Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just Say No

My husband found an old D.A.R.E. tee shirt in the back of the closet. And, damn the luck, it fits him. This is because when he was younger he had no concept of what size he wore and everything he owned hung on him. That is thanks to his parents, hardcore homeschoolers who believe modest equals frumpy and reveals the height of character, even for boys. Which makes me wonder how he even ended up with a D.A.R.E. shirt. Surely there wasn't a real serious drug problem out on the homestead...but I stray.

D.A.R.E. tee shirts take me back to 5th grade church camp, the first summer I really cared if boys were at camp, the first summer I remember evening campfire bearing any consequence. This was the year some boys asked some girls to sit with them at campfire! Goodbye, familiar days of gender segregation. This was a brave new world.

Of course, I wasn't a some girl. My stringy hair hung in my eyes, my mom hadn't sent me to camp with any deodorant, and my juvenile printed bathing suit revealed nothing but a little girl gut and a chest flat as a hockey rink.

And even though I noticed some boys, I was much too shy to have talked to them even if they had noticed me. The only boy I voluntarily talked to all week was Stephen, who had befriended my buddy Rachel and me, possibly because Rachel had cute red hair but more likely because he was simply one of those cool nerds who, even at eleven, possessed more self-confidence than most adults find and who was blissfully unaware of the social mores prohibiting 5th graders from co-ed activities unless one party likes the other. Stephen was, in fact, so cool that when Rachel and I mustered up the courage and suppressed the giggles enough one morning to tell him to "xyz," he nonchalantly informed us his fly was afraid of heights.

But my limited boy experience proved problematic at lunch one day as I approached the station where we scraped scraps and dumped drinks before our trays went to the dishwashing room. Nearly there, stinky Bobby-who-wore-the-same-D.A.R.E.-tee -shirt-everyday-and-who-Stephen-told-us-hadn't-showered- all-week stepped between me and the scrap buckets.

There I was, scratch resistant commercial tumbler half full of watered down red kool-aid tottering precariously in the cup bay of my ketchup smeared shatter-proof mottled green melamine six-compartment tray, with no way around Bobby unless I took red drink down my front. And it was too late, anyway--I had accidentally made eye contact, yes, eye contact! Bobby saw his moment and made his move.

"Um, Louise, um, will you sit by me at campfire?"

"Uh, I guess so."

"Yeah? Okay! Cool. No, great. I mean, I guess I'll see you there."

"Yeah, I guess so."

And with that, Bobby disappeared back to his side of the dinner hall and I scraped my leftovers into the slosh bucket. My recently devoured chicken nuggets and tator tots immediately began a contest to see which could swirl faster and by the time I got back to my table, I was sure we'd all see that lunch again before the day was over.

The rest of the day was a blur. I knew I'd sealed my fate for the night and it was no one's fault but mine. Anytime I even suspected I might run into Bobby at rec or swim time, I went the opposite way. And I made sure to stay surrounded by a gaggle of girls. There is no protection from an icky boy like that of your girls. And when campfire time came, it was that same gaggle that saved me. A girl at each side, plus a couple walking in front of us and a couple behind made a human fortress until we got ourselves settled on the hard benches in a section far from any couples.

I didn't even look around to see what happened to D.A.R.E. Bobby.


  1. I remember those awkward days! Thank goodness for girlshields...I mean. friends!

  2. Girlshields... that's funny!
    Thanks for your lurking on my blog, Louise! Glad to "meet" a new friend. I enjoyed your comment too, and now I'm wondering how you found me anyway. (Did you Google yourself? Ha, ha...)
    I look forward to visiting you more!

  3. Thanks again for your comment, Louise! I'm glad that you are visiting my blog, since it's off the beaten path a bit! Thank you! Keep in touch!