It's not about the house.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Take A Long Draw on the Skull Bong and Recant the Tale of the Master... Part 2.

Some time ago, never mind how long precisely (okay, it was July 18) I wrote a post about all the jobs I'd ever held, and I gave it this same title. I said the title had come from one of those jobs and dared people to guess which one, and then I completely forgot to ever give the answer.
I know, I know. So unlike me. I'm the master of the details and organizisation these days, amn't I?

The thing is, only three people guessed answers -- and two of those guesses didn't come in for three days after I put the post up, so I didn't think anybody really cared. But today I got an email from that one person who placed her guess on the the same day, and she's fed up with waiting for an answer.

The other thing is, one of those two late people got it right, only she seems not to know it, and she freakin' worked there!

Here's the story:

*          *         *

The summer camp I worked at throughout all my teenage years was a horse camp. We had eighty stalls -- twenty for staff and sixty for campers. Kids brought their horses with them and, instead of learning regular camp things like archery and gods' eyes, we had classes like dressage and fit and show.

We had counselors like any other camp, then we also had instructors who came in just for the day, and then we also had a Barn Manager and her (it was always a her) Assistant. They lived in a small shack called The Shack down by the stables, and it was their job basically for one of them to be there 24 hours a day. They also had real responsibilities -- checking in every horse and verifying paperwork, arranging for necessary ferriers and things, running stall inspections every morning, and organizing the horse show we held each Friday, rain or shine -- but really, to us, their most important job was Being Cool.

For most of the years I worked there, the Barn Manager was a girl named Cathy Barry. I just googled her, and apparently there is a British porn star who shares her name. That isn't her. Our Cathy Barry was The Shit. Frizzy brown hair; sturdy, mannish legs and hands; freckles all over her moon-shaped face; and a voice like Joe Pesci's would have been if he were ever a 20-year-old girl. She smoked Marlboro Reds by the carton, drank White Russians every night, went to UMaine Orono, drove a 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood that used to be a hearse, and slept with the cutest, nicest boy in the entire camp. He was three years younger than her -- which is a bigger deal at 20 than it can be at 39 -- but she didn't care. Picked him out of the lineup much the same way Angelina Jolie chose Brad Pitt: "I'll take that, thank you very much." And he went along with her the same way, too: a bit stunned to be chosen, but thrilled pantsless nonetheless.

We all wanted to be Cathy Barry.

The summer of 1988, Cathy Barry (I'm sorry, but I can't talk about her without using her last name; it's like a regal thing) brought a video with her that she'd taped off HBO. It was called "Mr. Miller Goes to Washington," and it was the stand-up performance that was eventually released as Dennis Miller's Off-White Album. This was before Mr. Miller went conservative. Before he had a talk show, before he got his ass kicked trying to do color on Monday Night Football, before we knew him as anything other than the smart-ass newscaster on Saturday Night Live. Cathy Barry had decided this performance was the funniest thing going, and so of course we all decided it was, too.

Which was helped enormously by the fact it really was.

We memorized the entire 55-minute performance, and quoted parts of it back to each other in daily conversation. "Loosen up, Mummenschanz. Get a limbo stick!" "How do I know ... that the color blue to you ... is the same ... as the color blue to me?" "Get right up to the precipice, pivot, and jeté back to coolsville."

If you know Miller's comedy at all (or if you were paying attention with those excerpts quoted above), you know that it is full of cultural references and vocabulary words that even the most dedicated fans don't always know. I still learn about things sometimes and think Oh! So that is what he was talking about there!

Anyway, I swear this title came from that video, but I've been googling for hours now and I can't verify. He did a bit about getting high and watching Star Trek and trying to guess which white dot was going to turn into the Enterprise. That, somehow, led into a thing about Kung Fu, and in the middle of that he described how he and his friends would "take a long draw on the skull bong and recant the tale of the master."

At least, I think he did.

Though we'd have to ask Cathy Barry to know for sure.


su said...

ahh the good old days of summer camp

jen said...

Yeah...Cathy Barry sounds totally bitchin'. Though, I really didnt think it was going to be the horse camp. Im a little disappointed.

cake said...

Great story!

And I clearly haven't watched enough Dennis Miller...damn, I'll have to fix that.