Wednesday, February 11, 2015

20. Shelter Sardines

There's a game called "Sardines" that's basically a reverse Hide and Seek. In Hide and Seek, everyone hides, and one person tries to find all the little hidden people. But in Sardines, only one person hides, and everyone looks for that person. When you find the hidden person, you have to try and squish yourself into their hiding place with them, as quietly as possible. Each additional person has to try and cram into the hiding place, which gets harder and harder with each additional person. For example, if someone is hiding in a cabinet, then each extra person has to just squash into the cabinet, probably unsuccessfully. There'll be legs and arms all over the place.

This means that eventually the hiding place is no longer secret at all, simply due to all the humans crouching in a pig pile of suppressed giggles. Whoever is the last person to find the sardines becomes "it", and they have to hide for the next game. You have to play this game with people either you know really well, or are ready to get to know really well. Once you've had your head jammed in someone's armpit for a sustained period of time, you're either going to be friends forever or you will never speak again.

We've spoken a fair amount about shelters, and how they're basically really great. They're nothing but three drafty wooden walls in the middle of a bunch of trees, they're cesspools of disease, and they're full of mice. But when there's terrible weather outside, shelters look like palatial oases fit for a king. Or, to be more accurate, a whole bunch of kings, all showing up at different times and trying to fit into the palace. With each new person, there's less and less room, and everyone gets to know each other better and better. You haven't lived until you've genuinely appreciated the warmth and security of being in a line of 15 strangers all spooning one another against their will. 

Here's the lovely thing about the Appalachian Trail: I never encountered someone being obstinate about their space in the shelter. Sure, when hikers first set up their sleeping bags and sleeping pads, they spread out a little bit, holding on to the initial vain hope that perhaps the shelter will only have 3 or 4 occupants that night. It's possible that this could happen, and in fact later into the summer this gets more and more likely. After the bugs come out people start opting more regularly for their tents, not wanting to have their skin exposed to the open air and mosquito feasting. 

However, when it's cold and rainy or snowing, people want the shelter and they want it BAD. It was really quite lovely to see that every hiker understood this, and wanted to be able to make room for as many other hikers as possible. Each one of us has been the last person to show up at a shelter in a rainstorm, hoping against hope that there's just enough space for one more skinny hiker body. 

If this was the real game of Sardines, no one would ever become "it", because there would always be room.* 

Clever Girl

*Except for when there's not, and you and Dumptruck have to tent outside in an ice storm!

1 comment:

  1. Dude, I've never heard of the game Sardines and now I really wanna play it!!!