Davy Jones Stopped by the Brady House
So you may know that in 2nd grade I plagiarized a story and won it big in a writing contest. Well you may be surprised to know that this was where my cheating chapter ended. That’s right. I never again borrowed from the talents of others to complete my homework. Until now.
I’m pleased to offer my very first featured guest post here at Childhood Relived. Speaker7 from over at Ramblings and Rumblings was nice enough to stop by and offer me a hand-up (although really more a hand-out) to fill a void on my page — and in my heart. Simply put, she is my favorite blogger. “Favorite” because 1.) She is wickedly funny and should write for The Daily Show (perhaps she does — we can’t know for sure) and 2.) I believe her to be my former conjoined twin who was surgically separated from me on a special two-hour edition of Nightline.
After reading her guest post, I urge you to go visit her smart, hilarious blog (here).
Angie Z. was kind enough to loan out her blog to me, Speaker 7, which is pretty surprising since she is such a fantastic and amazing writer. I write about turds and the Today show (these are actually the same topic) so I jumped at the chance to appear as a special guest star on Childhood Relived. It reminds me of the sitcoms of my youth like when Davy Jones suddenly turned up at the Brady house and impregnated Marcia or when The Great Gazoo turned up on planet Earth and ruined the Flintstones and then impregnated Wilma.
Since Angie writes about her childhood experiences, I figured it would be appropriate to share a tale from my past. And since Angie writes about the common elements of 1970s and ‘80s sitcoms, I will engage in some historical revision so the me of the story actually has the courage of a Jan Brady wearing a hideous black wig to Lucy Winters’ birthday party instead of the me of reality who has the courage of cousin Oliver.
This was the summer of 1979 or 1981 or 1982 or 1985. Unlike Angie, I do not have a photographic memory. I do not remember what I even did five minutes ago although I notice a shattered wine glass on the ground and my husband lying in a pool of red wine or blood. My mother had some truly horrible idea that my brother and I would benefit from attending a week-long summer day camp. Now I understand in adult-time, a week is the equivalent of an eye blink, but for a kid a week is longer than a road trip to Grandma’s house, which is an eternity. We were not thrilled, but seeing that it would take longer than a week to become emancipated children, we got on the bus and rode into the wilderness.
There were trees, camp counselors, picnic tables (I think) and this horrible, wretched child whose name I do not remember, but let’s call her Brenda. This is what she looked like:
Brenda’s purpose in life was to make my life — for that week — utterly miserable. She recognized that the skim-milk hue of my skin meant that I was likely not the outdoors type, and pounced. We were paired up as swimming “buddies,” which to Brenda meant dragging my short guppy self to the deepest part of the lake and laughing when I sputtered through gasps for air that my feet couldn’t touch. I got to witness what I looked like by watching Brenda impersonate a fearful Speaker7 to the rest of the campers. We were paired up as canoe “buddies” to participate in a “fun” canoe race. I had never set foot in a canoe before so the counselor, who was clearly a sadist, thought it appropriate to put me in the back. If you’ve never canoed before — which is completely fine because a motorboat is way faster — the person in back is responsible for steering the vessel. Brenda gave the needed encouragement by referring to me as “asshole” through the duration of the race.
Now if this were a sitcom, Brenda would eventually receive her comeuppance. Maybe she would break down and confess that she was jealous of my toothpick-size legs or ability to touch the tip of my nose with my tongue, and that’s why she was acting like the worst person alive. Or maybe I would stand up to her and say “Brenda, you’re the asshole” and then whack her in the head with the canoe paddle and then some camper would start the slow clap until everyone begins cheering and I’m picked up onto two people’s shoulders and carried throughout the camp in triumph (I just feel like a giant weight has been lifted from typing that last sentence). So we could end the story that way and feel better about a bully being bested.
But this is what really happened.
It was Thursday, and I was riding the same bus home as Brenda. Brenda had decided the shirt I was wearing was her shirt and clearly I had stolen it. Let’s put aside the logic that this is day camp and the only clothes we brought with us were our bathing suits. It wasn’t even a great shirt — just some old navy blue T-shirt. She threatened that I would be in a world of hurt if I didn’t bring it back with me on Friday. I nodded my head yes and looked out the window secure in the knowledge that I would not be back on Friday. I had guilted my mom into letting me quit camp a day early.