“Mom, those people are staring at us,” my daughter says as we prepare to leave the campground in our rented RV. “They’re starting to totally creep me out.”
When you’re a teenager, you’re easily creeped out. It happens when you open a Tupperware container of leftovers or when someone in your group (your mother) orders anchovies on a pizza or whenever you walk across a parking ramp.
This is why merely announcing that she was creeped out didn’t get my attention right away. It was a bit like telling me she was breathing.
Still, I look across the street at the older couple camped on the site opposite ours, and sure enough, they are staring. And not just staring. They are laughing.
Not guffawing or shoulder shaking. But clearly they’re amused by us, and not in a good way.
I can’t exactly blame them. It’s clear that we’re new to the whole “getting there is half the fun” in an RV thing. Not only are we a tent-camping family, but we’re usually the people sitting at the modest, traditional campsite laughing at the people we have now become.
My husband fusses with some buttons and then remembers to turn off the engine so he can retract the sliding walls that last night became our bedroom.
The older couple chuckles some more, wondering, I suppose, if we know we’re to take the RV off the leveling jacks before we drive away.
What, are we stupid? We’re providing a little too much entertainment for these folks at the expense of our pride, so I decide maybe they are creepy.
I climb out of the camper (a word I use loosely, in the same way the Kennedys might call Hyannis Port “the cottage”) and await the signal to direct traffic. I have practiced pointing with two fingers as they do at airport terminals, so I’m ready.
But our departure is delayed while our captain consults the manual on an issue. So I do something radical — at least from the perspective of my creeped-out daughter. I cross the street and say hello to our audience.
“I guess you can tell we’re renters, not owners,” I say.
“Yeah, we were wondering if you knew to pull up the jacks,” the man said.
I knew it. They do think we’re stupid.
“We’re tent campers,” I say by way of apology. “But this is a big trip — we’re taking the family to the Grand Canyon — so we figured, why not?”
Before I know it, the older couple tells me about a place in Wisconsin they recommend called the House on the Rocks, where you can spend a whole day touring.
I tell them about our vacation plans and the ambitious journey we’re about to undertake in an RV we clearly aren’t sure how to operate.
They tell me how to make a perfect omelet by mixing eggs and your favorite ingredients into a Ziploc bag, closing it with as little air in the bag as possible and cooking it for 14 minutes in boiling water.
“You’ve got to try it,” the man says. “It’s delicious.”
“I will try it, but I’ll need a name for that omelet,” I say. “What’s your last name?”
“Huby,” they say in unison, pronounced “who-bee.”
“I don’t think we’re going to get to Wisconsin on this trip, so we’ll miss out on that house, but we’ll be trying the Huby omelet,” I say.
Just about then, the RV behind me stokes up like a city bus and I turn to see my husband through the 5-foot windshield, strapping himself into his seat for the long ride ahead.
“That’s my cue,” I say, waving goodbye to perhaps the sweetest little old couple I’ve ever met.
Moral of the story? Remember when teenagers are creeped out that they don’t know what they don’t know. Only mine will now know how to make the perfect omelet.