Thursday, November 17, 2011

THE CURSE OF THE OVER-PACKER

Tomorrow night Foghorn goes on her first overnighter with her Girl Scout troop to Camp Butterworth in Maineville, Ohio.  Unfortunately, I'm going along with her.  It wasn't mandatory, but Foghorn insisted I had to go.  Despite her boisterous, rude, crude nature, she actually tends to be a bit clingy and ill at ease in new situations.  Therefore, tomorrow night I will be sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the Friendship Lodge with (gulp) a couple dozen little girls.  I'd say I might go running from the place screaming except I'd just get lost in the woods and have to be rescued by the troop, which would be embarrassing for all.

My biggest problem today is packing.   I was provided with a checklist of items Foghorn needs to bring including bedroll, fitted twin sheet, clothing, boots, toiletries, mess kit (plastic washable plate, silverware, cup, bowl), a small toy concealed in a brown paper bag (for a game of Snoop), and a bag of chocolate chips to contribute to the snack of GACK.  (Sounds like something Dr. Suess would've come up with.)  Here's the rub:  I'm a notorious over-packer.

We've never vacationed in the jungle or the desert or in a tent in the woods.  We're always spitting distance for a McDonald's and a Wal-Mart, sure signs of civilization.  Yet somehow I always pack as if there's no chance I might be able to get my hands on medication, toothpaste, or underpants if necessity arises.  I always end up packing at least one suitcase-worth of stuff that is never needed, never unpacked, never thought of again.  I admit my compulsion and I'm trying my best to not let it take over my packing for a trip that will last a total of 18 hours.  I keep thinking, though, that if my kid wakes up at 2 a.m. and wants item X, what the hell do I do?  I know, tell the aforementioned kid to shut up and go back to sleep, you say.  Then again, you have never heard her air raid siren wail slice through the night if she's unhappy.  I keep telling myself the camp is about 20 minutes from home and since I'm not a needed chaperone, I could just load her crying ass in the car and drive away.  Still, I keep adding just one more type of medication to my bag, just one more pair of pants in case she ruins the ones I'm packing, one additional fork in case she drops hers in the camp fire...

Actually, my compulsion would have proven valuable on our last vacation.  Chester and I took the kids to Chicago.  Two days before our Monday departure, the minivan goes kaput and can't be repaired in time.  Suddenly I'm looking at four people and the trunk of one small PT Cruiser and thinking about what I need to unpack.  We barely squeezed what I considered essentials into the car.  Anything that wasn't absolutely necessary was left behind.  And what happened?


Well, we used nothing but mass trans while in Chicago and the second day we got caught in a torrential rain storm.  I had an umbrella, The Inmates had rain ponchos (Chester had nothing), and we were all thoroughly soaked.  Now I normally pack an extra pair of walking shoes for everyone, but we were tight on space.  The result?  Three pairs of gym shoes that were still wet when we returned home and everybody went to Wrigley Field in their swimming sandals.  Another casualty was my tote bag, which looked like it had gone down with the Titanic.  Normally I'd have a spare tote bag, but...  I did have one bag in the car, which I retrieved.  I then walked around downtown Chicago for the rest of the trip, including going to Wrigley Field, with a blue bag I had been given when my father died and which proudly advertised "Tufts-Schildmeyer Funeral Home and Crematorium" all over the side.  Nobody tried to mug us.  Personally I think all the hoodlums took one look at me and said, "That b*tch is crazy.  I'm not going near her."

Chester was unhappy with me on so many levels...

So, I'm packing lightly for the camp out, really I am.  I've only got one extra flashlight (in case our batteries go dead) and I'm only taking one extra blanket (in case it's colder than we anticipate).  I'm sure we can rough it for this one night...I hope...


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3 comments:

lillianscupboard said...

I can just see you with your latest Dooney bag in one hand and a Tufts-Schildmeyer Crematorium bag in the other. Snazzy.
Mom

garden2day said...

This takes me back to all of the good (and bad) times I had with my girls - I was a troop leader in another life. I have always been an over packer, too. I constantly worry… “What if I leave something we need behind?” At least no one can say that you are not prepared :). Have fun!

Nancy Susanna Breen said...

Maybe this little exercise will be your first step on the road to recovery. (Says the sister who has to help load and unload all that cr*p on vacation.)