It's not about the house.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Are You Ready For the Summer?

I really don’t think they had to go and call the cops. The fire brigade maybe, but come on. It’s not like we were doing anything illegal. Or not at that point we weren't, anyway.

Some of you who’ve been here for a while might remember me mentioning how I used to work at camp. Well, a couple weeks after I wrote that – and not because of it; it was just a strange coincidence – everyone who worked there with me showed up on Facebook in a great big whomp. And it turns out I’m not the only one who thought the whole experience was honking bucketloads of carry-it-around-with-you-for-decades worth of fun.

For a few months we had a grand old time in our growing Facebook group, remembering private jokes (What are they gonna do, take away my birthday?) and public humiliations (you’re absolutely right, Cathy: if the four staties and two town cops who pulled you over didn’t know that you were drunk, then who the hell did that redneck camp director think she was?), comparing what-were-you-fired-for stories (pretty much sex, sex, sex, sex, and sex), and making endless lists of favorite things (seriously, that list is endless, and it would bore anyone who wasn't there to tears – but there is a pretty good consensus on the dinner rolls). People think I'm kidding when I say it was like Meatballs when we worked there but -- as I think you are about to see -- I'm not.

One of us, in fact, loved it so much he could never bring himself to leave; he's president of the board of directors now. And when he showed up on Facebook, he made the following executive decision: if we all spent a couple hours on the campground raking leaves, he said, then we could all also spend the night there drinking beer. So that’s exactly what we did on Saturday.

Thanks, Kenny! No wonder you’re Jen’s favorite brother-in-law!

Johnny came with me, and we were a couple hours late because I got a little lost. I took no end of campy guff for that, but I steadfastly maintain it’s not my fault except insofar as I decided to trust Google Maps. Everyone knows Google Maps are ass, but I don’t live in the town I grew up in anymore, so I couldn't go the way we used to go. When we left, though, I went that way anyway -- even though it meant a detour almost all the way to my parents' house -- and we were door to door in ninety minutes flat. As compared to three fucking hours getting Google-lost the day before. Fuck that noise.

Anyway, so we were late. They were just breaking for lunch when we arrived. Johnny and I had already eaten (because we were google-lost for three fucking hours) so we just sat and visited while everybody ate. When they were done we raked some leaves for about an hour, then Cathy Barry decided it was imperative that she go home and get a tarp (“We’ll just put ‘em on the fuckin' thing and drag ‘em. It’s just, like, a mile and a half down the fuckin’ road.”), and Johnny and I decided it was imperative for us to tag along.

(You might notice that I’m saying fuck a lot in this post. That’s because I’ve regressed. Which, in turn, is because it turns out you can, in fact, go home again. And at home we say fuck a lot. So Q.E.D.)

All together it took almost two hours to go to her house, play with her kids (the little one’s a nutjob, man, I tell you what), fail to find the tarp we were looking for, go to a hardware store to buy one, get Johnny a sandwich because he decided he was hungry after all, then go to the package store for ice and cigarettes and lots and lots and lots and lots of beer. By the time we got back to camp, most people were finished working for the day, but since we’d done hardly anything so far we put the brand-new tarp (and beer) to use. For, oh, I’d say at least the best part of a half an hour.

It was Danny’s idea to toss all the leaves in the woods instead of hauling them up the hill, and he hadn’t even started drinking yet. “They’re leaves,” he said. “Don’t they belong in the woods?” Good point -- he was trained in landscape architecture, after all. That stroke of brilliance saved us all a lot of time, so by four o’clock we were putting rakes away and drinking for real. Which was a novel thing, because most of us got fired before turning twenty-one, so we had never gotten drunk at camp before.

Ha! Ha!

There was dinner, but for some reason Johnny and I didn’t eat that, either. I don’t know why, but I’m pretty certain it was Cathy Barry’s fault. Her husband showed up then, and he’s an ex-Navy Seal sniper, so maybe we were too busy trying to picture him shooting pirates in the face. For the record: Cathy Barry’s husband is as big a fan of Cathy Barry as I've always been -- and, now, so is Johnny. Although apparently, because of the husband and all, her last name isn’t so much Barry anymore. But to me she's Cathy Fucking Barry, so fuck that.

So we ate (or, rather, they ate and we drank), and then they rang the bell and announced that The Fire was being lit down in The Glen.

This is something they used to do when we were there. A Big Ass Fire in the glen on Friday evenings for closing ceremony. They’d pick their favorite campers and give awards and read a story about how coyote first brought fire to the Indians (were allowed to say Indians back then because it was the ‘80s). Then one boy counselor -- who had been body-painted with totems and stripes, dressed in a loincloth, and hidden in the woods -- would run out with a flaming torch and plunge it in a giant pile of felled trees. This crucial role was, in later years, sometimes played by a girl. Because we always were politically-correct like that.

We didn’t do that whole shebang this weekend. Somebody just lit the fire and we all wandered down. Heidi did get up and read the fire-bringer story – but I think in the good old days they must have had a microphone or something, because I couldn’t hear a fucking word she said. And when I couldn't hear it, the story seemed to go on awfully long.

They don’t tell the story anymore, incidentally. Nor do they have a fire. It is apparently neither okay to dress a white boy (or girl) in a loincloth and paint his or her body with faux-tribal patterns, nor is it safe to build a fire that is more than one Dot high. Dang.

But we weren’t They, we were Us, and so we torched the fucker anyway.

