PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS
Childhood adventures #1
By John C. Gyorki
It is never too late to have a happy childhood. ~Tom Robbins
Everybody Has An Embarrassing Story to Tell
Embarrassing stories are funny when you’re not the subject matter. What if one of your own stories is a favorite of your children? What would you do? Share it, or tuck it away, never allowing the tale to be told?
Family and friends who know me well, understand my love for a good story that earns a good laugh, even if it’s at my own expense.
When I taught my kids a life lesson in their younger years, I liked to offer a good visual analogy to seal it to their memory. So, when faced with a choice when a problem occurred, they could recall my words of wisdom.
Many years ago, a matter came up about paying attention to detail before you move forward. I wanted to ensure my story would stick with them for the rest of their lives.
I’m happy to report it worked. In fact, I believe it will change your mindset too, AND, I guarantee you will recall this very story of me from your memory on cue.
I hope to challenge your imagination and bring laughter to your heart. I warn you — I spare no detail.
I’m about to leave an impression on you for life, here we go!
Camping is Fun
My family took to the roads on a Kentucky to Tennessee camping adventure, pulling a tiny pop-up canvas camper behind our covered pickup truck bed.
My dads’ mother (my grandma) had recently flown in from Hungary for a summer visit, so my father wanted to show grandma America, land of the free.
Off we went on a two-week trip packed full of dreams and sites to see.
Automobile laws weren’t as strict back in those days. Seatbelt usage wasn’t enforced nor riding in the pickup bed frowned upon. It was the norm.
Grandma volunteered to ride in the pickup bed with my diapered two-year-old sister and eleven-year-old me, while mom and dad rode in the cab.
Yup, you read that correctly. I’m nine years older than little sis. I also want to point out that we were all sitting or lying on a full-size air mattress in a tin box on wheels with an old woman.
We couldn’t afford the luxury of air conditioning, so we did without.
And I’m sure you may have noticed no car seat mentioned. We even rode our bicycles with no helmets in those days. Crazy, I know, but I’m still here to tell you about it.
Too Much Planned, Not Enough Time
About a week into the trip, Dad realized we couldn’t possibly visit all the tourist attractions he had planned for.
Everything felt rushed. No sooner did we set up camp, we were breaking down and moving to the next camp site.
We were all becoming irritable from long days on the road and scorching hot summer heat.
When you’re camping, all your conveniences aren’t there anymore. You walked everywhere for water, restrooms, and showers.
That evening, after dinner, we all agreed to spend a good portion of our time enjoying the majestic beauty in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee before returning home to Michigan.
We were to leave right after breakfast the following day.
Smokey Mountain Here We Come
After a day of travel, and frequent stops at every rest area between Kentucky and our destination in Tennessee, we pulled into our camp site at dusk, tired. Setting up camp was slow, especially with a canvas pop-up camper.
I could tell my mom and grandma were exhausted from their flushed facial expressions from the heat of the day. My little sister was overtired and crying. Our shirts were saturated with sweat as Dad and I rushed to set the camper up, so my mom could lay my sister to sleep. We were all beyond exhausted.
It’s Just a Little Dab, That Should Do Me
We did a lot of sitting from all the traveling. When you travel that much with no air conditioning, specific parts of our body can become uncomfortable, even a little chaffed. You know, we all have had this happen to us. When sweat runs down your back and through the valley. It can leave your hidi-hoe a little unhappy, don’t cha know.
Mom went into the camper to prepare my sister for bed. She called out to me, “run and fetch a tube of diaper rash ointment out of the cosmetic case inside the back of the pickup truck.”
Night sat upon us, so I ran to the vehicle, climbed in back and blindly searched for a tube of diaper rash ointment. After rummaging through the case in the dark, I felt and found a tube. On my walk back to the camper I thought, if this stuff works on a baby’s behind, surly it would soothe mine.
So, I grabbed a fistful of napkins, and while doing so, I scanned the area to determine where I would go to apply my miracle cure in private. Our camper was set up near the tree line away from others, so I thought, hey, I’ll just go underneath the slider bed of the camper and butter-up.
Now please don’t judge, you know how this must happen.
I crouch down and move quietly into position. My mom sang Hungarian lullaby’s above me to my sister so she would calm down. Kinda sounded relaxing for what I was about to do.
There wasn’t anymore time to waste. If I was going to do this it had to happen now.
I exposed my full moon to the darkness and humid air, hoping the mosquitoes wouldn’t confuse my vulnerable position as an open invitation to harvest my rump. I squeezed a healthy dab of cream onto a folded napkin for application purposes only.
