Spent the last few days camping. I don’t do it often, but every once in a while it’s nice to go out and enjoy nature, sit by a fire, and try to escape the clutches of civilization….that is until civilization hunts you down.
I was sitting there, in my campsite on the lake, enjoying the bounty of a beautiful day in the Upper Midwest. Suddenly, my new “neighbors” arrive, and started to set up their little domicile in the site next to me.
Now before I go further, let me say – I am not in any kind of physical shape, and I look it. The only people in worse physical shape than me are either dead or getting some kind of around-the-clock medical attention. I can still stand up, and ambulate across the terrain in a reasonably upright position for short distances, and any kind of exertion stronger than putting your shoes on in a standing position will result in shortness of breath. I’m not proud of it, but the accumulated effect of our American bounty of high fructose corn syrup and sugar gets us all.
But back to my neighbors…they arrive in a truck towing a boat. He easily tips the scales at probably slightly over 400 pounds. His wife, while shorter, has the classic Midwestern housewife build of an ex-professional wrestler. You wouldn’t want to sumo wrestle her, and neither would most sumo wrestlers. Her calves are the size of basketballs.
As one is wont to do in these circumstances, I’m watching them set up their tent. For the first time, I’m guessing, by the amount of confusion. After pounding the first tent stake part way in, Mr. America here rolls over on his back, knees in the air – exhausted. I’d just set up my own tent, and the ground is not hard – half a dozen whacks or so is all it takes.
I feared he had a heart attack! I was about to get up to render aid, when his wife came over to him, grabbed the hammer, and finished pounding in the tent stake. Then she turned belly-up on the spread-out tent, breathing hard. After a brief recovery period, he took the hammer from her, and they continued on in this fashion. One hitting the tent stake a couple times, rolling over in exhaustion, and then being spelled by the other when they could crawl over to assist.
It was the only time I’ve seen people in worse shape than me! But this was only the beginning, as naturally these type of people travel in packs. Soon a male friend shows up, although shorter than our hero still easily over 400 pounds, making up in girth what he lacked in height, truly being almost round in stature. He has to hold up his pants with one hand as he walks, as evidently belts are not available in his size, even by custom order. He made no real contribution to the effort, merely taking up one whole side of a picnic table and eating chips of some kind. AND belching audibly.
Then another truck-and-camper combo pulled in, with the Alpha Female of the tribe. Here in the Upper Midwest, these types are usually the ones barking the orders, and it is usually done with a cigarette in their mouth. Their associated males are merely the draft animals to carry out the less glamorous physical tasks, as the Minnesota Alpha Female seems to hold the male of the species in contempt, and suffers him only for breeding purposes.
I could go on and on about my amazement that their boat could actually handle the nearly 800 pounds of the Happy Couple and still show some fiberglass above the waterline, but if there’s anything we Americans have in abundance other than blubber it is horsepower, so I guess it stands to reason. Naturally these people howled until 2:00 in the morning, with only brief respites for them to eat, which they seemed to do in an almost reverent fashion.
These people were the Poster Family for morbid obesity, rudeness, and just about everything else wrong with our modern way of life. Even though they were probably about 10 years younger than I am, most of them could barely walk – their knees and joints already showing the strain of supporting so much bulk. They merely tottered around, keeping their knees locked and swaying side to side to reduce the wear on already overstressed knees.
People like this didn’t even exist 50-60 years ago, outside the circus. Now they are the “new normal”, as the pundits like to say.
Ain’t progress great?