Last night I sat playing a video game called Mass Effect 3, perhaps one of the most immersive virtual worlds I have ever experienced. Have you ever wished that you could watch a movie multiple times and the outcomes and character development would change, then you would love playing Mass Effect. If the idea of watching a movie and then not being able to proceed halfway through because you weren’t good enough, then you would NOT love playing Mass Effect. Kind of rude to think that when you buy a video game you own the content but can’t access it unless you work at it, unlike a movie or a book.
However, it was just as I was helping the elitist Turians form an alliance with the feisty Krogans that Roberta walked in front of me rolling a suitcase behind her. I looked up at her as I heard my character die in a flame of laser beams, “Did you just pack everything for Mongolia?”
“Yes.” She said, unabashed.
I may have snickered, which made her put her hands on her hips and looked at me like she tends to do once or twice a day.
“Could you move? The universe needs me.”
Instead she powered off the xbox.
“You’ve doomed everyone.” I said in the grim and confused manner of a man who has been shoved into the gritty, rude world that is called reality.
“Get in the car, we are going to REI.”
A few minutes later we were driving the Red Menace towards downtown.
“Are you sulking because I turned off your game?” Roberta asked.
I crossed my arms and avoided eye contact, “I’m not sulking.”
“Are you sulking because we are going to spend money?”
Even though I didn’t look her once in the eye and was as implacable as a stoic statue, she knew she hit the nail on the head. “I hate spending money.”
“But it is for our adventure.”
“Adventures should be subsidized by the government.” I retorted.
“Think how nice it will be in Siberia when the wolf sized mosquitos are on the outside of the tent and you are inside of it. Would you rather be eaten alive?”
I started weighing the pros and cons.
“NO, no you wouldn’t. You’ll get Siberian malaria”
“You’re making that up.”
“We also need a sleeping bag.” She said, evading the accusation.
“What? I thought we were going to get one in England!”
“I’ve had a conversation with a few friends who have purchased sleeping bags in England all of whom came to regret it.”
I had a sudden memory of my own experience in an English sleeping bag in the south of France and how it had unraveled and split in a dozen different places. It wasn’t long before my feet stuck out huge holes in the bottom and yet the drawstring at the top had a tenacious grip that squeezed down on my throat in the middle of the night. I’ve never had an inanimate object before or since that has tried to murder me quite like that bag. The second night I used it was even worse. “Okay.”
We arrived at REI and I went off to look at useless exercise equipment, like pedometers that change colors and cameras you can strap on your back to see how toned your butt is while riding your fancy 2 ounce racing bike. I don’t know why I do this at REI, perhaps I’m jealous at how inventive some people are at swindling money out of others.
Anyways, I came back to find Roberta had already chosen a tent. “See how light it is?” She said, handing me a bag with a tent in it.
I bent the bag in half, “I’m pretty sure the poles aren’t in here, in fact, I think this is just the rain fly.”
We got this sorted out and got the full tent in a bag which was a fair bit heavier. I asked the salesman if they had any Harry Potter tents.
“What do you mean?”
“They’re bigger on the inside.”
“Have you ever seen or read Harry Potter?” I asked.
Having wasted my joke on the only person who hasn’t seen a Harry Potter movie we moved onto the sleeping bags. I started poking around bags rated down to absolute zero made from the down of ten thousand humming birds and layered with a hyperthermosynthetic blubber stolen from endangered whales. “Hey Roberta, for the price of one of these you can buy a family of 6 a yurt in Mongolia.”
Alas, she had found a much more reasonable price bag and had laid it out on the “testing” platform over some recommended camping pads the saleswoman brought us. Roberta hopped right on and laid stretched out, I decided to join her.
“This is a double sleeping bag” I told her.
“What are you going to do when you can’t stand me anymore?” I pinched her to help her visualize weeks of sleeping next to me in rural Mongolia.
“Ow. You can share Hans’s English-made sleeping bag.” She warned. But then she smiled, “How long do you think we could lay here before they tell us to leave?”
“Should we make out?”
We didn’t, although we might go back to try it.
“These are pretty comfy sleeping pads” I noted, “How much do they cost?”
The saleswoman who was hiding nearby perked up, “Only 160 dollars each. But they self inflate.”
I almost fell out of bed. I remained on good behavior though and turned to face Roberta, “We may need to compromise on pads.”
The saleswoman, slyly catching on that she had a cheapskate on her hands went and got the low end sleeping pads. “You could try these.”
“I see they serve a dual-role as toilet paper also.” I didn’t say because Roberta would have killed me. But to be fair they were a little transparent.
She went back for a more substantial pad and brought them back, “These don’t self inflate.” she warned.
“That’s okay, we have an intern for that.” I said.
We ended up claiming these decent sleeping pads, the sleeping bag, and the tent and all together our costs were only a fraction of a yurt in Mongolia which made me feel rather proud considering we were shopping at REI.
All that remained to do was try on a pair of those running shoes that have individual toes. Roberta despises them which makes them that much more attractive. Alas, my grossly abnormal second toe is much longer than my big toe and didn’t fit into the toe socket. With that idea being a bust we checked out and headed for home. Unfortunately this last bit took 2 hours due to car wrecks on the highway, making me eager to get back to my video game fantasy world where traffic isn’t a problem.