Beauty or Brains?

If someone can show me the full-amenity indoor bathroom and tell me the number to dial for turn-down service, this is the kind of camping I could get excited about.

My sister and I are about 8 years apart in age and we are vastly different beings.

I am older and wiser. (ie. I have more grey hair and love handles). She is blonde (with the help of a little Loreal) and I am brunette. She is short (5 foot even – though she claims 5′ 2″- and we all nod and smile encouragingly while rolling our eyes at each other behind her back), and I am tall(er) at 5′ 5″. I’m know I was 5′ 6″ at one point but I seem to have somehow shrunk over the years, and I have no idea where the inch went.

It’s generally agreed that she got the looks in the family and I got the brains. (By ‘generally agreed,’ I mean by me.)

My father and my mother seem to think she got both the looks and brains and I’ve just pretty much wasted my prime years perusing J Crew cataloges and visiting Anthropologie stores while mastering the complexities of social media and decorating houses. But what are parents for if not to blow their opinions off as senile and absurd? So that’s what I do.

Our grandmother won’t commit on subjects like these, she’s considered our family’s version of Switzerland and will probably take her true opinions with her to the grave, and I love her all the more for it.

Regardless, for the purpose of this post my sister is the pretty-but-sometimes-dense member of the family. With that in mind, I’d like to recount to you a conversation we had recently.

My sister rented a cabin in our town with some girlfriends and spent the week doing what young women do best; eating out, sleeping in, drinking cocktails and lying on the beach sun bathing. At the end of the week her friends left town she came to stay with us for the weekend, before heading back to her life in her own town a few hours away.

We went out to lunch together and were chatting about her week, when I asked her about the accommodations at the cabin. I am not a fan of any kind of camping – especially when it’s made to sound like it’s a more exclusive experience than camping – like when people call it a cabin but what they really mean is a tent with firmer walls.

To me, unless your cabin has a/c, cable TV, fancy soaps in the bathroom and daily maid service – it’s camping – and no fancy siding or stylish roof line will convince me otherwise.

We had started this discussion about how cabins were still roughing it (in my world) before she went on the trip, and she had tried to convince me of the luxurious level of these particular cabins, adding that they even had air conditioning! I have to be honest it had impressed me, so now I wanted to know what other luxuries were on offer that I didn’t know about.

I mentioned the a/c and asked how the stay was overall, her response went something like this:

The first day we got there there was a horrible smell in the cabin (just as I suspected – glammed up camping is still camping!) and there was no air conditioning or seaside views as had been promised in the photos when we booked, so we went up to the reception area and complained. They responded instantly, assuring us they would move us to a suitable replacement.

We went out that day and when we got back they had moved all our stuff for us into a nicer, more modern cabin, and it did have the a/c wall unit and the ocean views from the deck, so we were pleased.

We got changed and showered and decided to go out for the night and in preparation of our homecoming later, we turned on the a/c to full power to make sure the cabin was nice and cool when we got home and we were trying to sleep.

We got home many hours later (it was a big night!) about 3am, and the place was stinking hot and smelled of something burning!  We had to open the windows to let the hot summer night air in, just to be able to breathe comfortably.

We had seen a sign on the a/c unit asking us to never leave it on when we were out of the cabin, but we had ignored it, assuming it was a cost-saving measure. Now we were panicking, had we done something to the unit leaving it on for so long in our absence?

Had running it for so long unattended somehow overheated the unit? We didn’t want to get into trouble or have to pay for it, so we turned it off and sweltered our way through the rest of the week without mentioning it to the staff.”

The day we left when returning the keys, the guy at the front desk asked if our stay lived up to our expectations?

I made the comment that the a/c hadn’t worked for the entire stay and the guy looked at me with confusion. “we don’t have a/c in our cabins” he said.

I argued with him, “I saw it in the photos when booking online, and we definitely have one, it just wasn’t working.”

