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09/08/2006 - 8:08 p.m.

IT'S ALL ABOUT PORT JERVIS

The father of a long-ago boyfriend of mine used to tell him that, if he wanted to know whether a girl was THE girl, he should take her to the beach. If she still looked really good to him at the end of the day, he should marry her. I think I believe in a variation on this concept. If you want to know whether a guy is the guy for you, take him camping. If, after the whole weekend, he still looks good to you, marry him. All I ever needed to know about FogieKnight, I learned during camping trips. It's all a matter of priorities---HIS priorities. I learned that in Port Jervis and it has not changed over the years (although, luckily for our marriage, he often hides it well.)

When we lived in Brooklyn, we used to get out of the city by driving to the Poconos to camp. We would pack up the little gray Ford Escort with a three-man tent (which would only have fit three men if all of them were very, very small), sleeping bags, a cheap air mattress (our one luxury item), a tarp, and a cooler, a few clothes, and off we would go. The first time we went to Port Jervis, we were headed for a New Jersey state park with a camping area but when we got there, the place was full.

"There is an old boy scout camp down the road," the park ranger told us. "They just converted it to a camp ground and you could try there." So off we went. Up the mountain to a remote site. No one was there. No one had discovered it yet. There were signs about how to check in—and we did because it was getting late. It seemed clean but it seemed empty. Really empty. Horror-movie empty. Nevertheless, being young and foolish, we decided to stay. It seemed clean enough and it seemed nice enough.

We put up our tent and then, as frequently happens to me, nature called. I went over to what looked like newly-built bathrooms. No luck. The door was locked. I came back and reported on the locked door. FogieKnight was sympathetic but had no real suggestions other than the obvious so I found a nice bush, did what I needed to do, and continued setting up.

A little while later, FogieKnight had a similar problem. To my surprise, he went off to the bathrooms. To my greater surprise, he fiddled with a credit card, opened the locked door, and went inside. My curiosity got the better of me. "Where did you learn to do that?" I asked him. "A client taught me when I locked myself out of my office," he responded.

Then, of course, the real question occurred to me. "Why didn't you do that for me?" I asked. And his answer said it all. "I didn't think of it until I had to go." And there you have it. Priorities. Luckily for him, we had a wonderful weekend after that and, at some point, someone did come to run the place.

But still, I was not surprised by what happened the other night. I remembered Port Jervis.

For most of the summer I had wanted FogieKnight to find the drivers so that I could load them onto my laptop and then use the printer in his office (which really is my dining room but that's a sad tale for another day.) For most of the summer I had waited in vain. But this week he did it. He forgot his laptop at work and needed to scan something to put in a program for a stamp show. (With him, it's always about a stamp show.) I generously loaned him my computer but he suddenly realized that he could not do what he wanted without finding the drivers and loading them onto my computer. So he did.

When he told me he had finally gotten my computer squared away, I couldn't resist asking. "Why now?"

He answered with two words, "Port Jervis."

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