The next morning we were up bright and early.
Stepping out of the tent, I answered the call of nature at the conveniently close toilet block. As I washed my hands, two boys came in. My heart sank as I realized one of them was Bruiser.
“Look here, it’s Poo-face!” said Bruiser’s mate. Both boys were dressed in bright clothes which were more suited to a rap video than camping in the mountains. Not only that, their hair looked like they’d stepped out of a salon.
Poo-face? I looked around but there was no-one in the toilet block but me. Poo-face? I looked at my face in the mirror thinking maybe there was some mud on it or something. It was a strange sort of thing to call a bloke.
The big boy hadn’t finished. He began sniffing the air dramatically. Then he stopped and gave me a hard stare.
“You stink, Poo-face,” he said, and Bruiser laughed.
Bruiser was grinning like the idiot I know him to be. He had been enjoying taking a back seat and letting someone else play the role of dumb ass but now seemed eager to add his own two bits.
“Yeah, Pisstan, you stink,” Bruiser said. He turned to his mate. “Tristan. Pisstan. Get it, Crusher?” Seriously, if you need to explain something it’s probably not funny in the first place.
I walked past Bruiser and Crusher. The best way to handle idiots is to ignore their comments.
“Maybe your bums are too close to your noses,” I told them. Unfortunately I’m not very good at ignoring things.
Running back to our campsite (because when you toss a smart-alecky remark at two big guys and you’re on your own you have to disappear fast) I was again confronted by the hideous smell my family seems capable of making. Maybe this was what the kids in the toilet block were talking about – my family’s impressive display of natural gas. Imagine if we could bottle it, we’d be rich.
Dad decided to drive up to the convenience shop near the ranger’s office and buy something for breakfast while Mum fed Brandon some cereal.
As Dad pulled away, Meg spotted a sign which had been hidden by our car.
“Tristan, what’s this word?” she asked. “S-E-P,” she said, spelling it out, “T-I-C.”
I wasn’t listening. A number of nearby campers were looking at us and laughing. At first I thought I was being paranoid. After all, it was a long weekend and everyone was in a good mood. But the more I looked around the more I was sure they were laughing specifically at us. Maybe they could tell it was our first time camping. They probably laughed at everyone in a new tent.
“Tristan! What does it spell?” asked Meg, raising her voice this time to show she wanted an answer and wasn’t going to let it drop.
“Tristan! Help your sister, please,” snapped Mum. “And Meg, keep your voice down.”
“What do you want?” I asked, walking over to my sister.
She pointed to the sign. I read it. Actually, I read it a couple of times, just to make sure the message was as horrible as I thought. It was. It really, really was.
“Mum. You might want to read this,” I said.
“Just help your sister,” said Mum. Brandon was being difficult.
“I mean it, Mum.”
She walked over with her cross face on.
Then she saw the small wooden sign which explained not only our good fortune over finding such lush green grass to pitch our tent on and the smell, but also the smiles from other campers.
Septic Treatment Run-off
When Dad arrived back we were stomping up the dirt road which separated campers, dragging the still half-erected dome tent behind us.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Mum was having a fit. I hadn’t seen her so worked up since the time I used her bra to carry my cricket balls to a neighbourhood cricket match with my mates.
“You made us sleep on treated toilet water!” she yelled at him.
By now several campers were howling with laughter at our expense. And I saw the one thing that could make me feel worse.
Bruiser, and his mate Crusher, joining in the laugh.
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“Raising a family on little more than laughs”