My mom shouts out, “JOHNNY, where are you?”
“I’ll be there in a minute,” I shouted back.
Geeez, I thought. Can’t a fella take care of personal business for goodness’ sake.
What do you think the next step is? You guessed it. We all have one, so don’t act like this never happened to you before.
What a Surprise
Anticipating immediate relief, I executed operation ‘REFRESH.’
I would have liked to report all went well, but it did not.
Two seconds into spreading ointment on Mr. Bullseye, everything went South.
Houston, we have lift off! My head thrust up into the bed panel underneath our pop-up camper. Now I have a golf ball size knot on top of my head. (Knot-knot-knot on heaven’s door, yeah, yeah yeah, yeaaaah)
HOLY BLAZING BOTTOM BATMAN, I feel fire! You’d thought the devils’ breath was burning my tail pipe off. I honestly thought I would have to drag my fanny across the grass like a dog on carpet.
How it is possible my mother could be so cruel to apply something like this to a baby’s bottom, I thought.
I was completely dumbfounded as to what to do? I tried to remove the excess, but that made it worse.
Now I needed relief of another kind. I looked at our ice cooler and contemplated being the first human to insert an ice cube suppository. With each passing second, I felt like my lower extremities were going numb on me. I literally freaked out. Even my nose started running. (To this day, I can’t figure that one out.)
I received a quick anatomy lesson from my self-help remedy. I discovered my back heinie muscle must be connected to my facial muscle, because my mouth opened wide enough to swallow a grapefruit whole. My eyeballs bugged out of my skull giving me enhanced night vision for the rest of the week.
My mom stuck her head outside the camper asking what all the commotion was about.
I tried hard to hold my composure together best I could, I pulled my shorts up, but the burning remained intense. I toughed it out and went inside the camper where we had a lit lantern.
To my horror, the tube I grabbed read, CLOSE-UP cinnamon flavored toothpaste!
“OOPS,” I said.
Mom handed me a flashlight and said, “Pay attention to detail, don’t be in a hurry, now go.”
Dad Saw Me
I ran back to the truck to right what I had wronged, but of course dad is waiting for me.
All I wanted to do was take a shower.
My dad sat motionless on the tail gate when I showed up. He asked what I was doing under the camper and why my body gyrated so much.
I showed him the tube of tooth paste. His facial expression looked confused. I explained, I mistakenly thought I used baby rash ointment.
The man laughed so hard the entire campground heard him.
(My father spoke with an undeniable Hungarian accent. He had a hard time pronouncing certain words. In this case, the ‘th’ pronunciations seemed difficult for him.)
“You put toot-paste on you butt?” said dad.
“Yup, I sure did.”
“Did you use toot-brush to put it on?” Dad laughed.
“Nope, napkins,” I said, blushing from embarrassment. Dad laughed even harder.
With a flashlight in hand I found the proper product. Dad took the tube from me and said go shower.
I bolted to the shower facility as fast as I could to quench the smoldering crater with water and wash twin cheeks out for good.
While running off, I could hear dad yelling in the distance. “Don’t put the soap bar in you mout!”
Ha ha, I thought to myself.
The camp fire crackled and popped as we all gathered around it from a distance. The stars were bright in the clear night skies. I stood the rest of the evening with my back-facing west to catch the soothing breeze coming off the mountains. The numbness I felt subsided; I could feel again.
I spent the rest of the evening listening to everyone poke fun at me. I didn’t mind, I enjoyed the laughter.
My dad repeatedly asked me throughout the night if I passed wind because he kept smelling cinnamon.
I hope you enjoyed my insight from an innocent mistake I made as an eleven-year-old by not paying attention to details.
I know my kids did.
Years later, Stephen Covey wrote a book I’m sure most of you have seen or read, “7 habits of highly effective people.”
One of the habits stood out for me when I read it. “Keep the end in mind.” Guess what incident I thought of?
I’m sure you are wondering if I still use cinnamon flavored Close-up tooth paste, aren’t you?
My answer, HECK NO! I wouldn’t put that stuff in my mouth!
W e l l, if you use this product, my sincere apologies; it’s gonna be hard to shake the visual I gave you.
Time to change it up.
Moral of the story
Never assume anything; pay attention to detail.
Thank you for going down memory lane with me. Have a story you want to share? Let’s here it. John
If you like this camping story, maybe you would like another one of my trips, click here.
Copyright © 2018 John C. Gyorki