“I can assure you, none of our cabins come with a/c.” he responded. I started to get irritated, thinking that instead of offering an apology or some kind of refund, he was being difficult and rude. “Well, what do you call the big unit with the on/off switch on the wall that blows out air?” I retorted.

He looked at me with a huge grin. “I call it a heater. All our premier cabins come with those.” “Oh,” I said, “Well, that explains the burning smell…”

I know the guy at the desk was going to enjoy the memory for the rest of the afternoon, so humiliating!

This story sent me into gales and gales of laughter, because of course it proved my point. There is no such thing as luxury camping, or camping with amenities, and that’s why no one will ever get me out there.


Even better, it proved my point that despite my parents obvious disappointment at my lack of achievements in life, I’m still the smarter one.

As an added benefit, I get to repeat this story to all her friends and future children over the coming decades – not to mention the blogosphere – and we can all have a chuckle at her expense. As a sibling, it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Disclaimer: My sister has a very important job earning lots of money and by all accounts her boss thinks she is brilliant. Still, she’s my little sister, so to me she will never be allowed to be smarter than me – it’s simply not possible – right Beck? 😉

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29 thoughts on “Beauty or Brains?

  1. mark says:

    Hilarious! I have to sibling story that’s similar. My older sister went to buy new tires for her car several years ago. It was an old car and had white walls and she wanted to just replace them with the same. When they were finished and gave her the keys she was mortified and exclaimed, “I wanted white walls, not blue walls!” Of course, the protective blue coating washes off but she embodied her blondness and it’s a story that has been retold many times.


    • Oh Mark I love your story. I was in stitches. Your poor sister, that’s definitely not one she will ever live down. I bet the guys at the yard are still talking bout it!


    • Sabhan says:

      This material has oboulisvy been taken directly from’s weekly domain sale report, with no credit given to the original source of the content you are reprinting. Taking other’s content without permission or attribution and passing it off as your own is unethical at the least and illegal in most countries around the world.


  2. Tina says:

    Hey, good to read you again!


  3. Stonehead says:

    Gravity. That’s where the extra inch went. When I joined the army, aged 18, I was 180cm/5′ 10″ tall. Now, somewhere past 45, I’m 176.4cm/5′ 9″ tall. Well, it’s either gravity or too many rocks fall on my head while climbing, which would explain where my brains went, too.


  4. Elyse says:

    Brilliant. It’s the lasting value of the story that is best. And I’m with you on the camping. Camping in the backyard as a kid was fun. Take me to the woods, jungle, cliff, wherever. But give me a damn bed at the end of it and some AC when it is hot. And as a grown up, I don’t go anywhere without a flush toilet..


  5. We camped in the national parks every summer when we were kids – skunks running under cots – hauling water – the works…why my brother refuses to stay in any thing that remotely looks rustic – and the pool isn’t heated. I hear that “Glamping” thing in California is quite luxurious (fad last summer, wrote post about it somewhere), but still not sure about it! (Require nice bed, hot water, and AC / heater at the end of the day…and I want to take off my shoes and feel clean floor under my sockies!)


  6. maltena says:

    Great story. Funny. One thing I would disagree with is that camping is such a bad thing. The simplicity, and the struggle for comfort is what makes it so rewarding. If you spend long enough out there, and adapt to those discomforts, the beauty of your surroundings become the most amazing experience. Far more incredible than the beauties found from living in the city, or just one day spent in the woods. At first this may seem farcical, but if you are to keep an observant mind about anything, this should be it. The amount we can learn from the non-manmade world that surrounds us far exceeds – in value – what can be learned from other sources of knowledge/wisdom. Again, great read. Thanks for the laugh.

    A man’s interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the fauna and flora of a town.
    – Henry David Thoreau


    • I love that quote by Henry David Thoreau, and I hadn’t heard it before, thank you!

