Monday, August 04, 2008

"camping"?

So Sean and I are prepping for girls camp. It is fun trying to gather all of our supplies. tent, sleeping bags, tarp, pads, etc. I love it all. I haven't been camping in YEARS. So many years. Maybe like 10 years or something. And we are excited. I'm not sure we're your typical "outdoorsy" type but we both enjoy the outdoors and I particularly enjoy not having to shower. Sean is handy in the woods and I am handy with getting dirty.

Now, you wouldn't know it to look at it, but New York City isn't exactly the wilderness. Like, at all. And you might wonder if they have any camping equipment stores. Well, they do. I did go in a camping store once and saw several tiny tents for your pet. Nice.

Now, in NY it is not uncommon to try to find something that people have never heard of before in their lives. We live in an urban land and to some, the country and mountains are quite foreign. For example, i once tried to explain what "pectin" was so i could make some jam. Ok, i know it's a super random item and I didn't expect many people to know what it was. But I said "it's a powder. It comes in a box, and you use it to make jam gel." (<-- gel as a verb, because jam gel sounds super gross) Some of that was apparently lost in translation (which makes no sense) because the guy came back carrying a tin tray that catered food comes in, to keep food warm. Ah yes. That is a tin-like item, it's true. Tin is in the word. Close, but not quite. Moments like these exasperate me. I wish people would just say, "I have no idea what that is" instead of pretending they do and then trying to help me and end up clearly having no clue and wasting everybody's time. But I appreciate their dedication to help their customers.

Anyway, that said, here are some funny moments:

Today I asked a grocery store worker if he knew where marshmallows were. To make s'mores, right? He looked at me: "mushrooms?" "no..." i said. I accepted that it might be a strange item. i tried to describe: "It's white, soft, sweet balls of sugar...uhh..." (what are marshmallows??) He was a nice guy but didn't understand so he got someone else to help me, which they did. All was well. At the check-out the lady from eastern europe? i'm going to guess? said, "you must like marshmallows! me, not so much" (i had 8 bags) I said, "oh, well, i am going camping. They're for s'mores!" And she stared at me. I furthered, "Uhh..s'mores..you know, with chocolate.." And i just kind of trailed off as she continued to scan my items. Oh well.

Saturday we were in dire need of a tent. Before we went out and trekked all around town we wanted to see what these sporting goods stores had. So Sean made calls to stores all over the city and the dialogue went a lot like this several times:

Sean: Hi. I am looking for a tent. I know it's probably not the same at all, but i saw one on your website that looks pretty good.
Man on phone: a what?
Sean says: a tent
Man on phone: tent?
Sean says: Camping equipment, tents
Man: oh... let me transfer you to sporting goods...

I'm not sure i am telling this very well but this made us laugh and laugh. "tent?" Like it's a nonsense word. love it.

7 comments:

Brooke said...

Jen, maybe you can become missionaries of things camp. Teach the people about s'mores. Give them samples out of a tent you've set up on the street. Invite them in and give them a pocketknife and a piece of wood to whittle. I think you'd have many a convert.

Jen said...

You know, I'm definitely going to do some urban camping. This could probably probably be called "being homeless" but i set up the tent in the backyard and it was AWESOME. Backyard camping every night for the rest of the summer. Hotdogs on the electric grill.

Joel said...

I thought Brooke's comment said "give them samples of a tent." Samples of a tent? Awesome.
I guess you could look up some of these words in a dozen different languages and just rattle them off one by one when you get someone on the phone. "Tent. Tente. Zelt. Tenda. Cort. Tält." Eventually you'll hit a word they recognize. Good luck translating "marshmallow," though.

Jen said...

The funny thing is, these are native English speakers. I guess i should have mentioned that. They're just born city dwellers I guess. Don't know what a tent is. :)

Natalie, Cameron and Samuel said...

Maybe I've been in New York too long because I just had to look up some of the words in your post in the dictionary. The first word was "mountain"! ;0)

Annie said...

I was reading along, when suddenly, I found myself rubbing my eyes saying, what the? Did I just catch you using one of these :)? I thought you were morally opposed to their usage. Anyway, that being said, you need a Walmart. Not that anyone at Walmart is knowledgeable or helpful, but they do have everything required for camping. Heh, New Yorkers in Walmart, that could be funny.

Jen said...

Walmart is a magical wonderland and I am in awe and wonderment every time I visit it. I do need a walmart.

I know, i know, i can't give up the emoticon 100%. RIght now i'm just trying to cut down a bit. I have to make realistic goals.

I ended up finding an awesome and perfect tent at our local Target, of all places. It's the one item in our Target that wasn't totally cleaned out in the first 5 seconds of being stocked due to the 5 trillion people that live in this town. Not many people go camping i guess. Now that we have all this rockin' camp equipment, i want to go every year & make it a tradition. Maybe THAT'S what we should do next year! (you guys and us) FUN.