When I was fifteen my dad sent me to John Birch Society camp. The camp was in Colorado, and a group of people I’d never met before dropped by the house to give me a ride there. They all seemed a little odd but nice, in a granola kind of way. Granola that was extremely patriotic and wore flag shirts. I felt out of place the entire week.
There was a dance almost every night on the deck of the upper level of the main meeting hall. It smelled like trees and fresh and stars and snow, even though there was no snow at that time of year. The DJ, in an effort to not let in any Satan Music, played a lot of Huey Lewis and the News. It was better than the country music they played on the radio back home, so I went with it.
I slept in a cabin with 7 other girls. We all had our own bunks and sleeping bags and trunks that slid under the beds. I didn’t know any of them and most of them knew each other from years before. I was a little on the outside of the group but every time I started feeling sorry for myself I’d think, do I really want to fit in with these people? I’d feel better instantly and then visualize how awesome I’d be when I went home and told all my friends about how cool I was at this camp. In other words, lie.
Every girl in our cabin was full of their own personality quirks. One slightly heavy girl with acne took birth control pills but swore she was still a virgin. I didn’t believe her, but knowing what I know now, I wish I would have pretended to. Another girl, who had super long, dark hair and freckles and carried a Walkman with her everywhere, told lies and told us she told lies. It went something like this:
Her – ‘Hey, you guys. Last summer my parents took us all to Paris and then all around Europe. We ate crepes and frites. Do you even know what crepes and frites are?’
Me – ‘Um, ya, crepes are those thin-‘
Her – ‘Ohmygodyouguys, I lied! I totally lied. We never went to Europe last year.’
Her- ‘Once, when I was little, a snake got in our house and they found it in my bed.’
Me – ‘Did it bite you?’
Her – ‘Oh, no. It didn’t bit me. They got it in time. My dad got a gun and shot its head off.’
Some Other Girl – ‘Eww. That is gross. What kind was it?’
Me – ‘Did it make a huge mess and was you-‘
Her – ‘Ohmygodohmygodyouguys, that never happened! I don’t know why I said that. I’ve never even seen a snake!’
And then she would giggle for awhile, looking completely and utterly weird and the rest of us would just start talking about something else.
But the very most awesome girl there was a redheaded girl with natural curls that I was totally jealous of. She would tell us about fights she got into and then exclaim about how she had that redheaded temper. And she wore a red t shirt one day and told us that something about her complexion made it fine for her to wear red, in fact it looked great on her, when other redheaded people couldn’t.
The very first night, after we brushed teeth and got in bed, we all talked for a bit, said our goodnights. I’ve never been a heavy sleeper and I have a hard time going to sleep in the best of conditions. Sleeping in a new location with a bunch of new people, some of whom were mouth-breathers, wasn’t really conducive for my sleeping well. After about half an hour, everyone had fallen asleep but me. I could hear all their deep, heavy and sometimes slightly snoring rhythms and wished I could doze off.
Suddenly, the redheaded girl started talking. And not just kind of talking quietly, or a little bit of mumbling, either. I’m talking about a full-blown one-sided conversation with someone in her dream at regular talking volume. And it wasn’t even an interesting conversation. Something about going shopping and getting ready for school and getting her chores done before watching television. BORRiiing. Where’s the sex and the intrigue? I’d have at least liked a little mystery if I was going to be kept awake.
Eventually, everyone in the cabin was awake and telling her to shut it. But she wouldn’t wake up. She finally reached the next level of sleep and quit talking and everyone else went back to sleep. But it was the same story every night. There was talk of her being possessed by a demon. One of the girls, who’s father was a preacher, said she’d seen him cast out devils who did this kind of thing. I was impressionable then, and I might have believed her, except talking about grocery lists and riding a bike didn’t really sound that satanic.