When the call of the wild comes, I let it ring

I have always loved the great outdoors. It’s one of my favorite things to watch on TV. The Discovery Channel is good for that.

Somehow, when I was born, I did not receive the camping gene – or as it is known to geneticists, “Tormentus Unnecessarius.”

After all, when “the call of nature” comes beckoning in the middle of the night, isn’t it nicer to arise and confidently walk barefoot over hardwood floors, linoleum or shag carpet into a room with modern plumbing than hip-hopping through pine needles, jagged pebbles and ant hills toward a two-foot latrine?

For schlubs like me, the outdoor store – Cabela’s – has about as much appeal as the Space Needle does to an acrophobiac; an eggplant to a cannibal; a porcupine to a balloon.

It probably goes back to childhood.

Many summers ago, I recall “camping out” with my younger brothers. We’d spend most of the afternoon pitching our tent. By nightfall, we were so exhausted that we immediately climbed into our sleeping bags and drifted off.

But then, around 10 o’clock or so, we would be awakened by a sound.

A wolf? A cougar? A bear?

Or perhaps, an escaped killer? With a hook for a hand? Or two of them?

We weren’t sure what the exact threat was, but we instinctively knew what we needed to do to survive. We raced out the front flap of the tent as fast as we could and ran.

The full 15 feet – into the house.

Our parents didn’t seem surprised to see us. They were, after all, up watching television. “Way to go, guys,” said dad as we burst in the front door. “You only made it to 9:30 last time.”

Turns out the neighbor’s cat was creeping around out there. Well, it was a kitten at the time, but it already had a murderous look.

Since summer is now at hand on the greater Eastside, and some of you feel you must go camping somewhere, here are three unsolicited tips:

• Experts say the ideal location for a tent is on a slight incline, so that rainwater will drain down the hill. I say an even better location is about 20 feet from a nice motel.

• Pointing your tent toward the south or east will give you the morning sun. However, the motel suite will give you the morning newspaper and a continental breakfast.

• Be sure to place your campsite near drinking water. Or stay at the motel: Easy walking distance to a mini-bar.

Either way, happy camping.