hole that is ruining my sleep schedule night in and night out. I wake up two or three times a night on a halfway deflated mattress. I’ll lean over, flip the switch to inflate the mattress again, and fall back asleep. Rinse and repeat this three times and you have an average night for your boy. If my mattress doesn’t show up at my apartment by tomorrow afternoon, I am just going to lose it.
My back has never felt this bad in my entire life. I walk around like a 65-year-old retiree with a bad sciatica. My temperament is off. And it’s all because of a Coleman air mattress. So here’s to you, Coleman. Thanks for ruining my chances of ever camping again and also for what will probably turn into chronic back pain. I hope you’re happy..