Deadwood (Or, One Bad Goes Camping)

25 Apr

Back in the day, when I was young and Southern and all full of sweet tea and roses, I had a habit of getting myself into near-unsurvivable situations purely by dint of trusting everyone I met not to take me out in the woods somewhere and murderize me.

We'll just trust anyone, y'all, seriously.

One time, for instance, I got in a guy’s truck at a party and let him drive me 45 minutes into the woods in Monticello, Florida (you can go ahead and look that up. It’s Dueling Banjos country) so we could look at some stars where there weren’t any “city lights”.  (Seriously, somehow that didn’t set off my “You’re going to die” detector). Only once we were deep into no cell phone reception territory, where no one but mosquitoes could hear me scream, did I flip out and clutch the door handle for dear life, flashing through all of the various Jason movies.

Picture this, but with stars.

“Look at it out here,” says Monticello guy, cutting the engine. “There’s Orion’s noose… I mean belt, and there’s the lead dipper,  and that over there is the unmarked plot where I bury all my victims…”

One Bad: *runs screaming through the forest*

To Monticello guy’s credit, he neither raped nor murdered me, but damn, talk about opportunity!

I thought living in NYC had finally beaten the unconditional trust of strangers straight out of me, but it appears I had just enough left to end up alone in the central florida wilderness last month with a former Air Force Survival Instructor who had a machete. I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I’m just an idiot.

It was only mostly like this.

See, I was supposed to write this article wherein I took a weekend course at a survival camp, learned to purify water and make fire and build shelters out of leaves, and then I would complete a test where I was alone in the wilderness and had to fend for myself.

I thought I was being smart by setting up the test so I wouldn’t be entirely alone, but I  neglected to really research the guy I had help me out. He’s legit, of course, but at the time, I didn’t know anything about him save that he has a survival camp website and the magazine I was writing for once used him as a source.

So, I’m in the woods with this guy, who is nearly twice my size and has a saw and a rake and a knife the size of my head, with little food and no tents, and the first thing we do is search for a tree stump for a little over an hour.

As we’re hacking through the brush, in hot pursuit of this stump, which presumably is in the same place he left it, unless there’s something I don’t know about stumps, he launches into a story about a time he was in a survival training situation that was so intense, another trainee cracked a joke and he beat the shit out of him so bad he almost got kicked out of the air force.

Then, sensing that he has possibly made me nervous, he tells me an even better story about running a weekend camp for “a group of really pretty young girls, like you.” Apparently, two drunk rednecks in a rusty old truck kept trying to come down into camp and make off with a nubile young thing or two, and Survival Guy had to fend them off by sneaking around behind them through the brush as they approached and putting his knife to one guy’s neck.  The peeing of pants was involved.

Perhaps sensing that I am now freaked the fuck out, he launches into the story of his father’s death, and how it’s made him want to copyright the word his father called him when he was a toddler  (I won’t use it for fear of being sued, but it sounds like Gleebabble) and make it into some international symbol.

“As an editor, what do you think I should do with it?”  he asks, climbing up onto a bench in an old gazebo to chase a bee with his machete.

“Well, it sounds like it could be a cute character, like a drawing of a little bubble?” I say. “But he’s a square bubble and he’s sad cause he’s not round like the other bubbles. You could write a children’s book!”

“A CHILDREN’S BOOK?!!” he says, pausing from threatening the bee to glare down at me from a bench. He waves his machete wildly. “That would be selling out!”

At this point, I have an I’m-going-to-be-murdered-so-fucking-hard-this-totally-sucks meltdown and cross the clearing to my shelter to collect my phone, thinking “Shit shit shit shit shit. How do I even know he runs survival camps and isn’t filming a real life movie called SURVIVAL CAMP IV: Slutty Chicks Die. I’m gonna get killed and my bones are gonna be all everywhere and people are gonna cry oh man oh man. Oh HI survival guy!”

Because survival guy has walked over when I wasn’t looking and is giving me advice on my shelter.

“Are you sure you want to build your shelter so far away from mine?” he asks.

“I mean, yeah, I want it to be authentic. Like I’m staying by myself out here?”

“You’re not gonna be scared?”

“Well, kinda. I’m sure I’ll be alright though.”

“You know, a guy once built his shelter out here, and then realized afterward that there was bear shit all around it. We called him Man Who Sleeps With Bear Shit for the week!” *laughs maniacally*

And at this point, I’m thinking, “You know what, Gleebabble?  I’ma take my chances with the bears.”

But I think I said something like, “heh heh heh.”

Anyway, I didn’t get macheteed to death, and survival guy and the experience ended up being completely awesome. But I’m clearly never going to learn my lesson. Anybody know if they have How-to-keep-yourself-from-being-killed-by-ordinary-people survival camps?


One Response to “Deadwood (Or, One Bad Goes Camping)”


  1. Here’s mud in your eye, Interlude « The Living Yaylights - November 20, 2011

    […] I have a friend in the Air Force SERE division. You should give him a […]

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