"Step on up here and we'll get the process started" is what the camp host lady said Friday afternoon.
We'd pulled into what Me and Eli used to affectionately call the ghetto campground, an acre or so of cleared land with fire pits and tables where we, many times, had set up our modest camps. Mostly, it was convenient as there is a boat ramp at the other end of the lot and the fishing there is often good. We weren't too picky about the 'accommodations.'
When they added a pit toilet was when we pretty much quit going there. There was and still is a real bathroom with running water, flush toilets and showers just a short walk away at the NON-PRIMITIVE area. Seemed to us that those representing the RV contingent lobbied for the stinky pit to keep the tent people away from the beautiful campers.
Back in better days, a volunteer camp attendant would come through the primitive camp in the evening to collect the 7 bucks or so for camp fee. They'd scribble out a PAID receipt that we'd post near the tent.
But, now there is a bright yellow sign that says, "CHECK IN WITH THE CAMP HOST (look for the $80,000 recreational vehicle) at the adjacent area.
So, being good citizens, and all for avoiding hassles, that's where me and my mate went.
"Process?" was my reply... "there is, a, cough.. process, for camping?"
"Well sir, yes, kind of." At least she called me sir as I was bid entry into the south wing of the rolling mega complex as my girlfriend waited in the hot vehicle.
"OK I'll need your name" she said as she hunched over her laptop, me standing behind her feeling like I was being set up for probation. Flashback of unpleasant memories!
She turned around then, pushing her glasses down her nose to peer over them at me with a muffled but distinct sigh of displeasure.
"Last name please."
"Oh, it's just Steve.. like Madonna, or Sting, or Moby. Just Steve- well the JUST isn't part of it. One word, one name, STEVE"
She wasn't buying that BS and it was in fact a lie so I finally, reluctantly, gave up the 411 she wanted.
But then, "street address?"
"Uh, excuse me if I sound, eh, rather exasperated here, about your 'process' but what does my street address have to do with me camping here overnight?" (I pays you cash ok dragon lady)
She wasn't about to budge on the address thing though; said it was "a field that could NOT be left incomplete." Otherwise the 'puterized form set up by homeland security would reject me as potential camper/loser/possible threat.
So I told her "350 5th ave, New York, New York" which is of course the Empire State Building. All in fun of course but she'd seen my Kansas license plate and wasn't going for it. In fact she became noticably agitated and started shuffling her feet around under her makeshift desk. I peered under there, wondering if there might be a red buzzer button, foot operated, for her to step on in panic situations, like say, this.
Hell, went ahead and gave her my old address, the one that was foreclosed by BoA. Not that I have anything to hide because I don't. . just that I don't see where my damned address is any of her, or homeland security's biz.
But then it got worse!
"Social Security number please Mr. O'hehir"
"HUH?" I was near to blowing a fuse! "Why the helfruck do you think you need my social? I assure you I'm a citizen of the home land. My great great grandpa got forty acres and a mule, farmed the dirt and made babies, AMERICAN babies. It's a long story. Would you like a copy of my family tree?"
Clearly growing frustrated as I could discern from her flushed face and sweaty brow, she replied with another not so muffled sigh- "this is a new program put in place by the state to catch deadbeat Dads... and Moms." She added the MOMS I guess so as to not be considered possibly gender discriminate.
"You don't have to tell me the social. I'll turn my head while you type it in and all I can see after is asterisks."
All I wanted to do was launch my boat with my baby and go fishing, navigating the lake in errant fashion whilst drinking, so I agreed, then typed in 666-66-6666, keeping one eye on her to make sure she didn't peek.
"There we go, all finished. Now that wasn't so bad was it!"
"No worse than a root canal . . . so, if I'm a dead beat dad I can be expecting a visit at my camp later this evening?"
Scornful face. No answer. . .
The camp was full of really marginal people, us being the exception.
Here's a movie, mostly made to capture the noise at around ten that night which was ridiculous. If you have good sound turn up the volume and listen. The stuff we go through for fun! Might have to find some different fun, or at least a different place to go.. . . . . .