True romance, camping style

Actual unretouched conversation preceding this post, over breakfast:

Me: Is it okay with you if I blog about last night?
Otto: *raises his eyebrows in the classic “Are you on crack?” gesture*
Me: No. No! Not, you know, ALL of last night. But… you know, the early parts.
Otto: *shakes his head slowly, wide-eyed, conveying that I’m trying to kill him*
Me: Otto! I just mean… you KNOW what I mean. I’m not going to say anything… inappropriate. But I know you’re descended from Puritans and easily embarrassed, SO I’M ASKING. If it’s going to mortally embarrass you, I won’t.
Otto: *sighing* It’s your site.
Me: Yes it is. But I don’t want to make you unhappy. If you really don’t want me to, I won’t. I can write about… squirrels.
Otto: It’s your site.
Me: You said that already.
Otto: *sighing again* I trust you.
Me: Do you?
Otto: Yes.
Me: Excellent.
Otto: *dropping his head into his hands* Oh, God.

The thing is, you understand, we’re without the kids. And we’re camping, which—although I’m still working while we’re away—is a vacation. Without kids! And we’re consenting adults who are married and love each other, and OH MY GOD OTTO THAT’S ALL I’M SAYING, CALM DOWN. (Also: Hi, Dad! I am of course referring to our desire to work on a crossword puzzle together!)

So last night we were lounging around and playing with the dog on our bed (otherwise known, in Licorice-speak, as ZOMGTHEBIGBED), and she hopped down and was playing with her ball on the dinette bench (remember, we have U-shaped seating around our table, and then up behind the U is where our bed folds out), and it’s possible that Otto and I then began, um, enjoying each other’s company while the dog was otherwise occupied.

But almost immediately, I became a little paranoid about the fact that the light was still on, because our bed is essentially housed in a tent-top and it occurred to me that in the dark, with the light on, it was possible that we were visible in silhouette to the rest of the campground. So I got up and turned off the light, which convinced Licorice that YAY, it’s bedtime! I get to sleep in the ZOMGTHEBIGBED! She hopped right up on the bed. Otto put her back down on the kitchen seating. We resumed smooching and she hopped back up again and immediately inserted herself between us, because clearly WE HAD FOOD, what with the mouth-noises and all. Otto put her back down on the kitchen seating. We told her to stay. We went back to each other and a few seconds later I felt a small furry creature army-crawling her way along my back until a wet nose was jammed into my ear (not Otto’s).

This was all about as romantic as you might imagine.

Otto got up and told Licorice to go to her crate, which of course caused her to burrow into me and go completely boneless. After a couple of capture attempts, Otto had her and stuffed her into the crate. She whimpered a little. Otto came back to bed and we looked at each other as the dog whimpered some more. “She’ll stop soon,” he whispered, resuming our attempt at a little quality time.

Two minutes later, just as the dog had finally fallen silent and things were, um, progressing nicely, my cell phone rang. The ringtone meant it was Chickadee. We glanced at the clock; 9:30ish.

Otto sighed. “Do you want to get it?” he asked.

“Nah,” I said, “She’s probably just calling to say goodnight. We can call them in the morning.” Eventually the ringing stopped. We soldiered onward.

A minute later, Chickadee called Otto’s phone. Only, Otto let her choose her ringtone on his phone, and she’d chosen the “barking dogs” one. I’d no sooner told Otto to ignore it than Licorice started barking and howling in response.

It took a few minutes to get Licorice calmed down. Then she resumed crying. We tried to ignore her and focus on each other.

Then my phone started chiming because—with no answer on either phone—Chickadee had decided to send me a text message, instead.

Needless to say, tonight we’re turning off all phones and drugging the dog. DON’T JUDGE ME.


  1. Christina

    Hahahahahahaha! I love it! When we had cats, they were terrible about wanting to be “part” of every intimate moment. I learned to enjoy having a cat on my head at certain times because it was better than other locations. ;)
    Hope tonight goes better!

  2. Randi

    LMAO – ha ha ha ha ha! Ya know, they write all sorts of parenting books about how to raise your child and how to get them to eat the right foods – how to help them to overcome fears and how to get them to do their chores/ect, but nowhere do you find a book that tells you how to “do crossword puzzles together” as a couple when you have a family! Someone needs to make one of those!!! LOL

  3. StephLove

    After your FB post, I kind of want to hear about the squirrels.

  4. Lynn in Mass

    Ha, ha ha! I love it!

  5. Liza

    Poor Otto! Not only does he have to live through the experience in real time, then discuss blogging it, then read about it on the blog.

    And poor Licorice. All that fun and none for her. Thank god you had a crate!

    I also want to hear about the squirrel.

  6. Damsel

    OMG I think you just gave us a new euphemism to use at our house.

    “Hey, honey, I think we have a new crossword puzzle upstairs…” *suggestive wiggly eyebrows*

    We had two cats early on in our marriage, and they HATED being shut out of the bedroom. They’d hurl themselves at the door, body-slamming it for a good fifteen minutes. Then, suddenly, they’d stop. We never could tell if they just gave up or concussed themselves… and we really didn’t care. ;)

  7. Aimee

    LMAO! Oh my god, this is TOO funny. We have two cats, and they do the same thing that Damsel’s do — they hurl themselves against the door. Or one of them will stick her freakishly strong paw under the door and rattle it in the frame. Solution? A rubber doorstop on the inside of the door. Doesn’t help with the hurling, but they do eventually get tired of doing that.

    PS — next time, just turn off the ringers.

  8. Headless Mom

    Bwahahahahahahahahah! Now *that* is a priceless vacation memory.

    Otto shouldn’t be embarrassed. Licorice should!

  9. Jessica

    Is there anyone who hasn’t had crossword-puzzle time interrupted by a stupid cell phone?

