We all can remember at least one embarrassing moment in our life, right? One to the core, makes your skin crawl embarrassing moment? Well, if you can't I am totally jealous. I have several but there is one in particular that has haunted me for my entire life.
My parents never sent me to summer camp. Not that at the time it was a huge deal to me, I didn't know any better. I didn't know about the campfires, sing alongs and behind the cabin make-out sessions. I did however get to go away for a whole week during sixth grade. I got to go to science camp in Rockford, IL. Who's jealous now?
There were two scheduled trips that year. One group went, then another group. It always seemed as though the more popular kids were picked first for everything so naturally I was in the second session. Worst part was, I was in the session with the boys who had bullied me relentlessly my whole life. I was going to be AWAY AT CAMP WITH THEM FOR A WHOLE WEEK.
I did have a few friends that were in the same session so of course I hoped they would "have my back" (definitely not a saying back in 1969). I packed my clothes, sensible shoes and sexy little undershirts that my mom insist I wear since I didn't have enough boobs to fill a bandaid. I was off.
The most I had ever slept away was at a slumber party or at my grandparent's so the sight of a room filled with bunkbeds was almost too exciting for me to bear. There was a huge "mess hall" where everyone would gather for meals. Just too cool for me to stand.
I kept tucking the bullies away in the back of my mind, they would have to leave me alone, we were supervised! And for the most part, in the beginning, they left me alone. I was having the time of my life. Not that I was a huge science buff or anything; I was just enthralled at the idea of being away from home at a sleep away camp with my classmates.
I learned how to dissect frogs and other interesting yet gross activities. Every night we would sing songs in the mess hall after dinner. I especially liked "We're gonna see the _______ at the zoo tomorrow" and we would fill in the blank with a different animal each time. I loved the chorus "we're goin' to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How about you? You? You?" And on and on. I learned to sing grace like the good little Jewish girl that I was. And I learned to hike.
My mom had always called me her monkey so I figured hiking would definitely be my thing. I loved to climb and explore so I was going to really excel and show those bullies who was the boss of hiking. And I was doing great. Until the most horrible, unthinkable, please God open up the Earth and swallow me up thing happened. I fell. But not just a fall. I farted. A fart so loud it echoed off the rocks and walls around us. I believe it was heard for miles. And there were the bullies gathered around.
I farted. So loud it echoed off the rocks and walls.
I recall laying on the ground wishing I were dead, wondering how to get up with any sense of dignity. Wasn't gonna happen. They were all as we would say now ROTFL. Uncontrollably. Being the brilliant bunch of young men that they were they created my new name immediately. I was to be called "EG" or "Excessive Gas" for the remainder of the trip, school year and life.
The attention was briefly taken off of me when a friend made a faux pas at dinner. We had to introduce the teachers at our table and Mr. Mortweet was introduced as "Mr. Tweety". Unfortunately that moment didn't last long enough.
I never did go to summer camp or away from home for a long time after that. The bullies eventually went on to bigger and better things like drugs and girls.
My next trip away from home was Spring Break 1976 in Daytona Beach. And that my friends was a far cry from science camp. A very far cry.
And I did not fart in public.
Teppi Jacobson is a lifelong Chicagoan who writes a Chicago Now blog called When You Put it That Way.