Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Canoe Trip, or Honesty Right Before Bed

It is an old maxim that if you spend enough time with someone, you get to know them whether you would like to or not.

I was lucky in the fact that for a partner on this trip I picked a good friend of mine whom I have known for about fourteen years or so. I frequently refer to him as my adopted brother. It doesn't hurt at all that he is a fascinating person, makes good conversation, is much smarter than I'll ever be, and he appreciates a good joke. Not to mention he doesn't seem to have any annoying habits other than he is sometimes prone to mumble and this is a fault that is easily overlooked.

I found it interesting that on the first day when one of us would belch, sneeze, fart, etc. that we would use our good manners and excuse ourselves or beg the pardon of the other. On the second day, that ceased. We no longer held it in or asked forgiveness for our common bodily functions as each knew that the other would not be offended. How could we be offended? We shared the same food, drink, canoe and tent. We were seldom more than twenty feet away from the other and the niceties of civilized life seemed superfluous.

When you catch yourself discussing personal time-tables for bodily functions over a breakfast of canned pineapple and it doesn't strike you as the slightest bit odd, you know you have shucked a few of polite society's rules.

Also, if your partner looks you in the eye and asks, "Did you fart?" and you aren't tempted to lie, you know you have passed some small milestone in your relationship*. You know he doesn't care if you farted. He just wants to know because he wanted to decide if it is last night's beans talking or if the bag of wet beef jerky he just opened has gone bad.

Another thing that I thought was quite profound was the fact that when you spend a week alone with someone, there really isn't much need to talk at all. It wasn't like two mimes in a canoe, hardly, but the need for chit-chat evaporates. And when you do say something, you say it honestly, without lies, embellishments, or hidden agendas. You just say your piece and let the other guy do with it what he will.

For example:

On our third night we were slammed with a late August thunderstorm, complete with ear-splitting thunder and nickel-sized drops of rain. Through the lightening, we found a dock and climbed makeshift steps up the twenty foot bank to some one's campsite. The old adage of "any port in a storm" never meant that much to me until then.

We made camp after a very hard day and stretched out on damp bedding in the hastily erected tent and talked by the flashlights. The storm raged on while we drank cold Budweiser from cans and smoked dollar cigars that I purchased from the Marathon station across the freeway.

As I recall, we discussed the Superstring Theory and slip knots, and what were our chances of the storm electrocuting us on the river that evening. I went to great lengths to explain how good our dinner of chili on spaghetti noodles really hit the spot (ALWAYS ENCOURAGE THE COOK!), as well as my thoughts on how best to bank the fire against the rain so we would still have some hot coals in the morning despite the down pour.

We also had a few pulls from "The Jug". This was enough to put tired bodies to bed.

But just as Err reached over to shut off the lamp, he looked at me over his shoulder and said with a sheepish grin, "I hope we get back to civilization soon. I need a woman. Good night."

Click goes the light.

Only once before have I encountered such honesty at bedtime and it involved the confession of a headache.


* I believe that relationships, at one time or another, reach the point where you ask yourself, "Can I fart in front of this person?" Don't believe me? Think about how long it was before you felt comfortable farting in front of your significant other.


  1. Not just any would do, mind you. I had a very specific woman on my mind at the time.

    What sucked was it wasn't until Sunday evening after we got back that I really had any "alone" time with her. But then... oh my.

    It was one of those times that you remember.

  2. I have found that some people you can be yourself in front of right away, and others take a very long time to warm up to you. I would rather hang with the former.


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