I love people. Well, to be entirely accurate, I love watching people. Not in a creepy I-looked-in-your-window-last-night-and-watched-you-brush-your-teeth kind of way, but in a sit-on-a-bench-at-the-mall-and-take-in-all-the-madness kind of way. I find that all people are fascinating and hysterical and strange; our weirdness is what defines us as a species and I can never get enough of that weirdness.
When I can’t get to the mall to get my people watching fix, I click on a reality TV show. I love reality TV. Not the shows where people are looking for a husband and definitely not the ones where women who profess to be “real” housewives throw wine on overly-Botoxed friends. Not that those women aren’t entertaining, but all that hair-pulling and wine-throwing makes me overly excited and then I have a hard time sleeping, like I just drank a Red Bull and chased it with a Mountain Dew (oddly enough, the same thing happens when I ride elevators; it’s just too much excitement for me). No, I usually prefer to watch stuff that mimics my own boring life, like shows about cooking and home buying.
My newest reality TV obsession is anything about Alaska. For years I had simply dismissed Alaska as the place where ice comes from, but all the time it was this incredibly wild and untamed frontier. To be clear, I have no desire to go to Alaska; any place winter lasts nine months out of the year, is a place I don’t need to visit. (When the temperature dips into single digits where I live I launch an intense letter writing campaign to my congressman because I’m a taxpayer and I shouldn’t have to be burdened with temperatures with only one number in them. So far, there has been no legislation regarding single-digit weather, but I did get a little magnetic notepad with the congressman’s face on it, so I feel I’ve made some progress.) No, it’s just much too cold in Alaska for my taste, but I am completely captivated by the people who brave those Alaskan winters.
Luckily for me there are approximately three dozen shows on TV about Alaska so I can do all the people watching I want from the comfort of my couch. And the people of Alaska are fascinating. A lot of these people live off the grid—no running water, no electricity; they hunt and fish and grow vegetables; they barter for goods and they make what they need with their own hands. These people are everything I’m not and I decided I wanted to become more like them.
I told my husband about my plan be more like an Alaskan.
“I want us to live off the grid,” I announced.
“You want to haul water in buckets and use an outdoor bathroom?” he asked incredulously.
“Ok, I’m going to amend my previous announcement: let’s stay on the grid but live more like hunter/gatherers. Hunter/gatherers who have indoor plumbing,” I said, because I’ve always been fond of hot water and toilets that flush.
“You’re going to hunt and gather?” he asked with amusement.
“Yes, I want to forage and hunt and fish,” I said, now consumed with the primal urge to supply my family with food without stopping at the conveniently located grocery store down the street.
“Where are you going to hunt?” he asked.
“There’s that farm on the other side of town with all those cows. I’m sure I could sneak up and get the jump on one of them. That lady on the Alaska show killed a grizzly with her bare hands, surely I can get the better of an old dairy cow,” I said.
“Honey, I once saw a package of all-beef hotdogs get the better of you,” he said.
“That package was hermitically-sealed; no one could have gotten those hotdogs out,” I said defensively. “Anyway, I already started foraging today. Look, fresh kale!” I said holding up the prize of my forging labors.
“You didn’t forage for that, you took it from the organic neighbors garden,” my husband surmised.
“Hey, they’re the ones who planted a garden in their front yard; if they wanted to protect their crops from renegade gatherers such as myself, they would have put it in the safety of their backyard,” I said smugly.
“You would have just climbed the fence,” he said while shaking his head.
“I don’t have time for this, I need to learn how to field dress a cow before I go hunting tomorrow,” I said as I started Googling hunting tips.
Three gruesome hunting websites later, I found myself at the grocery store purchasing a pre-hunted and pre-packaged cow for dinner (aka steak).