Over the years I have prided myself on being the poster child for the perfect daughter. Then I thought back to all the shenanigans I had pulled growing up and into my early adult years and realized I had been anything but. My parents didn't really know a lot of the stuff I did, so to this day, I still WAS the perfect child in their eyes. (Not as an adult...just as a kid). I never did anything illegal or dangerous...just enough to get me into trouble with those of authority. Because I was boy crazy as a young girl, my romantic antics were always getting me into hot water. And having the freedom from parents every summer…sometimes that hot water boiled over.
Summer camp...how I loved going to summer camp. Well...from 8 years old and on I loved it, but my parents decided at 6, I was old enough to attend the most religious Jewish camp there was on the entire earth. I don't think Israel had anything that intense. Now…please note...I had never once been to Temple, did not know one thing about our religion, yet for 8 weeks, 8 very long weeks, at 6 years old, during what should have been the most fun time of year for any child, we had to attend services, or some semblance of a service, every single morning and evening. Are you kidding me? And what was that language they were speaking during those services? I knew it was definitely not anything I had ever heard before. The guttural sounds that came from their throats sounded like they were gonna project loogies out onto our heads. I later found out that was Hebrew. And to this day, I still do not understand one word of it. Ok…maybe one word…Shalom. Oh yeah…and Mazel Tov. Oh…and L’chaim. (One of those loogie words I was referring to). But that’s about it.
Being so young, I was homesick every single minute of every hour of every day. My sister went to the same camp, but the camp was so enormous, I rarely got to see her, except when it was time for services. And even then, they wouldn't allow us to see each other. I would spot her from a distance and run up to her crying, just for a hug. Then I got into trouble. Just for hugging my sister. So I would sneak out in search of her... and that was my start to a life of crime and corruption.
I stayed home the following summer. My whining and tirades were enough to convince my parents that a summer at the beach would be much more peaceful than daily phone calls from Jewish central complaining about their kid undermining camp rules. But the summer after that...off to another camp, which I went to for the next 5 summers, and those were the greatest. That’s not to say I didn't get into trouble...of course I did. I discovered boys. And there were lots of them. And they all needed my attention. Jock during the day, stealth boy hunter at night. Well, maybe not so stealth. I had a secret mission almost every night, and that was to find the boy's cabin holding hostage my boy du jour. Of course I never actually made it all the way to the boy's end of the camp. Those prison lights they had spotlighting me as I was sneaking my way across, made me fall to the ground and confess all my sins. And each time I got caught, I had to run circles around the tennis courts, sometimes in the rain, for hours on end. Just walking and running and walking and running, sometimes soaking wet. That stopped my antics…for maybe a minute.
My boy crazed phase didn’t diminish any by the time I went on my teen tour across the country at 14. But the price I had to pay was a little harsher. And more often. There were 100 kids: 50 boys, 50 girls, and 20 counselors. 100 teenage kids with screaming, raging hormones. We toured the U.S. in vans towing Apache tent trailers. 10 kids to a trailer. That summer I discovered the wild side that had been dormant within for my first 13 years of life. Although I am usually the one to follow all the rules, [because I’m such a chicken-shit], that summer showcased the womanly beast within. (As womanly as you can get at 14). My best friend and I were always looking for ways each night to get away from our girls’ group and go visit the boys. We would make it just so far, for just so long, and then bam! They always found us. I guess after a few times, a pattern is formed; conditioning, so to speak. It wasn’t real hard for the counselors to figure out where we would be. They just had to figure out which trailer we’d be in. And to our dismay…they always did.
The retribution for our first offense wasn’t too extreme. They figured if we were okay sneaking out of our trailer at night to visit the boys in their trailers, then we would be ok sleeping outside of the trailer, too. They did allow us to use our sleeping bags, but we had to sleep on the rocky pavement with no cushions underneath or any protection overhead. Needless to say, they were very restless nights. And since we were so restless, we made sure everyone could hear just how restless we were, therefore making it a little more fun for us.
Because sleeping on rocks certainly was not going to deter us from doing it again, when the next time came to slipping out ‘ever so quietly’, we found out that we were not ‘ever so quiet’. When they caught us, they came up with the notion that keeping us from going to a Dodger game in L.A., would cause us to cease and desist the next time we had the urge. Yeah…I don’t think so. So, of course, we went again a few nights later. We thought we had gotten away with it the third time…but noooo. Not even close. It still baffles me why the boys never got into trouble. I mean, I know we were the ones who snuck out to go to them, but they never told us to go away because they didn’t want to get into trouble themselves. They sat and talked with us and hung out just as much as we did. But we paid the price. And that third time was a doozy. We had to miss going to Disneyland. Not only did they keep us from the happiest place on earth, but we had to do the laundry of every single person in the entire camp while they were off to see Tinkerbell. Eight hours of laundry. Eight hours straight of laundry! In a creepy, sleazy laundromat in L.A. Did I mention it was eight hours of washing and drying and folding everybody’s disgustingly dirty laundry? We were going crazy sitting there between loads imagining everyone else screaming as they went down the spirals of the Matterhorn, shaking hands with Mickey and Goofy, and singing ‘It’s a Small World’ 80 gazillion times because they couldn’t get the song out of their heads. We really did pay the price that time. Eight frickin’ hours worth!
After that, we decided we didn’t want to miss out on any other great adventures, so we followed all (most) of the rules and got to go on every excursion for the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, we had chosen to get grounded in the most fun state we visited…but I still got to have my first make-out session with a boy. We snuck out behind the trees in Yosemite National Park, so therefore, California wasn’t a complete bust.
And I proceeded to make out in every state we drove through on our way back east. What a learning experience my summer of 14 turned out to be. In so many ways.
My capers continued throughout the rest of my teenage years well into my 20’s…and 30’s…and even my 40’s. Of course they got a little less innocent as the years progressed, but those are for another blog.
So what does a 50 something do nowadays to release that little girl, boy crazed, troublemaker within? A few tips for creating some middle-aged excitement that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the opposite sex:
- Take more than the 6 items of clothing allowed into the dressing room
- Talk the waiter into giving you a breakfast burrito even though it’s after 11AM
- Use an expired coupon
- Go through the 15 item express lane with 16 items
- Or sneak into the dressing room for a quickie with Gunther…the hunky manager