The story is a crock - as anyone who has ever seen me kill a moose, clean a fish or build a storm-worthy shelter out of nothing but twigs and leaves could tell you.
But Mr. Kamikaze never gets tired of telling people how I sat down in the middle of a hiking trail and cried because I thought we were lost. I had seen Deliverance. And read the book.
It was a a pre-kids, pre-suburbs, backcountry, backpacking experience that transported us deep into all of our future grievances.
But his version - and he's been seeding it into the public record for 20 years - is a little short on key facts: there was no "middle of the trail" because he had steered us off the trail and refused to admit it.
Still, people tend to believe him. I have mostly given up trying to defend myself.
But enough is enough. This year, I'm heading off for a backpacking adventure in which I can prove once and for all that I have the stuff for the kind of rugged, no-frills, adventure travel that --
"Wait," interrupts Mr. Kamikaze. "Rugged? No-frills?"
"Backpacking," I say. "Only no backpack. They're too touristy I think. The spirit of backpacking, but carrying something more like the Coach bookbag. In black leather."
"That I would like to see," he says. He is not talking about the bag. He's talking about me sleeping on the ground, eating out of a can or living for two weeks out of a carry-on bag with less than 3 ounces of hair care product.
Well paperboy, I can't wait to see your face when the pictures come back. I already have my hair products picked out.
In one week, I will begin a grueling 14-day (spirit of) backpacking adventure across Europe, or at least the French parts accessible by train, accompanied by only a single member of my posse, our teenage daughters and a professional photographer who has agreed to document every hardship, but who will not step in to rescue us, no matter how much we eat, drink or mangle our attempts to flirt with French booksellers.
I'm not saying we'll end up in an IMAX film, but as far as I know, Jon Krakauer hasn't yet attempted the transatlantic crossing with middle schoolers.
I will send back postcards from whatever grimy little accomodations we come across as we make our way across the roughest parts of Paris, where the cobblestones lie in wait to destroy our shoes and there is every danger that we will be wearing all the wrong clothes.
Photo: How long does it take to make a mimosa? --No one who has ever vacationed with me - or seen my hair first thing in the morning - has any doubts about my ability to rough it.