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Three Short Parts
It was when I got accepted to Chatagua. That’s when it all started. I can’t remember why I wanted to go there. I guess it was so hyped up in that stupid video. It all seemed so cool. I guess I didn’t consider the factors such as I didn’t know a goddamn soul, or that I’m not interested much in sports. But my parents seemed to think it was a good idea. My mom said, “The experience would be amazing.” But I think she just wants me out of the house.
My parents don’t understand me much. They’re always at some stupid fund-raising event or some party they only go to for the famous guest appearances that never show. It’s all pointless to me. I don’t see the point in most things if you want the whole truth. The only person in my family who gets me is my older brother Tom. He’s in 10th grade, and even though we’re so far apart in age, he’s closer to me than anyone in my New York Private, overrated Prep school. Tom’s got talent and I think that’s why me and him bond. I got talent too. He likes to write and I like to draw. It’s all art related. The exact opposite of what my parents approve of. My parents want me to be the first female president. I said I would be, if they found some really awesome disguise for me as a man.
So anyway, getting back to Chatagua. I’m not sure why I wanted to go there. The whole lure of summer camp was vibrant in my school. Everyone went. That kid Daemon in Room 503, he said he’s been going to summer camp since 2nd grade, 3 years ago. I didn’t believe him though. In 2nd grade I don’t think I could even read real good.
What happened on the first day of Chatagua was, we all lined up, see? We lined up bunk by bunk after that 4 hour bus ride. I said bye to my parents from the window of the bus, but they were too busy talking on their stupid cell phones. They’re always on those pointless phones talking to someone just as pointless.
The first person I met at Chatagua was Lucy. Ol’ Lucy. She stood next to me in the line. She whispered over her shoulder, “Got any gum?” I said no, I didn’t. But Lucy kept asking me stuff anyway for the hell of it. She kept askin’, like, “Is it going to rain?” or “What’s your middle name?” I kept giving her succinct answers and she got annoyed. She turned around and pointed at me, shouting to our counselor, “This girl,” she looked at my name-tag, “Angie, she’s weird.” Everyone laughed. I don’t see why it was funny. It was a completely pointless thing to say. Everything in that place was pointless.
The second person I met at Chatagua was Kelly. She kept making fun of my name. “Angie Gross, Angie Gross. That’s gross. Eww! Everyone, Angie’s gross.” That’s when I met Laura, our counselor. She told everyone to stop making fun of my name, that it wasn’t very nice and how would you like it if someone made fun of your name.
The activities at Chatagua were boring. Same old sports we played in gym. Sports are pointless, I tell you. Running around in some dirt field. I wanted to draw. But the art program at Chatagua was about as creative as an English class back home. So basically, I just followed instructions and met expectations. I was no one special. I guess you could say I was pointless.
Over the summer is when I got real mad at Tom. He was becoming too old for me, so he thought. Acting like I wasn’t good enough-like. Cause he didn’t come to visiting day. I mean, looking back at it now, I wouldn’t have gone either. But at the time, he should of come.
It was real pointless of my parents to come. I didn’t want to see them and they didn’t want to see me. In the huge crowd of running parents, my parents sat down and waited for me. I went over and the first thing my father said was, “Are there showers at this camp?” Well the truth was, I hadn’t showered in a long time. The shower house line was real long-like. And I didn’t like getting naked in front of the entire female population of Chatagua. However, I figured that if I brought my shampoo to the lake, it wouldn’t matter. But than old Laura saw me and sent me back to the bunk as a punishment. I didn’t know why I was punished though. It wasn’t like I did a crime. I wanted to smell better.
When my parents left, I went back to the cabin and wrote Tom an angry letter. I told him that I never wanted to see him again. Only now that’s not true, I do see him cause he lives close to me now, but it’s only cause he feels he has to visit me. Ol’ Tom never really wants to do anything now. Tom changed. He used to like to do stuff. Now he has to do stuff. Stuff like come see me at my place. My place is only temporary though see. I had a bit of a meltdown at Chatagua. It was too pointless.
My meltdown all started when all the other girls ignored me. Which was after they had teased me about everything I did. The way I brushed my teeth, the way I tied my shoes, everything, see? It was a lose-lose situation. I wasn’t real fond of Chatagua or the people in it. They were all phonies.
The only thing worthwhile at Chatagua was kayaking. Canoeing was bad, because you had to share a boat with one of those girls. But when I was kayaking, I was alone.
