You know what really brings a group of people together in the outdoors? No, not the person with all the compelling stories or funny jokes. No, not a shared love of some method of locomotion such as climbing or mountain biking.
Me. Campfire. That’s what brings people together. I’m not trying to be arrogant about it. I think it’s a pretty defensible fact. Let’s just say you’re out in the desert in November, hanging out with all your friends in your puffy jackets, and the sun goes down and the temperature starts to drop from 55 to 45 to 35. Are you huddling around your shared love of rock climbing for warmth, or around your friend with all the funny stories? Shit no, your ass is creeping ever closer to me, the fire.
That’s right. I’m right in the middle, the life of the party, or more accurately, the force of nature that more or less enables the party to be outside instead of inside. Grab a camp chair, have a seat, and watch me do my thing. Pretty entertaining, isn’t it? Uh huh. Back in civilization you need an iPhone, iPad, and a virtual river of Game of Thrones episodes coming through your television or you sit around and whine about being bored, but oh, look who’s out camping and is TOTALLY GODDAMN MESMERIZED by a bunch of flaming logs: that’s right, you. You can evolve to learn how to get pretty much anything you want through a touchscreen, but have you figured out how to stop staring at fire during those cold nights when you don’t have 3G/LTE service? That’s what I thought.
You wanna make a cake out in the middle of nowhere? Bring me a Dutch oven and some charcoal and I’ll hook you up. Yes, it’s not quite as amazing as a cake baked in the oven at your house, but take a look around at all those grubby people spooning pineapple upside-down cake out of a Dutch oven fresh out of a campfire such as myself and tell me they don’t look pretty goddamn grateful.
Do I sound egotistical? Well, forgive me for puffing up my chest a little bit at basically revolutionizing the entire world. You like cheeseburgers? Combustion engines in your car? Summer? Thank fire.
“Oh, but man discovered fire.” Right, man discovered fire like white people discovered America. FYI, fire was out here burning shit for millions of years before you dragged your ass out of the ocean and started walking on two legs (which took a while, I might add). Yes, you have invented computers, the internet, and memes, but here we are, out in nature, and you and your friends are all huddled around me like planets around the sun (which also is on fire, if you forgot).
I don’t mind having this incredible magnetism. I rather enjoy people and your conversations. So throw another log on me, and let’s have a little party. I’m happy to provide what I can so your camp-out thing can be more fun—let’s toast some marshmallows, hot dogs, whatever. But let me point out that beer bottles and aluminum foil are actually not combustible in your typical campfire, in case you forgot basic chemistry from high school.
Is it getting colder out there, or is it just me? Come on in and get a little closer. But not too close. Is that someone’s hiking boot soles I smell melting? Remember Icarus. And remember that although I’m handsome, charming, and comforting, I will melt things like your puffy jacket, shoes, and skin if you’re not careful. Yes, I’m sure there is a metaphor there for a past relationship you’ve had, thank you, that’s very astute of you.
Anyway, let’s hang out again soon.