All my life I had looked forward to the day I could retire and get to do exactly what I wanted to do. When that day suddenly came at an early age, I found out what other men had told me was true: it can be boring.
I now find myself on the road full-time in an RV visiting different parts of the country fishing and hunting where I go plus visiting friends and family as I choose. The good thing is about the time I start to smell like old laundry to my family, it’s time to move on to a new location.
The RV parks are in and of themselves remarkable small villages of interesting folks. My typical arrival at one of these parks goes something like this.
I slowly drive into the main entrance and park the rig and get out to check-in. To the left is a gaggle of old men sitting around a table drinking their bottomless cup of coffee that they paid 25 cents for three days ago.
They make comments about my camper and truck plus see Cooper, my dog, and all cringe at the thought of another yapping animal to keep them up past their bedtime of 7:30 p.m. which coincides with the last installment of Matlock on television.
A man always named “Bob” directs me to my site and the group of old men gather again to watch me park and set up my camper. There is always one guy who is willing to help but let me warn you, never let him. He’s best known around the camps as Accident Al and will back you into a power pole, water hydrant or over the sewer dump and then disappear like a ship on a foggy night.
Finally getting parked, I sit down to rest which is a signal for all the old men to rush to my camper.
You see, they have already told their stories innumerable times to the other men and women in the camp, the local convenience store clerks, UPS drivers, Wal-Mart cart guys and the pastor of the Church of the Living Covenant and now need someone new to share the same worn stories with.
Being of strong character and somewhat weak mind I kindly listen as they tell me for the fifth time about their gall bladder surgery or how they single handedly were able to invent the Internet. Oh wait that was Al Gore.
Such things as successfully returning an item to Wal-Mart, getting a new hot water tank put in and the wife's gas mileage in the new car are told carefully, detail upon detail, the story taking oftentimes as long as the actual event.
These stories are always prefaced with the statement “Have I told you about….” which lets a person know that a long winded account about some event is about to transpire and you better not have to go pee anytime soon.
No amount of saying “yes you have told me about that” interrupts the train of thought for these men as they have already launched into a complete description of the worst diarrhea ever they contracted while on a cruise ship and how they were able to save all their underwear, one pair of which they are currently wearing.
The women there are not immune from cornering me but their stories focus on family and kids and each session involves me having to make cooing sounds at the presentation of thousands of grand children's pictures. At least these story tellers ply me with cookies and cakes and other goodies especially when Trixie is not along with me. They feel sorry for the single man with “no woman to take care of him.” Interpreting that it means “no woman to tell him what to do.”
But all in all it’s a fun time and you learn a lot about people, places and things and get a good laugh most of the time. By the way, “have I told you the one about...?”