Monday, July 21, 2008

Bad Memories

I finished reading Padma Venkatraman's Climbing the Stairs -- it was magnificent. I think it's an important book. And last night I completed The Life History of a Star by Kelly Easton. Also wonderful; I think both books and their protagonists will stay with me for a long time.

The twentieth marked the three-year anniversary of my first trip to camp. It was a camp for children with juvenile diabetes. Complete overkill on any treatment, whether you were hyperglycemic (sugar too high) or hypoglycemic (sugar too low). These three days were filled with kickball under the raging sun, watching chubby spiders dance mere inches over your head in the cabins, beetles swimming in the toilet bowls, plastic mattresses stained with something that looked like rejected stomach contents, and frozen graham cracker-chocolate pudding-marashmallow sandwiches. To top it off, the girls in my cabin hated me.

"You know everybody talks about you behind your back?" a girl two years younger than I was asked me.

"No," I said. "Why?"

"Well ... when you talk, it makes the rest of us sound kinda retahded," she admitted.

(The Rhode Island accent, for those who have never heard it, sounds rather like a thinner, less refined version of the Boston accent.)

"Oh," I said. "Because I use big words?"

"Yeah," she replied.


"I thought you were gonna cry," said the other girl, looking disappointed.

I have to admit that I was the Hermione Granger of the cabin -- insecure enough to flaunt a broad vocabulary and refined grammatical skills. (But I can't possibly be the only one who couldn't bear to listen to, "She don' wanna be a junia counsela" and "I ain't, you ain't, he/she/it ain't". Can I?) Anyway, I am never going back to camp. Ever. This experience turned me off for life.

The only good part of camp was listening to the storyteller. I love storytellers. (Although this was around the campfire, and all but yours truly, who had a mouthful of steel, were enjoying chubby white marshmallows.)