This formative incident happened while I was standing in line behind two sinewy older girls at the Theater Cabin (of Hurricane Bertha fame). We were waiting for our final play rehearsal to start. One of the two girls had arrived for rehearsal that day in a hideous, brightly-colored, seasonally-inappropriate beanie that looked like a hacky sack.
With a disgusted look on her face, the other girl gestured to the first girl’s hat and asked scathingly, “Why are you wearing a Jew hat?!”
The one in the beanie looked insulted. Reaching up to touch her “Jew hat” defensively, she snapped back, “It’s not a Jew hat, it’s just a hat!”
“Well, good,” said the other girl menacingly, “because Jews don’t come here.”
Aaaaaawkward. Talk about uncomfortable, damn.
Part of me wanted to tap the beanie-and-Jew-hating girl on the shoulder and say, “actually, your shitty little theory is completely wrong, because I’m a Jew, I’m right here, and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that monstrosity,” which would have been a very 1996 insult. However, a bigger part of me suspected that these girls probably didn’t know what the word ‘monstrosity’ meant, and also, I didn’t want to get hate-crimed. So I decided to bite my tongue instead of saying anything, and just stew about it for the rest of my life, instead.
Finally – and thankfully – it came time for our last campfire of the summer, which took place the night before we left camp. Looking around at my fellow campers, I did, in fact, see girls in neon rope bracelets with their arms wrapped around each other lovingly. Everyone else was crying. They were all sad that another great summer at Muddy Stream was coming to an end. I was also crying – but my tears were tears of sweet, sweet joy, because tomorrow, I was finally getting the hell out of that dump, and it couldn’t happen any quicker.
That night, I woke up at 3am and realized that I had to go to the bathroom. (Just so you know, I only had to pee. This isn’t a story where I’m telling you about how I had to take a dump in the night). Sighing, for the last time ever, I put on my sandals, took my flashlight from its designated place next to my cot, and stepped between the flaps of my tent out into the quiet, cold, moonlit night to head to the Bathroom Cabin. I made my way through the dark woods behind my tent, carefully down the dirt path and over the root of the big tree that you had to be careful not to trip on. It was very dark, as always. (Frankly, I would be too scared to make this walk as an adult, but somehow, I did it every night that summer.) Finally, I arrived at the Bathroom Cabin, where I could see the enormous moths that covered the cabin’s window screens, their wings fluttering in the light. I passed by the moths, entered the building, made my way to a stall, sat down…
And woke up. In my cot. Turned out, I had been dreaming that *entire time,* and – much to my utter surprise – I had actually just wet the bed for the first (and only) time in my life. It was truly a summer of firsts!
Between you and me, I was so filled with rage and hatred for Camp Muddy Stream by this point that my first thought upon realizing what had just happened wasn’t, “OMG, I just wet the bed at camp and I’m so old and this is horrifying.” No; what I actually remember thinking, as I finished placing a hand towel over the wet spot and climbing back into bed to continue sleeping, was, “good – I’m glad Janet is going to have to clean this up in the morning.” It was definitely time for me to leave Camp Muddy Stream.
I don’t remember anything from the last morning except sheer anticipation to get home and an utter lack of being sad that my time at Muddy Stream had come to an end. The bus ride back seemed much shorter, since I knew I was heading for home, sweet home, and also since it actually was shorter, because I was being dropped off in Connecticut. I couldn’t wait to get off that bus and away from Muddy Stream forever. I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell that I would ever go back to that godforsaken place again, and I also knew that I would see my family and dog soon. Both of these facts brought great relief to my heart and soul.
We finally pulled up at the designated bus drop-off stop for Camp Muddy Stream in Connecticut. As the bus driver parked the bus, I saw the most wonderful sight I’d ever seen: my parents and sister standing in the parking lot, waving at the bus excitedly with big grins plastered on their faces. I hopped down the stairs of the bus, said goodbye to literally no one, grabbed my shit, and headed back to the comfort of my loving family and my familiar, real life. I then didn’t go back to sleepaway camp for another 3 years (and then to a performing arts camp in a castle where everything was purple – but that’s a story for another time).
The moral of the Muddy Stream story is this: if your child already has separation anxiety, and you accidentally send her to military boot camp when she is 9, there is a very good chance that she will still be living at home with you when she’s 24.
I hope you enjoyed the story of my shitty summer at Muddy Stream! Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to post more of my serialized stories from the “Kvetch” collection!
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