The Writing On The Wall
â€œPhilâ€™s an A-hole,â€ was one of the first inked-on-the-wall sentiments I noted as I hung our camping supplies in the shelter on Isle Royale.Â â€œHey Lover,â€ I said, â€œDid you know Phil is an A-hole?â€Â My husband, confused, said, â€œWhoâ€™s Phil?â€Â Heâ€™s charmingly rational like that.
As a rule Iâ€™m not a fan of graffiti.Â Setting any artistic offering aside, there is something that jars my value system when property is defaced.Â One obvious reason is that if my parents had caught me writing, painting, or carving my initials onto a tree, picnic table, brother, or bathroom wall I wouldnâ€™t have sat down comfortably for a while.
Another reason Iâ€™m bothered by mindless graffiti is that it is, well, so inane.Â Do I care if Phil is an A-hole?Â Nope.Â Do I care if S.B. has the hots for N. K.? Nope.Â Do I need to see teenage hormonal artwork depicting penises running after boobs?Â Well, okay, that one caught my attention for a minuteâ€¦ but no! I didnâ€™t need to see that Picasso wannabeâ€™s work on the ceiling over my sleeping bag night after night.
But, even as my biases stayed intact, I had to admit a grudging admiration for the humor represented on the walls as well.Â Many hikers/campers used the weathered wood shelter as a journal.Â There were tributes to anniversaries, to birthdays, to old friends, to mosquitos, and even to blister counts.
One trend I noted was to name the hiking event as a tour.Â Here are some of my favorites copied from our shelterâ€™s walls, ceilings, and floors:
â€œWe Brought Too Much Tourâ€ â€˜03
â€œBroken Gear Tour â€œ â€˜06
â€œThe Old Manâ€™s Got Something To Prove Tourâ€ (No date given.Â Maybe he didnâ€™t prove himself?)
â€œGuy Search Tourâ€ â€˜96
â€œThe White Knuckle Tourâ€ (ND)
One of the more touching wall etchings involved a sweet-sixteenâ€™s birthday.Â She and friends had hiked from one end of Isle Royale to the other over a period of nine days. In her entry she mentioned the pros and cons of not showering for nine days, of breaking in new hiking boots, of laughing until it hurt during late night tent conversations, and lastly of realizing she could do anything she set her mind to doing because of the experience.
I donâ€™t like graffiti, or the need to express oneâ€™s self on other peopleâ€™s property, trees, or rocks.Â But there was something revealing in the random text and drawings that pulled me in.Â Maybe it was the stillness of the campsite, or the way thoughts wander when not distracted by technology and electricity.Â I donâ€™t know.Â But now, after days of staring at the words, I do wonder if Phil is an A-hole.