Delaware Stories and Tips

Brave New Campground

In the out-of-doors, people belong to one of two castes, and nowhere is that more evident than a campground. As opposed to wilderness camping, campgrounds have the advantage of amenities: water, usually a bathhouse, maybe a general store. They also have a distinct disadvantage: people. Whether its a business or state-run, the operator is trying to make money or needs money to operate, and more people means more money. There's the rub: most people go into the out-of-doors to get away from people, not find more of them. Which brings us to Ralph. Ralph is a beetle-browed Delta-minus, maybe a union roofer, and Ralph is, in a every sense of the word, a boor, not the South African kind, but the South Philadelphia kind. Wherever Ralph goes, Ralph needs for everybody to know Ralph is there, so when Ralph talks, Ralph talks LIKE HE IS THE DEFENDING CHAMP AT THE SPIVEYS CORNER HOLLERING CONTEST. And so do all of his children, and his woman, and the clutch of Ralphians in the mobile home on the campsite behind the patriarch's. Ralph is of the caste that cannot stand nature's sounds or its quiet. They fill the space around them with noise, jibberish, laughing at jokes that are not funny, and crashing about. Instead of enjoying the out-of-doors, they change it into a familiar environment; in Ralph's case, a tap room. By 10 o'clock at night, the Ralphians have enough beer in them to drown whatever vestigal inhibitions they might have and they take up a game of electronic darts, the board hung on the outside of the camper, beeping and booping, the Ralphians arguing with one another and with their females, explaining for all to hear the 52 REASONS WHY WOMEN CAN'T PLAY DARTS!!!!! Fortunately, there were a number of empty campsite well away from Ralph's Ale House, and we relocated to one amongst people of the other caste, those who understand and respect others' privacy. They sat in communal circles around their fires and spoke to one another, not the entire campground. When something struck them as funny, they laughed, honestly and friendly, not forced drunken guffawing. Instead of a boom box, somebody was working out a 12-bar blues acoustic riff. A child cried, but children do that, and the mother went into the tent to comfort her. On the other hand, one suspects, Ralphians were the first to posit the let-them-cry-themselves-out theory so as not to miss a turn at darts. Ralph and his ilk are avatars of the future, spawned in the Sixties and still chanting the mantra, "If it feels good, do it." The physical law of entropy tells us that a closed system eventually will disintegrate, and the Ralphians are evidence of that de-evolution of the human species. They've no concern for anything other than themselves, and they respect not even that. And sometime before the extinction event that will leave insects in charge of the planet, the Ralphs will rule. But until that time, you will find the anti-Ralphs at the far end of the campground, celebrating the sacrifice of some creature comfort in return for spiritual benefit.

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