Tents are made of flimsy lightweight plastic.  This little layer of plastic is good enough to block off wind and rain, and yet light enough to easily transport.  However, as we know full well back in the ol’ US, its not much protection from a hungry bear in the woods.  If that bear gets of whiff of food in your tent, sayonora sucker.  It’ll rip it apart like a surfer rips into a taco after a mega-long sesh.  For some reason, however, this piece of fabric is apparently invulnerable to a 400 lb lion.  I mean, if our guide said so it must be true.  Course, after riding all day in the serengeti looking at the suckers from the protection of our badass 1970 Land Cruiser Defender, I had a pretty good idea of how big their teeth and claws were.  Especially when I saw them chewing apart a buffalo like it was strawberry cheesecake.
 
When night fell, and the guides set up our tents in the middle of the bush, it suddenly occurred to me that the pussycats were actually still out there.  Like, hello Mr. Guide Dude, um, aren’t we supposed to be behind a fence or something?  Or isn’t someone supposed to stay up with a gun?  Can you at least hand me a butter knife or something?  Apparently the answer was nope and nope and "um…ok weird white-man.  Here ya go"  But our guide assured us that if you stay in your tent you should be pretty safe.  Should be pretty safe.  Upon further examination, "should" is not an absolute term, and "pretty" is used when something isn’t quite 100%.  Its only "pretty much."  As the sky grew dark and weird noises began coming from the plains, I lay in my sleeping bag, ears pricked, and pondered exactly what these wiggle words meant.  Did it mean we were 90% likely to survive the night, or did it mean that, statistically speaking, about 50% of the tourists generally end up with random minor pieces missing from their body.
 

At midnight catastrophe struck.  The bladder (which obviously wasn’t connected to my brain) demanded that I go outside and pee for a minute or two.  Damn those bottles of water!!  I sat up and listened intently.  This was a bad idea…there was huffing and some kind of moaning going on.  Noises like something stepping on grass could be heard.  A weird kind of laughing howl noise would occasionally occur, sometimes very close.  Dunno about you, but my imagination was pretty good when I was a little kid, esp. when it was the middle of the night.  Well, this was much worse, as instead of my imagination I only had to go back to my short-term memory of a few hours ago when I saw the cats eating their 3-course dinner.  I started regretting my fascination with the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.
 
You know the moment before you skydive or bungy jump?  The people who just go and do it right away without thinking are best off.  The people who hesitate for just a second are doomed, they get stuck thinking about it and that’s that.  So with this sort of thinking I was about to reach for the zipper and do it…when suddenly I heard something right outside.  I froze….I heard something breathing closely, then through the faint light of the ranger station I saw some kind of shadow come up to the tent.  An arm or something suddenly pushed at my tent, brushing it.  I was shitting myself a watermelon.  Then all hell broke loose and whatever IT was started brushing and shaking the tent.  Lord knows what it wanted….I froze in a panic and just sat there.  Where the hell was that damn butter knife?!  Then just as quickly it stopped and whatever IT was wandered off.  Holy christ shiva buddhist shiite muslims!!  Even though my bladder was ready to do some nuclear fission, I didn’t do a thing.
 
Finally, after dozing for about 3 hours, it was 5am and I decided that enough was enough.  I listened and heard nothing.  I unzipped the tent and shone my crappy LED headlamp around.  No eyeballs looked  back. Just sat there, waiting.  I made a break for it.  Peed with one hand while I shone the light around with the other for an agonizing couple minutes.  Finally, I jumped back in the tent and got my 2 hours of sleep.
 
Next time I order a steak, I’m going to say a little thanks I’m on this side of the knife.
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