      I do agree with you on appreciating and experiencing the outdoors, and I am a huge fan of the natural world as it is – I’m as ‘eco’ and ‘organic’ as it comes. I believe we mess way to much with the earth and the natural order of things for my liking and frankly it often ends up in a mess as a result!

      I just feel I have ‘done my time’ in the outdoors (years ago when I was younger) and prefer to spend my evenings in a warm bed! I do love and appreciate nature during daylight hours thought, and thoroughly admire and support those who choose to spend their evenings braving the great outdoors as well – just from afar! 😉


  7. Dor says:

    A funny story! And I’m with you on the camping stuff. Now I feel smart too but not getting the respect I expect. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.


  8. Luxury camping?? There is no such thing. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

    My idea of camping includes room service and a heated pool. Indoors, at that.

    This was priceless!! And I’m the oldest of 3 girls in my family and we all have ‘titles’ for us.

    I’m the favorite daughter (cause I’m fun).

    Then there’s the smart daughter (cause she’s damn near a rocket scientist).

    Then there’s the special daughter (cause she had heart surgery at 7 months old and 30 years later STILL thinks she’s special).

    I bet you and your sister are a hoot when ya’ll get together!


    • NO surprises that you are the favorite, I assume if anyone else in the family tried to take your title, you’d take them out! Love the list of titles though – especially “30 years later she still thinks shes special…” hilarious!


  9. etomczyk says:

    We are of one mind on this camping stuff. If God had wanted me to camp, he would have made me a bug! When I was looking for a husband, I made a list and at the top of the list was: must not like to camp — a deal breaker! God heard my prayer! 🙂


    • Elyse says:

      Camping wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me — unless he wanted me to go too!

      (Disclosure here, which I had suppressed. My husband gave me a sleeping bag for my birthday 4 months after we were married. My birthday is in January. We live in the northern hemisphere. It has never been outdoors.)


      • etomczyk says:

        LOL! I have never even been in a sleeping bag. I wouldn’t know the first thing about how they operate and Lord knows I don’t want to know. My idea of camping (old joke) is a Hampton Inn with a Black and White TV. 😉


        • Elyse says:

          Yes, he has made better choices. But we’ve been together for 25 years and the duds are outnumbered by the good gifts.

          Although there have been classics, but I can’t write about them because he reads my blog just often enough to make sure I don’t write much about him!


          • My husband realized at 10pm on Christmas eve as he was finishing work in 2010 that he had forgotten to get me a Christmas gift. I ended up with a magazine, pez dispenser and an elvis beanie baby (I didnt even know what they were until I was ‘gifted’ with one) from the local walgreens.

            It was one thing for me to never let him live it down, but his coworkers asked him right after Christmas what he had gotten me at such short notice…when he told them they were horrified – they mention it to him ALL THE TIME.

            And this at a time he owned and worked in a liquor store – for Gods sake, a bottle of your best bubbly at very least would have softened the blow!!! Not his finest hour!


            • Elyse says:

              But, Karyn, no Elvis collection is complete without the Beanie Baby. Men really are clueless sometimes.

              Actually mine gives me books. Books that he will never read. Truly wonderful books — about 20 a year. And in 25 years, he’s given me 2 I didn’t like. He has “a gift.”


    • Ahh now I forgot to pray on that one, but God did me a small one anyway, by giving me a guy who would have all the right camping gear and never use it (nor ask me to use it) in all the 10 years of marriage. That’s what I call a true miracle! 😉


  10. Katriina says:

    I love it when brothers and sisters provide excellent material like that! Unfortunately, in our family I’m usually the source of the story, not the storyteller… 😦


    • Actually, as surprising as it may seem, I’m with you, Im usually the one that produces the material. That’s why I had to take this one and run with it while I could – it was too great an opportunity! 😉


  11. […] wasn’t until Karyn’s (An Observant Mind) April 20th post that I started to think something wasn’t right. What you see if you subscribe to The Life of […]


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