Dear Dr. McGurk,
I only have about four friends, and this weekend they all want to go camping. As the most arachnophobic, agoraphobic, and isopterophobic fellow of the gang, I made it my business to find out as much about nature as possible. That’s how I learned how evolution created the deadliest spiders and moths to come out at night, when unsuspecting campers are at their most vulnerable. Also, that beaver dams, we should expect them to raid our cooler for cigarettes and jerky. Should I fain sickness this weekend? If I do decide to go, I must know: what do beavers prefer, cigarettes or jerky?
Addicted and Scared
Dear Addicted and Scared,
Firstly, my lawyers have requested I apologize for not being clearer. It usually takes about four weeks for me to answer one of these letters, so by now you’re either a wad of beaver dam or a cocooned high up a tree in a friendless silk-sack. Well that’s what you get for leaving your room without my admonition. Nevertheless, it remains my duty to answer any letter written by the deceased. Perhaps others may learn from your mistakes.
I don’t blame you for not liking the outdoors. There’s a reason civilization has succeeded in being the greatest part about being a human: your shit doesn’t get wet, you don’t have to constantly smell like buckshot, you can vary your diet beyond marshmellows and hotdogs, and you get reliable bedside tables. The only things “nature” has given to us that’re worth keeping are 1) mythology and 2) jerky. And the only way you’ll survive is by bringing a hefty dose of both.
For instance, after the sun goes down, you and your friends might get to wondering, Well what the hell are we supposed to do now? You’ll find pursuing this question to its logical conclusion difficult and infuriating. The dark is a naturally dreadful place, which makes the average person highly susceptible to irrational suggestions. So instead of getting creative with your time around the fire, I suggest making up stories about the origins of things. Try stars, or other celestial objects we humans prefer to drown out with city lights. Or origins of phrases like “The cat’s out of the bag,” and “You dirty tramp.” After you’ve established yourself as the leading scholar of the group, its time to break out the jerky. Feeding scared and hungry minions is your best chance at forming a human shield loyal enough to withstand nature’s freaky nighttime onslaught . And nothing is as universally satisfying to frightened man-children as beef jerky.