Letters to my Sister in Japan — Day 77

Sixth grade camp was awesome, except for one thing

Dear Sister,

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to stand idly by as my dignity was dragged in the mud, right before my eyes. Feeling embarrassed or having something embarrassing happen to me is a common enough occurrence. I’ve lived through so many “I want to hide my head in the sand” moments that I don’t even remember some of things that have happened to me. One day I’ll be occupied with a task and “BLAM!”, out of nowhere, instant trauma echo.

As I sat down to write this letter to you, I had one such moment. I immediately remembered a pretty horrible evening, and there was still enough lingering misery in my body that I thought it’d be funny to share.

It all happened during my week away from home at 6th grade camp. I don’t know if you remember all the gear we packed the morning of, or if you remember dropping me off at school, but you probably remember that I was completely unprepared for 4–5 days of relative “roughing it”. I don’t think I cared if I lacked a few pairs of socks or underwear. I had my water shoes and I felt ready for anything.

Well, anything except for her. I was assigned to a specific table for dining hours at the mess hall, and I ended up sitting next to the most beautiful twelve year old I had ever met (or whatever bologna-mushy dumb stuff ran through my mind at the time). She was a blonde-haired girl from North County and all I remember about her aside from those two details was that her name began with a “T”. She was my sixth-grade camp crush.

Aside from T, the rest of camp was what I expected it to be. I remember long hikes through the Cuyamaca woods, with me wearing water shoes the whole time. I had avoided poison oak/ivy, and I was a observant enough to spot rare birds and a few scavenging critters. One boy picked on me the first day by spitting on the back of my neck during meetings and Q&A sessions, but I told him to stop and he listened. He probably didn’t expect me to stand up for myself.

Did I ever write to you while I was at camp? I’m pretty sure I did, but my memory is hazy. I do remember sitting in my bunk bed and scribbling in my books when we had downtime. I wrote down talent show ideas, hiking notes, and love poems. Yes. Your dumbass brother wrote love poems about a girl he sat next to at the dining hall during 6th grade camp.

Throughout the week I probably wrote three or four love poems of various lengths and skill. There was extensive use of iambic pentameter and excessive rhyming. I’ll never be able to recall any of the lines, but I am fairly certain that my poems were more like Dr. Seuss verses than Lord Byron’s. I do remember struggling for at least 30 minutes, trying to think of a way to describe T’s eyes and compare them to the skies. And then I probably settled on merely calling them gemstones or whatever. My poetry has always been P.U. (pretty ugly).

Well, on the night of the talent show, I had dress rehearsal in one of the cabins with all the other acts. My talent show performance was a cover of a Weird Al song (I had to have been the coolest 12-year old you ever met) and my rehearsal was fairly short because I knew the song inside-out. As I walked away from the rehearsal room I immediately heard everyone burst out into laughter behind me. I didn’t think much of it so I kept walking.

Then I heard a very familiar sentence: “your eyes are like gemstones…” coming from the rehearsal room and I could feel that afternoon’s macaroni slowly crawl back up my throat. I wanted to hurl.

“Oh T, how I love thee…” I turned around and saw a kid from my class, holding up my poetry and reading it to all the other kids and the counselors too. Everyone was laughing at me. I ran up to the boy and snatched my shitty poems back. He didn’t put up a fight or withhold them from me. He was too busy holding his stomach in pain from all the laughter.

I ran back up to my cabin and slammed the door behind me. I didn’t leave until it was time for the talent show and I had such a great time I didn’t care that an hour or so before I was pale from having my feelings laid bare.

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, for me, that wasn’t the last time I suffered deep embarrassment over a crush or pretty girl. I think it’s part of my charm to be completely useless when it comes to expressing myself to the opposite sucks, but then again, that’s only what I tell myself.

Eh… did you ever have anything like that happen to you in elementary school? Middle school? I can’t imagine you having a crush on anyone, dear Sister. It’d be too weird to think about.

Love,

Your Little Don Juan