The "Camping Trip"
Rating: PG

FrancoEgypto and Diana deRiggs

Iella and I have found that an active life spent with a toddler and an infant can often resemble many aspects of camping. This was never more so than last weekend.

I preface this by saying that good campers are often fearless and tend to push their luck. Our luck began in the morning when, after a rough weekend bout with her first real case of explosive diarrhea, Myri appeared to have recovered her bowel control and even her appetite. So like good campers, we pushed on and decided to attend a party to which we were invited over amonth before. The party was thrown by business clients of Booster and Mirax's, who recently retired after closing their upper echelon Gauli-MonCal restaurant and moving into a beautiful, multimillion-credit Coruscant Galaxy apartment.

We had met several of the party's guests previously, a couple of whom were distantly related to our close friend Mirax, most of whom were of similarly mysterious stock, and all of whom were over 60 standard years old. When we arrived with our curious and active toddler, Syal, to see this apartment filled as it was with antiques, most of which were small and breakable, Iella turned to me with a look that one camper typically gives another camper who has failed to adequately research the amenities of their campground. Still, if our hosts were at all disappointed with our decision to bring our children (the only ones there), they were gracious and inviting and never showed any sign of it.

It is true that in my eagerness to converse with one of the gentlemen whom I remembered fondly, having saved his life twice both figuratively and literally, I left Iella to largely look after Syal as she was made to play on an area of the floor where she could cause the least destruction. I looked after little Myri who has many great qualities, not the least of which was her lack of mobility. It was when Iella, straining not to sound panicked, called out to me and flashed me a severe look, that I followed her hurriedly into the refresher. Upon smelling that particular odor that served as a warning klaxon, Iella had grabbed and pressed Syal to her body as if to dive onto a hand grenade — and consequently saved several of our hosts' priceless Alderaanian carpets from a fate that instead befell her own clothing.

So when I opened the refresher door to see the disaster that only a truly great camper can endure, I chose to fall into the roll of camp director as I watched, paralyzed with repulsion, as my dear wife went through half a large box of sani-wipes to clean Syal, the refresher floor, and then finally herself. As camp director and the non-malodorous, clean Antilles family representative, I was content to shuttle back and forth between refresher and kitchen to request garbage bags from the party's caterers and of course to justify my lack of more substantive contributions on the grounds that someone had to do the job I was doing.

So when the last of it had been cleaned up and Syal had been changed into the one change of clothing that we had had the foresight to have packed, I lobbied Iella that we would eat the gourmet dinner that had just been served ... and she reluctantly agreed after initially objecting and questioning my sanity. After we emerged from a mostly clean refresher, Iella wearing her mostly unstained and mostly un-smelly clothing, I planted the weary-looking Syal down on a chair — believing she would cause no more trouble — and happily filled my plate with the various gorgeous and delicious-looking buffet foods that were available. I was all ready to tuck in and eat heartily when Iella, observing a look of discomfort in Syal's face, quickly picked her up and whisked her off to the refresher, once again.

I slowly followed to find Iella, in a repetition of her brave act of less than a an hour ago, having thrown herself on another grenade — this one made of a huger volume than the previous mess. I have no clue where the materials for the explosion had come, for my daughter's total volume was much less than the much clinging to every surface of the refresher ... Fortunately, the better part of a box of wipes remained and our hosts were nice enough to lend Iella a tee-shirt. Syal had nothing to wear other than her coat.

More than anything, a great camper knows when to break camp and go home. I was forced to lobby for my life at that point, and thus we excused ourselves and left for home despite the evening's Olde Imperial City traffic; I kept thinking of the delicious dinner I had been unable to taste or enjoy. We were in solid gridlock on our way into the mountainpass tunnel when Syal decided regale us with a repeat performance. Iella jumped to cup her hands to intercept as much of the explosion that she could keep from forever doing away with our new-speeder-smell. Once again, as camp director, I resolved to concentrate on the barely-moving repulsorlift-supported traffic while Iella went through the last of the wipes.

We made it home feeling like true campers. Syal hit the bed, Iella hit the shower and I hit the laundry room with a full basket. The next day held a bit more of the same for poor Syal, and the pediatrician confirmed that a nasty bug was affecting many children in the area. We have been happy to let Syal go through the rest of her convalescence at home. I have claimed responsibility for regaining our new-speeder-smell and Iella has vowed that neither I nor the children will ever be allowed out into the corridor, much less "camping," ever again.

Sorry, Wes, that's the honest truth of why I can't go out with you and the boys ...


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