Where’s the damn tent?

The tent
By forgettable emmet

Any fool can go camping. Try it without a tent.
Do it twice and the world brands you an idiot. I am (half) innocent. ( I did make “coffee” without coffee this morning.)
I Ran into a former chief justice and gubernatorial candidate (no names, please) Saturday night in Rockland. He introduced me as “the guy who forgot the tent” on a long-ago Allagash trip. Unfair. In my summation, I argued that I brought the tent, but “we” all forgot to unload it when our ride to the North Woods arrived.
This tradition started (I think it was 30 years ago) when Bailey, Weber and I decided on an adventurous trip to Rangeley Lake. It was very, very early in my camping career, a harbinger of things to come. I was (still am) assigned as the quartermaster a job which included cooking and sleeping equipment.
When we got to Rangeley (my car) and unpacked the gear, there was a noticeable item missing. No tent. Honest to God within five minutes the ranger drove by and asked how we were doing. He could tell.
Bailey and Weber narced me in a half-second although they could have noticed the missing tent before we left Camden. Ranger Rick laughed and said “happens every day.” He drove away, laughing and came back with a perfectly suitable tent, saving me (sort of) years of grief. Actually, Bailey reminded me of the incident this week.
It was 30 years ago.
That wound was freshly scraped Saturday night, when David Grima actually bought dinner at Archer’s Restaurant overlooking the Rockland harbor. Blue Eyes recognized the former chief justice (who shall remain nameless) and we had to go over and say hello.
He came back to our table later and confessed his sins. When people asked who I was, he characterized me as “The guy who forgot the tent,” on our Allagash trip.
“An unfair allegation, your honor,” I argued. The truth was that I packed the tent into the vehicle (my car, again) for the trip. When “we” unloaded that car for the drive into Long Lake, the tent remained hidden under some blankets or other camping detritus.
We didn’t discover that flaw until we decamped after a very long day of paddling. They don’t call it Long Lake for nothing. At Long Lake Dam, Jefferson Phil, the Maine Guide who led the trip said he would start dinner if I would set up the tent.
I looked. It wasn’t in canoe one. It wasn’t in canoe two. Phil is a born rascal and I assumed he had hidden the tent as a joke. No joke. No tent. Somehow I got all the blame for the next four tentless nights in the wilderness. Thank God, it never rained. It did rain plenty of abuse, however. I think Maine Guide Phil had some success hanging tarps over the sleeping bag area.
Maine Guide Phil came perilously close to paddling that chief justice (no names, please) over Allagash Falls, but I got all the grief for the missing tent.
On Saturday night, I reminded that former chief justice of his judgment when we finally paddled back to the car in Allagash Village. “If there is no tent in that car you are an (expletive deleted.) If there is a tent in that car, we are all (same expletive, plural deleted).”
Not guilty, your honor. I am a victim.
Still.