I was married under a falsehood. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.
My intended had employed treachery and trickery to get me here. I’m too far gone to be saved. But, like Jacob Marley, I am here for your sake.
What has my betrayal got to do with you? You’re not marrying my husband. You’re not at risk, unwittingly falling prey to his dastardly schemes.
And you’d be right to think that, although he does spend a lot of time away from home. He could have another family. But that seems like a lot of work.
And if he does have another family, he’s doing the same thing to them he’s done to me.
He’s taking them outside.
And now you’re at risk because the pandemic is driving you outside.
I get it. Outside seems so much better, especially now that good weather lies ahead of us, like chocolate chip cookies after a rough week at work.
But I go outside. All the time.
It’s not that great.
I married an outdoorsman. Had I known he was an outdoorsman, the relationship never would have gotten that far. But he hid his outdoorsman tendencies. And I was too busy watching Law & Order reruns to notice.
And now, his salt-and-pepper hair makes him look like a West Wing-era Rob Lowe. But rugged and taller. Like the Brawny Paper Towel Man with George Stephanopoulos’s locks.
So you understand why I’m trapped.
He was so committed to his deceit. He once told me he loved me even more when I confessed Roadhouse is one of my all-time favorite movies.
I mean, really. What outdoorsman would say such a thing?
Well, maybe one who thinks his Roadhouse-loving girlfriend will never write about him.
But I probably should have looked up from Roadhouse to notice the weeks he spent fishing in remote Canadian lakes. The fly-tying kit whose feathers lured in my cat as much as they lured in fish. The weekends he spent at his family cabin.
The fact he had a family cabin.
So you’ve guessed the punchline, that this cabin is where we spend much of our family’s outdoor time. It is the opposite of the delightful A-frame profiled in The Philadelphia Inquirer, described as a “chalet … picturesque cabin of” the owner’s “dreams.”
That cabin is near a post office and thirty minutes from Philadelphia. Our cabin is near a neighbor called Pig-Man and three hours from Philadelphia. And while, like the A-frame, our cabin was a labor of love, no one would ever call it a chalet.
We’ve spent time at the cabin since our children could walk. The Cabin, as I call it. But the pandemic brought our cabin-going to an unprecedented level of intensity. We hiked new trails. Discovered new places to visit. We even conducted virtual school from The Cabin.
That’s not easy, by the way. The Cabin is too remote for Wi-Fi. We ran two middle schoolers’ virtual classrooms from my phone’s hotspot.
More people have done what we have done – gone outdoors, that is, not built a marriage on lies and Rob Lowe’s hair – thanks to the pandemic. The Associated Press reported last week that so many more people went outside in 2020, L.L. Bean’s revenue growth was five percent.
In that same article, the Outdoor Industry Association – who knew there was such a thing, right? – reported their 2020 projections. Eight million more people tried camping in 2020. That many and then some took hikes. Three million more people went freshwater fishing, which I found out the hard way is very different from salt-water fishing.
People. What are you doing?
I’m with The New York Times on this one: get a wildlife camera. But not so you can be charmed by the Snow White fauna of your yard. There’s a warning embedded in the pages of that article: A family’s camera caught a bobcat squatting in their yard.
And that’s just one of the cute and fuzzy animals you might discover. You know there are invasive pythons in Florida, right? That’s just seven states away. A week of ninety-degree temperatures and who knows? You might become the first Pennsylvanian eaten by a python. Do you really want to be that person?
And what about the decapitated sea slugs that sprout bodies from the stumps of their heads? I appreciate their attempt at making nature feel like a horror movie. But I like my slasher flicks the old-fashioned way – fictional and inside.
Don’t let the pandemic deceive you into thinking the outdoors are great. And the pandemic won’t even stick around. At least my husband is still there at the end of a hike, pouring me a stout and handing me the remote. The pandemic will eventually leave us, and Rob Lowe, George Stephanopoulos, and the Brawny Paper Towel Man have no idea who you are. They will not pour you a stout.
Trust me when I tell you there’s some good TV out there. It will occupy your time while you wait out the virus. WandaVision and The Boys and Bridgerton – which I haven’t seen but is on my list. You’ll never get eaten by a python while a headless sea slug regenerates sixty miles away in the Atlantic as you watch The Handmaid’s Tale.
If, like Scrooge, you do not want my three ghosts of a warning, head outside. Enjoy it.
When the python gets you, I’ll know he’s full for the day.
And it will be one less thing for me to worry about when Brawny Rob Lowe Stephanopoulos and I go for a hike.