May 31, 2008

Tent for Sale

It is a truth universally recognized (to steal a line from Jane Austen), that when a tent manufacturer prints "Two Man" on their product, they don't mean to say "Two or Three People - give or take."

What they really mean is:

"No more than Two Men. Ever. If those Two Men intend to be comfortable, they should be adolescent Little People from a tribe of Pygmies."

This "Universal Truth" however was lost on Toby, who bought us a Two Man backpacking tent at REI last weekend. In his defense, I know why he did it. He wanted us to go backpacking so the tent had to be small. He also figured Robbie didn't count as a "man" so we could just slip him in between us. Finally, he was trying to stay within a budget we had agreed on and the three man tent was $50 more.

What he did not realize is the amount of thrashing, squirming and flailing a two year old does before, during and after the process of falling asleep.

Last night we went camping about 12 miles away to give the new gear a test drive before going on a full-fledged backpacking trip. All I can say is thank goodness we were so close to home - I almost didn't make it through the night and gave serious through to abandoning camp.

When Toby spread out the foot print I said "That's it?" several times. It was about six inches wider than a twin bed. The tent, against all my fervent hopes was no larger than the footprint. It wasn't even tall enough inside for me to kneel without hunching over. I'm five feet tall. Our two very compact (backpacking gear, remember?) bags were overlapping Robbie's child's bag when we laid them down inside.

Robbie was easy enough to put down but he refused to get in his sleeping bag. Instead, he insisted on sleeping curled up right where my pillow should have been - feet in my forehead. We tried moving him two or three times before he fell asleep and about five times after - nothing doing. He would immediately slither right back on my head.

To make matters worse we realized too late that we were on a slight downhill grade - my end of the tent being downhill. All three sleeping bags were of the slippery nylon variety. Before I could even get drowsy I was having serious claustrophobia - with Toby sliding toward me from one side and Robbie worming ever closer from the other.

I'm a pretty claustrophobic person on a good day. Clothing can sometimes make a freak out if it is too tight and not breathable. Last night I had to talk myself out of just ripping through the tent Incredible Hulk style and running into the night.

I woke up once to find Toby awake also. It seemed a bit lighter and I desperately hoped it was 5 am so I could get out of the coffin tent.

"What time is it?"
"You don't want to know"
"Just tell me."
"You really don't want to know"
"It's 2:30."
"Oh my God."

"I told you, you didn't want to know"

Still later: "If you want, you can just take Robbie home and I'll pack everything up after dawn."
Thinking: "Yes yes yes, great idea you wonderful wonderful man."
Actually said: "No, I won't just leave you here."

Morning finally did come...slowly and with very little sleep.

I got Robbie dressed and diapered in record time and we crawled over Toby to get out.

While we were standing by the tent waiting for Toby I said, mostly joking:

"Robbie, Daddy doesn't love us anymore."

From inside the tent, I heard Toby laughing and then he said:

"How did you know?"

Does anyone want to buy a Two Man tent? I'm sure you could fit two or three a pinch.


Kim said...

This is HILARIOUS. I didn't get a chance to read it last night. I am BUSTING UP. Sounds HORRENDOUS. You poor, poor thing. Loves to you all for surviving that night.

marisa said...

So funny!