And it turns out that when the neighbors across the lake see the forest glowing orange and flames shooting up over the tops of trees, they start to wonder if there might be something wrong. (You thought I was kidding when I said they built a fire? Dot was tall, man, I’m telling you: Dot was tall.) Instead of sending the screaming fire brigade, though, they just sent a pair of flashlights, and at the sight of them every one of us reverted to old form. Some of us just shut up and cheesed it. Jon (and Johnny) kept right on playing guitar. I’m pretty certain I heard giggles from a girl or two. And Cathy Barry – who was on the waterfront when the flashlights arrived – said to herself “Those look like cop flashlights,” and wisely decided to stay where she was. Kenny talked to the flashlights, told them it was okay because he said so. And he is President of the Board of Directors, after all.

So they left. And nobody got fired.

It’s probably a good thing that the you-know-what did not come out till after (and by "you-know-what" I mean "another thing we never, never did either back then"). I won’t name the man who brought it, but I will say he was my kindergarten boyfriend and – although he still loyally swears I was the best colorer he ever saw – I approve wholeheartedly of his grown-up wife. They met at camp, as a matter of fact, but that was after I’d been fired (not for sex), so I met Mrs. Randy for the first time yesterday.


(And not for nothing, but I gotta tell you: I never knew boys talked so much about each other’s dicks. Seriously, for those boys who worked at camp with us but weren’t there this weekend? I know what every one of your dicks look like now. And I've only ever seen like two or three of them for real.)

I tried to stay up later, really I did, but fourteen beers and a couple hits of you-know take their toll. Johnny says it was about 1:30 when we retired. I headed for the girls’ side but I couldn’t seem to find a cabin, and I knew if I wandered off into the woods there was no way that bunch of drunken motherfuckers would remember how to run the missing-camper drill. So we turned around and found an empty cabin on the other side. Johnny says Randy and Jen came in giggling at three in the morning, poking at my feet and whispering my name, but I didn’t hear them, and when they realized Johnny was awake they turned and ran.

Silly. Very silly.

In the end, I’d have to say nobody’s really changed. Even physically. Seriously, the pictures everybody’s posting are a lie: you all look exactly how you always looked back then. And it was more than a little freaky to hear everybody’s voices. The face Mark makes when he knows he’s saying something funny. Randy and his you-know. Maggie blasting “St. Elmo’s Fire” and the “Axel F” theme from Beverly Hills Cop. The way Danny sometimes sort of goes away inside his head when you're talking to him. And Cathy Barry... Cathy Barry...

Well, Cathy Barry is still Cathy Fucking Barry.

And Johnny says that girl is bleeding mad.


Anonymous said...

I must say, I've never seen your coloring, but Randy has good taste in his women (or at least I like to think so). And I'm wondering if Randy made 2 rounds of cabin searching and giggling, one with me and one with Jon. Kind of warms my heart to think he may have.

ege said...

Whoops, I just asked him and he did say Jen, I just misheard him. I'll go fix it now!

su said...

Summer camp is the best.. the very best. and being a counselor is better.. Make no money but have a heck of a lot of fun!

Anonymous said...

So true every word of it except I don't think it took that long for the you know what to come out, just for them to share it...
Also your husband had me laughing harder than I have laughed in I don't know years...That fucking one eyed tour guide :) LOL Hee hee. Tell him thank you. And I hope we meet again.

ege said...

Who are you, Anonymous #2? I know the first one is Jen, but I can't remember who was sitting with us when he told that story. (Also can't imagine why my short-term memory might be impaired...)

Anonymous said...

GREAT Story EGE! You are still great, as I remembered but your hub is fucking awesome! Really glad you got home too. Google Maps are a joke, somewhere in the small print is a link that says "real map here" and you have to click on that ;)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 is Kerrie. I was ROFL over the story. I am not sure you were there for the actual telling of the story to us- just the retelling to solidify that he actually had one eye because you held it in your hand. And I can't believe he broke out in John Prine. That made my hubby's night. Tell him to learn some more before we get together again. :)

Jenni said...

I went to camp as a kid and worked there a couple of summers. This story brought back funny memories.

Glad ya'll had fun.

kmg said...

most funny indeed. hard to believe it took so long for the flashlights to show up. plus the fact that it is true. oh the memories

12ontheinside said...

Man. Summer camp, we just don't have them here. Sounds really bizzarre.

pork luck said...

Loved this story! Absolutely loved it. Made me go back in time to when my high school basketball team all decided to climb to the roof of taco bell to ring the bell. You can't really ring that bell. Its fake. But you CAN drink beer! And you CAN get arrested for it.

ege said...

Anonymous #3 -- Whoever you are, I'm sure Johnny thinks you're fucking awesome, too!

Jenni -- Somehow, the fact you worked at camp, too, doesn't surprise me. How goes the kudzu battle?

kmg -- Hey everyone, this is Kenny! Everyone, say "Thanks, Kenny!"

12 -- I guess it is bizarre. If you had camps down there, you'd have to dress your boys like aborigines!

PorkPie -- Oh, how I love you. For believing in the bell, for reaching for the bell, and for going down in such spectacular fashion in quest of the bell. You should have run for the border when the cops came!

hi2d said...

omg Erin thanks for this. It is fucking hilarious. Because it is all true. No need to stretch truths here. I had an absolute blast! It was truly the most fun i have had in many, many years. You are all as wonderful as I remembered you, and seriously; nobody has changed. At all. And...Thanks Kenny!

Anonymous said...


I was not able to make it, but your story transported me as if I was there. Thank you for your descriptions. I was ROFL with things that happened and from your stories of what had happened in the past. I never got fired, but came close to it a few times. I hope to see the group in 2010.

ege said...

Yay, Whoever You Are! Glad you liked it, and you should definitely see us all in 2010.

Who are you?

Anonymous said...

Hey Erin,

I am Susan Donnelly. I was a counselor at Marshall from 1981-84 and a camper from 1978-80. Your writing is great...keep it up!