I got so mad at those girls that I actually hit one of em’. I hit old Lucy really hard because she called me ugly. I don’t know if she’s right or not but I know you’re not supposed to go around calling people ugly. It’s wrong. But Lucy didn’t say to the owners of Chatagua that she called me ugly. She said I punched her hard, and that was it. I did punch her hard I suppose; she needed an ice-pack for a long time.
I guess you can say this is where the story starts. That’s how I got here, to my place now. But to tell the whole truth, I don’t feel like telling the story much right now. Maybe later, another time I suppose.
This is how the whole hell-of-a-thing happened. In that stupid waiting room, Lucy and I were silent. I looked at her right after she looked at me. She was swinging her feet and I was biting my cuticles. Than the secretary said the owners were ready for us.
The owners were two guys. One’s name was Bill and the other Ray. Bill was really tall, with gray hair. He wore a really revolting sweater, I remember, like Bill Cosby. And Ray was shorter, with a blond comb-over and thick, brown glasses.
I walked in and I immediately realized that Lucy was going to blame it all on me. No, wait, that’s not what I realized. I knew that. I realized that these two guys were going to listen. Look at Lucy, her perfect, silky brown ponytail tied with a pink ribbon. Her perfectly pressed Ralph Lauren collared shirts and a jean skirt everyday. And look at me. I had thick, curly black hair always messily pulled back into an attempt at a bun. My shirt was a white, dirty old t-shirt that always had some sort of location on it because my parents go away and bring me back pointless things like that.
Also, Lucy was popular in our bunk. She had all the girls on her side. I had no one. No one but the rat under one of the beds as my witness. As a witness to the injustice I dealt with.
Lucy and I sat in two big chairs in front of Bill and Ray. Lucy immediately started talking. Without giving me so much as a chance to introduce myself. “That girl sitting next to me, punched me really, really hard in the stomach. See my ice-pack? It was dreadful, I tell you. On the first day of camp, see, I was trying to be all-nice. Trying to make friends with the new girl. All she did was look at me and give me one word answers. I didn’t know what I was doing. Everyone else likes me a whole lot.” Lucy panted because she was so out of breath. Bill and Ray looked at me. It was my turn.
“I’m Angie. And it’s true that I did punch Lucy. But I couldn’t control it. I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. All this summer, Lucy and the other girls make fun of me. They always do for everything. I can’t blink without being teased. This time though, Lucy went too far. She called me ugly. I’m not so sure if I’m pretty, but I know it’s not right to call someone ugly. I was so upset. I’m sorry.”
I turned to see Lucy’s mouth open as if to say I’m a liar. But Bill and Ray had a concerned expression. They escorted Lucy out of the room, thanking her for the help. But they kept me. Lucy was smiling when they saw they kept me. I was really nervous though. It was like a goddamn detective’s office or something.
Bill and Ray than started asking me these questions. They asked me if I always had problems with other children, or if I ever hurt anyone at school. I said no and no. But than Ray asked me if I had a friend at Chatagua. I said no. Bill asked me why. I said because this camp was pointless. And that’s how it happened.
Only that’s the thing about adults. They ask you questions and say they genuinely want to know the answer, that they won’t do anything to you whatever you say, they’re just curious. But that’s never true. It’s pointless talking to adults. Whatever you say, they, correct you, argue with you or say you need help. The third thing’s what happened to me I suppose.
So what happened after that was that Bill stayed with me in the office while Ray went to go call my parents. He said that they would want to know what happened. So Bill struck up a conversation with me. “Like camp so far, Angie? Besides the whole bunk issue, are the activities ok?” I didn’t know if I should answer honestly or not. I don’t think offending people is right. I mean, he owns the goddamn place. He must work real hard tryin’ to make everyone happy. So I said, “It’s alright. I mean, I’m not an athlete so the sports aren’t that fun for me. And I’m not a big fan of the food. But that’s not the camps fault. I shouldn’t of come here. I should’ve known that I didn’t like sports and that camp food is always gross.” I was very satisfied with what I said. It was honest, but not rude. For some reason though, Bill started laughing. He was laughing so hard; he slapped his hand on his thigh. “You’re one smart kid, Angie. You know that? I never encountered anyone at Chatagua quite like you.”
Just then, Ray came back. “Your folks said they’d be here tomorrow morning.” I wondered what they were going to do with me when I got here. Was I going home? I wasn’t so sure I wanted that. My parents aren’t the most pleasant people to be with 2 months straight. During the school year, of course I have to endure them, but I’m at school all day. I’m not so sure I want to go home. I mean it’d be sort of giving up on something that’s half way started. Giving up isn’t right. It’s goddamn weak is what it is.
