July 28, 2004

Camp Surreal

The last weekend in July is the Burns reunion. This is when my grandmother's brothers and sisters and their gaggle of children and grandchildren gather in Maquoketa, Iowa to catch up on what's happened for the last year. And eat...and eat more and more. Jinkies!

We usually go...otherwise I'd never see most of these people. They are a buoyant bunch of Scottish jokers. We are descended from our immigrant ancestors who came here from Ayreshire looking for lord knows what.

I digress.

My mom and dad are campers. They have this big fifth wheel that they take everywhere...just haul your own hotel room along behind you and you don't ever have to pack/unpack or worry about what's on the comforter. They camp in the city town campground and have room in their trailer fifth wheel for us to stay with them.

My parents are considerably conservative christians (ccc's) and always do the right thing. They would never do anything illegal or immoral (take note as this is important).

We pull up to their camp site and park. We get out of the car and walk up to the camper. They are just getting ready to go over to cousin Pam's for sloppy joes and sweet corn, so we turn around and head back to the car. As I get in the car, Chris starts poking me and whispering "did you see what was on the table??? huh? huh?" Uh, no, I didn't. I get out of the car and walk up to the picnic table and pick up the mysterious item just as my dad comes out of the camper. I quickly put it back down and high-tail it to the car. It's a POT PIPE! A little, chrome chamber pipe. WTF? It's the LAST thing that I would ever imagine finding in my parents' posession (aside from, maybe, a crack pipe) and it's laying right out in the open!

Now, I have been known to chief some hay, but this is something that my parents do not know and would not approve of. Why in the world would there be a pot pipe laying on their picnic table?

We go chow down at Pam's with a ton of "kin" that have gathered there. Hours later, after returning to camp (pot pipe still laying there in plain view on mom's gingham table cloth), I can't stand it any more. I finally break down and ask...

"Mom, what is up with what's laying on the picnic table."

She looks at me, blink, blink..."What are you talking about?" (halo gleaming)

"Mom...that metal thing!"

"OH! We found that in the grass."

"Do you know what it is?"

"Well, at first we thought it was part of a keg tapper, but I think it's a pipe for smoking marijuana."

"I think you're right. Why is it laying there on the table like that?"

"We thought that whoever lost it might come looking for it."

I wanted SO badly to tell them that they were NOT going to come looking for it. "Do you think it's a good idea to leave it there considering that it's probably illegal?"

"Well, it's not ours!"

Dear God...

We go outside and I remark to Chris about what they found in the grass. Mom mentions that she thinks there is a part of it missing..."isn't there supposed to be a bowl or something?" There is a lid on it, but it is complete. I pretend to have no idea. "Do you suppose they could smoke crack in it?" Mom wonders out loud.

"I have no idea, Mom."

So, the entire weekend, the little chrome pipe sits there. Aunts, Uncles & cousins come roast marshmallows by the fire and can see the flames' reflections sparkle on it's chrome surface. Do any of them see it? Put that thing away, for heaven's sake! There it is, right next to the graham crackers and chocolate bars we're using to make smores. I'm having visions of the local sheriff spotlighting the table on his patrol and my parents being arrested for possession of paraphernalia.

At this point, I simply can't stand it any more. I casually reach over and tuck it under the edge of the table cloth. There it stayed. Throughout the reunion and the rest of the weekend.

They probably left it there when they left for home. Wouldn't it be funny if the campground manager mailed it to them?

I hereby dedicate this to Maquoketa, Iowa and the Burns Clan:
The Duel

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