Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Definitions: Alien Abduction

This is not the kind of thing you normally plan for, but which sometimes happens to hikers in remote areas, generally around dusk.

For some reason or other.

If you hear a strange rattling buzz and your arm hairs start to tingle, then try ducking under cover, though it may already be too late. They're pretty good at locating the people they want, which may be you. Even if you haven't had a bath in the last two weeks.

But try hiding anyway.

If you were just contentedly gazing at the evening sky and then you suddenly find yourself bathed in a cone of white light, you are definitely S.O.L. (Surely Out of Luck). Even if you try ducking under that log.

Expect to be gently levitated upward into some sort of disk or saucer-shaped pod, and after that you can just about throw out the rule book. Control has definitely passed out of your hands.

While there really isn't much you can do it still pays to make as clean and presentable an appearance as possible. It couldn't hurt. Wear fresh undergarments. Bathe more often than twice a month.

Seriously. At least try to.

Always carry a small kit with a selection of essential toiletries such as toothpaste and deodorant, and maybe a small comb. Trim your nose hairs if at all possible.

Remember, these beings are much more advanced and refined than we are, even if they do have tentacles and/or bristles, and uncomfortable quantities of slime oozing from various places. They will look more favorably on you if you don't stink. And they are the ones with the ray guns.

If you are tidy, if you do behave, and especially if you seem to enjoy the probing and so on, they may let you snap a few photos, so be sure to include a small camera in your kit and remain alert for opportunities.

Aside from a few lingering sore spots if the probing gets out of hand, the experience may not be too bad, and coming back with a bunch of photos could put you on easy street for the rest of your life.

On the other hand they may just eat you.

You really never know.

Play it by ear.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Definitions: Clothing

Clothing is that which separates backpackers from animals, and serves as a shrubbery deflector in scratchy places.

Whereas, on the one hand, animals have natural-born fur, which is self-replenishing, self-cleaning, durable, form fitting, warm, blends into the landscape, costs nothing, repels insects, and prevents sunburn, humans have clothing, "a covering designed to be worn on the body".

As if that sounds like an improvement.

Trees have leaves, and bark of various colors and thicknesses, and some even have Spanish moss, which can be eaten as a salad if times get tough. But humans, no. Nothing like that. (Edible panties hardly count — they lack calories.)

Humans have only "a covering", which sounds a lot like shelf paper. Though if this covering stuff is intended for backpackers, and sold in stores, it's likely to be made of Gore-Tex, cost a thousand dollars, come only in yellow, blue, or orange, and not fit well. And leak when it shouldn't.

A backpacker can use dung, and it's been tried, but never has been popular. Early market testing found it more commonly used as an insulating layer in deep burrows during the winter months. For warmth you see, and not as recreational wear. And not that much fun.

If you must have clothing, then pajamas work, or overalls, kimonos, or sarongs, supplemented by shawls, nightcaps, spats, veils, or wimples. A lot of things work, if you come right down to it, each in its own way, but the backpacker has no universal, all-purpose, factory-supplied, shrink-wrap-tight hair suit like the other critters out there. And you just can't get around that fact.

So backpackers have to work at it, improvise, and a kilt isn't right for everyone. For most, a kilt is never even an approximate solution, with or without the user even has enough leg hair to pull it off.

Backpackers need clothing.

Backpackers need clothing because they are not meant to live in or under shrubbery, or cozily nestle in between mucky rustling lakeshore reeds. No.

Backpackers do not belong under the wide sweeping sky of the steppes, ripping tufts of grass with their sturdy teeth and masticating it into submission, depending on their fuzz to deflect the pummeling gusts of gusty winds.

And so a backpacker needs clothes the way an astronaut needs a space suit, the way a candy bar needs a wrapper, the way fruit needs a can — for preservation.

Clothing is also that thing which, if you grow forgetful and leave it at home, you will regret not having it, immediately, incessantly, completely, and for the full duration of your trip, especially if someone has brought a camera.

So there.

Note: According to the ancient Egyptians, clothing may be protected from mice and rats by liberally applying fat of the cat, which is a decent reason to have a well-fed and docile pussy around the house. Something to keep in mind.