Ah, summer camp --that pubescent, fetid pool where middle-class memories are made! Children and horses! There is campfire singing and mess hall eating. A parallel universe unfolds for a week, a world with its own rules, social hierarchies, politics and policies. A world free from parents, television and the dreaded Household Chore.
Fun! Arc the bow, pull the trigger and explore all things Outdoor, generally speaking.
Who wouldn't want to go?
Now, regular readers of this blog know exactly who: Scarlett.
But, hot damn if the Matron's generous sister (with no children of her own to suck away each last cent and spare brain cell) is paying for Stryker and Scarlett to attend YMCA Camp Olson, together. The Matron didn't even consider saying no! She dubbed the offer a no-brainer.
Here is the Matron completing her lengthy, thoughtfully constructed speech (she reread some Freud, Rank and Jung in the process) in which she introduces Scarlett to the concept of Camp. Mind you, she is at the end.
Matron: "And just in case the camp store, the horses, archery, jewelry making, swimming, new friends, clothes-we're-going-to-buy-for-you, boating, fishing and even acting isn't enough to make camp perfect -- like the most fun you've had in your entire life!---just in case you need more, not only will your big brother be going, but your best friend! Yes! Caitlin is going to camp with you! How's that! Your Mama made sure that your brother, his friend Josh who will watch over you like a hawk AND Caitlin will all accompany you to camp. Scarlett, you will have an entourage. Secret Service, at your finger tips! Okay?"
Scarlett (tears like a fire hydrant): "OH MY GOD WHO STOLE MY PARENTS!! MY PARENTS WOULD NEVER SEND ME AWAY LIKE THAT. WHO ARE YOU, EVIL WOMAN AND WHERE IS MY MAMA! I WANT MY REAL MOTHER!!!"
With that, she fell screaming to the floor, where she did a damn fine imitation of Regan in The Exorcist.
Yes, that went about as well as expected.
The Matron's only daughter is not a timid person. Indeed, when in a show at the Guthrie, her most pressing question was this: "How many people will watch me every night?"
Matron: "I think 800."
Scarlett: "That's all? Phooey."
But cast this child toward Nature, with its threats of dirt and discomfort . . . well, she becomes her mother's daughter. This is a child who understands bees as an individual insult from the heavens. Watch the sunset? Excuse me, is that her own face on the horizon? If not, never mind. Then there's weather. Scarlett cannot tolerate weather of any sort. Temperate summer day? She's dying, inside by the air conditioner, gulping and gasping. Rain? Might as well be a tornado. The thought of prancing about outside in weather, is enough to do her in.
The nail on the coffin? She is thrust into all this discomfort without her mother.
"MOM!? WHERE ARE YOU? I NEED YOU!"
That subtle mantra started about ten days ago. Since then, every time the Matron sits down at her computer, her little barnacle wraps herself into the lap and says: "Watcha reading?"
Scarlett has occupied the parental bed for several days. Then there's the spectacular litany of ailments.
"Mama? My side hurts, here, right below a rib. That's a rib, right? It's a jabbing pain that happens only when I eat fruit. Should I see a doctor?"
"Mom? See this toe? Don't you think it's moving oddly? I can barely lift it. See how it wobbles? It doesn't really hurt, but I think it's not looking normal."
"Mom! Do I have a fever?"
"Mama. Do you see this strange dot on my wrist? Maybe I'm finally getting chicken pox. I think it's the chicken pox."
"Omigod, Mom! I have the worst headache! My whole head is practically exploding. Do we have ice packs?"
"Mama! Come into the bathroom, quick. I'm constipated and have diarrhea all at the same time!"
Camp. The Matron and her family pull out of home base about 8:30 am tomorrow. It's 10:09 pm. And Scarlett?
She is in her bedroom, putting the final touches on her Last Will and Testament.
Friends, the Matron wishes she were making this stuff up. Not tonight, unfortunately . . . pop! goes the wine cork.