Bill asked me if I was ok with going back to the bunk for tonight. I said it was fine. But it wasn’t. “What’d they do to ya?” asked Kelly, “Did they make you eat worms?” I didn’t want to answer. I just plain didn’t feel like it is all. So, what I said was that they called my parents, plain and simple. I left it at that.
Lucy came up to me. She pranced across the bunk in her dinner clothes: a white collared Polo and blacks jeans. Her hair was in a braid, probably done by a counselor. “Are you in trouble?” That’s all she said. So I thought she was sincerely concerned. I mean she might have some kind of guilty conscious, lying to the owners of Chatagua and all.
“Yep, I think I am.” I said. I wanted her to feel guilty. I swear I did.
“Oh great. Now my parents are going to have to be involved. They say they hate when me or my sister has problems because they can’t take time away from work to deal with petty issues. Oh great. Now because of you and your bad punching habits, I’m in trouble too. Thanks for blabbing!”
I got so mad after that. Real mad. I thought she really cared. But all she cared about was her needs. So I kicked her, kicked her real soft in the butt. But than, this time, a counselor saw.
“Angie Gross! Did you just kick Lucy? After all the talks you’ve had today. What is she doing that’s making you so mad?” said Laura. But this time, she didn’t seem mad. She seemed concerned, like there was something wrong with me.
I couldn’t explain to Laura that Lucy was upset because she was worried her parents would get her in trouble because I was in trouble. I had trouble just thinking that.
So all I said was, “Lucy hates me and I hate her is all.”
Laura said it’d be a good idea if I slept with the counselors tonight. She said because it’s one of the counselors’ vacation days and there’d be a free bed. That’d it be perfect. But I felt awful and awkward. Lying down in some random counselors smelly bed was the absolute worst solution. I wanted my bed, and my pillow with my flashlight on the shelf so I could read my Archie comic and cuddle with my bear Brown Bear. So, when Laura thought I was asleep, I got up and went into my bed. Only, in the middle of the night, Laura screamed. She searched for me and found me in my bed. She didn’t bother make me move. She just kind of stood there with that concerned expression again. I asked her why she was concerned. “Because I’m not sure if you’re ok, Angie. I think something big is bugging you or something. I don’t know.” She stared back at the floor.
That morning I saw my parents in front of the office door. They hugged me cause they had to and than we went inside. But than, my mom told me to wait outside. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, so I looked at something hanging on the wall. A picture of the Chatagua lake looking as dirty as ever.
I wasn’t real sure of why everyone was making such a big deal out of a punch. I think this whole thing’s just plain sexist if you want the whole truth. Boys hit each other all the time and no one calls their parents about it unless someone really gets hurt. It’s sexist I tell you. If I were a boy, I wouldn’t be here. Everything would be dandy. Being a boy would be so much better. No one would’ve called me ugly, or teased me or anything. When two boys hate each other, they battle it out like men. Girls are evil and sneaky and mean. I hate them.
When the adults were done, they came out of the room and my dad bent down real low like, to get down on my level. He said I needed help with my behavior. Then he explained that I had an issue called anger management. I said I knew what it was, but he explained anyway. He said it was when I couldn’t control my anger. I said I knew that and it didn’t take a brain surgeon to figure that one out.
Then he said something that changed everything. He said I needed to leave Chatagua for this summer. I needed to go somewhere that could help me solve my anger management. I told him I didn’t want to. He said I had to. I kicked his shin and started running out of the office, down the stairs. But, Bill got a hold of me. He said he was sorry to see me go, but that he knew it was the right thing. I looked him straight in the eye. “Thank you for being honest with me. You’re not a phony like everyone at this place. You don’t talk if it’s pointless.”
Angie Gross, after leaving Chatagua, went to a different sleep-away camp for children with special needs. Angie didn’t change her ways of thinking, she still thought this camp was full of phonies and pointless, but the other children were nicer to her and she made lots of friends. Angie’s parents also changed Angie’s school. She left her prep school and went to a special school for kids with slight disorders. Angie started to improve her ways within school walls, but on the outside, when with other regular kids, the violent behaviors continued. Tom, her brother, was embarrassed by his somewhat retarded sister. Angie and him grew farther and farther apart, until the relationship completely dissolved when Tom went cross-country to University of L.A.
Angie grew up to be a teacher, in the special school she attended, teaching the art classes. She lived with her parents until she was 30, when she moved in with her friend from high school. Angie never married or had kids, but she felt her students were her kids.
Angie died at 61, of a brain tumor. Tom did not attend the funeral, her parents were long dead. The only people who attended were Lucy and her husband and most of her bunk at Chatagua.