The Therapy Sessions
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Oh, my formative years...
Plagiarizing myself. Again.
I was once a camp counselor.
What's so funny?
Actually, I was pretty shitty at it. My worst memory occurred when I was harrassed by the camp dance instructor. It was horrible: she questioned why my cabin of boys never took her dance classes.
Let me repeat that: she wanted to know why these boys were not lining up to take her class, a class which instructed them in the finer points of ballet and ballroom dancing.
At first, I thought she was joking.
It slowly dawned on me that she was serious.
This woman - a professional dance teacher at a high school in NY state - had to ask such a question?
My answer - because they're boys - didn't satisfy her. She persisted, telling me it was my job to inspire my boys, to get them to try new things, different things.
Girl things, I thought.
I knew what would happen to the unlucky boy who publicly choose to go to dance class during his free period. Didn't everyone? I mean, where did this woman teach? Wimpy High?
I told her I would work on it.
At the next signup, I told the boys that dance wasn't just for girls, and it was a great way to stay in shape.
Many great athletes dance to improve coordination, I said.
Name one, the brats demanded.
I couldn't. I was trying to describe Michael Jordan. But the picture I was drawing looked more like Richard Simmons.
A week later, I was met by the music teacher again.
You said you would try, she said. Things hadn't changed, and this must be my fault.
"I can't force them to go," I protested.
She was off to see my boss. The whole time I'm thinking: how the fuck did I get myself into this job?
My boss was a cross between the Captains Steubing and Kangaroo. He lived in a land of kids, where he played the role of an authority figure.
Persistent adults - like my dance teacher - could manipulate him like a puppet.
When he spoke to me, his words sounded familiar: it's a counselor's job to inspire the children and get them to try new things, he said. When I told him that none of my boys had any desire to go to dance class, he rumpled his brow and began to look worried. I thought he understood for second, but then he sighed.
"We've never had this problem before," he said.
I found that hard to believe.
Now my cabin of 7 and 8-year-old boys had something of a discipline problem.
No really, it's true!
8-year-olds - surprisingly enough - tend to hold rule breakers and rebels in high esteem. My cabin had more than its share. These rabble-rousers were regarded as leaders. And I did not have much help keeping order. My co-counselor was from New Zealand. He took one look at our cabin of rich American brats and decided he'd rather chase grown American women. Not that I blamed him, but he left the job of maintaining discipline in my hands.
So I had group of boys with whom I needed a punishment. Corporal punishment was out (our society has a problem with counselors hitting kids, imagine that) and the most frightening weapon I had was to send the kids to see Captain Kangaroo. Even they thought that was like being pelted with marshmallows.
To maintain control, I needed a penalty so severe that these young boys would cringe at my rightous anger and comply.
And like a sign from God, some bitch was pressuring me to send my boys to her dance class, a fate they considered worse than death.
It seemed like a good idea at the time: mandatory dance class for boys who made my shit list.
The first - and last - boy to suffer this fate was some kid named Aaron.
Aaron - the prick - was a leader of the insurgency against me. He was the corpulent offspring of obscenely rich parents. They had left him at camp, with me, for ten weeks (most kids stayed for two) - while they summered in Italy. But, knowing Aaron, I understood. His parents actually tried to give me a tip - a fifty dollar bill - for taking him off their hands.
The boy was arrogant and whiny, but intelligent. He watched me operate for four weeks before he made his move. From his past experience, he knew when I was bluffing. He shared this information with his peers, using his status as a "veteran" to win the favor of the other boys.
He had to be crushed.
Little did I know that he was such a pussy.
Aaron crossed the line when we were canoeing. He went out too far, and he refused to come in when I told him to. The other kids laughed and thought he was deleriously funny.
For his optional period that day, Aaron had chosen archery. I informed him (with delight!) that as a result of his antics on the lake, he could never be trusted with a weapon.
He would be going to dance class.
He turned the most furious shade of red I have ever seen a person get.
"You can't do that!" He roared at me.
"I just did," I said.
The other boys began teasing him immediately. I was surprised when Aaron sulked off compliantly toward dance class. I watched him just to make sure he wouldn't bolt off at the last moment and hide behind a tree.
I would learn later what happened. Aaron - in the process of pirouetting with the girls - collapsed into a sobbing, quivering mass of lard. He told the teacher everything right there.
Her dance class? Being used as a "punishment!?" (And, clearly, an effective one?)
She somehow passed an eight-inch-brick through her tightly puckered asshole.
I ended up getting into even worse trouble with Captain Kangaroo - not that it mattered. Whenever he saw me, he wouldn't even look me in the eye. That meant he no longer thought I was his buddy.
And let's just say that the dance teacher never said another word to me.
Not long after, I decided that being a camp counselor was not a good career choice for me.
It was a good thing I was old enough to drink beer. And just like that, I'd found a new hobby.