What Was That Noise Outside The Tent?

Did you hear that? What was that noise outside the tent? Some possibilities:

A Bear
That noise was a bear. That bear is going to either interact with you in a violent manner, or leave you alone. Did you accidentally bring a Snickers bar inside the tent? Well, that’s proving to be a huge mistake, isn’t it? You’re going to die.

An Animal Much Smaller Than A Bear
That noise was a squirrel, or a mouse, or a pika, or some other animal so small it can’t kill you. You will likely not die tonight, but you will eventually, of course, die. We all do.

That noise was a fart. It was not outside the tent, it was inside the tent, coming from your tentmate. No matter how bad it smells, you will most likely not die from the smell. In the morning, you can talk to your tentmate about it, and you may exaggerate the potency of the smell for comic effect, i.e. “Jesus H Christ, Kevin, you farted in your sleep last night. What did you eat? I thought I was going to die.”

A Dipshit
That noise was that dipshit Terry, who got hammered and passed out in a camp chair next to the fire after an evening of loud pointless stories, interrupting, and annoying the shit out of everyone, and no one felt like waking him up before they all put out the campfire and turned in for the night. Terry has tipped over his camp chair and fallen to the ground. No one knows who invited Terry. You could get up and see if he’s OK, or you could recall that he vaguely insulted your career earlier, and then roll over in your sleeping bag and go back to sleep. I mean, he’s not going to die out there. Plus he’s an adult. An adult douchebag.

The Proverbial Tree Falling In The Forest
That noise was a tree falling in the forest, which would have made a sound whether you were here to hear it or not. Humans are not the only animals with a sense of hearing. You are probably not going to die unless the sound of it falling was really close to your tent, in which case you don’t have a hell of a lot of time to think about it, and certainly not enough time to unzip your sleeping bag, unzip the tent door, and run. So yeah, if that noise was a tree falling on your tent, you might die.

Your Anxieties, Which Are Best To Think About Between The Hours Of 1 a.m. And 4 a.m.
That noise was a gentle reminder from the universe to you, reminding you to worry about some stuff: Are you sure you locked your car at the trailhead? Did you definitely lock the door of your apartment? Shut the garage door? Did you pay your mortgage this month? Is your car overdue for an oil change? Are you really fulfilled in your job? Have you taken enough Instagram-worthy photos on this trip? Do you even like camping? None of these answers are going to cause you to die (at least not immediately), but if you don’t calm down and get back to sleep, you might feel like you’re dying from lack of rest tomorrow.

The Gears of the Machinations of Internet Communication
That noise was an email making its way across the internet and into your inbox, which, statistically speaking, is something likely to happen several times during your camping trip. Was it from your boss? A client? Was it one of the thrice-daily emails you receive from a hotel loyalty program? There’s no way of knowing, all the way out here in your tent in the middle of nowhere, far from cell service. Isn’t this horrible? Email is not going to kill you, but constantly worrying about it is probably kind of ruining your life, if you think about it.

Jason Voorhees
That noise was Jason Voorhees, a killer who wears a hockey mask and stalks his victims before killing them in a gruesome and sometimes rather creative manner. You will die in the next 60 to 90 minutes.

The Wind
That noise was just the wind or something, relax. Unless “something” means “Jason Vorhees” or “a bear,” because then you’re fucked.


More stories like this in my new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems, out now.