    I’m lucky on the interruption front, though. We just had one cat at one point, and she seemed disgusted by anything remotely related to crossword puzzles. If she were lying down in the same room where kissing (which everyone knows sometimes leads to crossword puzzles) started, she’d delicately jump down off her perch of the moment and huffily leave the room, flopping down audibly in another room. (We thought of it as the equivalent of teenagers saying, “Mooooooooooom, Daaaaaaaaaaaad! That’s disgusting!” whenever we’d kiss.)

  10. Jan

    When we were newly married, our ‘crossword puzzle’ time was interrupted once by a cold dog nose in the husband’s nether regions.

    Eighteen years and I’m not sure he’s recovered emotionally.

  11. Anna

    I am SO PARANOID about open blinds at night. Even at home. EEEK.

  12. Mare Martell

    Oh the joys of parenthood! Before my kids came to live with us, we had to deal with the cats and dog trying to help us do crosswords. They’re crappy spellers btw as well as believing that every word in a crossword puzzle is either woof or meow. We’d put the cats outdoors, the pup in the kitchen. And then we had a houseful of kids to contend with as well.

    Funny thing is, I figured out that my husband doesn’t like doing crossword puzzles when there are kids home. Which, unfortunately, is the majority of the time. So I’ve devised devious ways to get them to NOT be home. I love a good crossword puzzle so creativity ahoy!

  13. dad

    The lesson to be learned from crossword puzzles is that the the more you do them the better you get at it.
    Never stop improving yourself.

    Glad you’re having a good time.

  14. Kathy

    I’m in the middle of class, catching a sneak peek at your post, and trying not to LAUGH OUT LOUD!

    Thank you, Otto, for allowing this one out in the real world!! You’re the best!!

    I’m still laughing!!

    Ha ha ha ha ha … LOL … giggle …

  15. Megan

    And isn’t it just a little more disconcerting when the dog in question is black (or dark red as ours was)? Because it’s totally STEALTH DOG who can creep up veeeerrrry quietly and then suddenly be THERE in a COLD NOSE kind of way.

    Ah memories.

  16. Brigitte

    Tried to repress my laughter . . ’til I got to your dad’s comment! Hee!

  17. Katie in MA

    Dear All – What do you think it would take to persuade the entire squirrel population to surround their camper tonight and bang on pans? :-D

    Dear Mir – JUST KIDDING! And not just because I am too lazy and that sounds like a lotta work.

  18. Brandy

    It’s hard to have….crossword puzzle time when there’s a cat staring at you. Just saying. *g*

  19. Daisy

    Oh, dear. I think I’ll have to introduce this new phrase at home. Crossword puzzles, indeed. I’ll lock the pet rabbits out of our room first, though. They can nibble on the rest of the newspaper while we’re *ahem* busy playing word games.

  20. Joshilyn

    The best cat ever to live was Gompers. He had many affectionate pet-names, but his most Well Earned nickname?


    He vanished, became as SMOKE, every time Scott and I worked a crossword puzzle, but within SECONDS, like at most15 seconds, after we had, er, laid our pencils down, as it were, he would come bounding into the room and leap up to join us, purring and congratulatory, glad-handing about, delighted to join us in basking in the collective completed-crossword glow.

    I still miss him.

  21. cam

    BWAHA! Too funny. Here’s to better luck next time!

  22. Midj

    When my daughter was a Junior in HS, our crossword puzzle time was Sundays, after dinner. My daughter, in her cluelessness, had no idea. One evening, while we were hard at work deciphering the clues, she banged endlessly at the door to get permission to go out with friends. We laugh, now… :-)

  23. Wendalette

    Our kitten used to stealth crawl under the sheets whilst we engaged in crossword puzzle time…once she wrapped her tiny paws around his leg and inserted her tiny razor teeth and claws into his skin just as he…deciphered a clue.

    She was banished from the bedroom until she learned that our…activities…were not for her interactive entertainment and she could occupy herself.

  24. Holly

    Oh my gosh, TOO funny! So glad Otto let you share! ;-)

  25. Deb

    Love Dad’s advice that the the more crossword puzzles that you do the better you get.

    And the best part of camping? Watching the late night shadow theater of newbie campers or those that just don’t care :)

  26. Linda Sherwood

    We own a little black dog named Lilly that feels it is her job to protect our home and all that is inside it. This requires her to get quite loud about sounds that she may or may not hear. A couple of years ago, the kids were all in the living room watching TV when my husband and I were deciphering a crossword puzzle in our room. Lilly apparently felt the crossword puzzle was dangerous, and she was throwing a little mini fit outside our room in her attempt to protect the children from the crossword puzzle solving going on inside. It’s hard to keep kids clueless when Lilly was trying so hard to help with the solving of the crossword puzzles.

  27. Tracy B

    That’s is way funnier than I first imagined. I’ve been “camping WITHOUT kids” before! ;o)

  28. Jenna

    Hysterical! Thanks for the laugh! (Dad’s comment too, HA!)

  29. The Mommy Therapy

    Ummm…your Dad’s comment is supremely fantastic. I just love him.

    Our dog used to jump on the bed during crossword puzzles. He never made a sound though so we didn’t know he was there until he made some sort of contact, usually with my husband, which always frightened him and grossed him out. Fear and disgust are never good for finishing a puzzle.

    Enjoy your “alone” time!

  30. Cele

    Crossword puzzles, all the way around… omg! it’s like blogging voyeurism in a pop-up tent… drats that made it worse. The howling was totally acceptable, I mean it is a full moon…. too funny and better you than me – I’m more into suduko.

  31. kim

    The cold nose – check. But the best was the time my poochums decided to sing along with me during the final clue.

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