Something you should know about me is that from a very young age I decided that reality just wasn’t for me, and that I was going to spend about 100% of my time pretending I was anyone else. The result was that I was a horrible little liar fascinated with my ability to trick people, especially kids my own age.
For seven years I attended various sleep away summer camps, and these were the perfect environments for inventing entire identities and lies myself. Mostly, these had to do with pretending I had magic powers or was in some way supernatural. Here are a few:
- In an attempt to convince my entire cabin that I was a vampire, I made the nightly effort to fall asleep on my back with my arms crossed over my chest, just like I envisioned a vampire might do in a coffin. (And never mind that this whole charade took place at…night…when any self-respecting vampire would be out and about feeding.) I’d try to wake up early too, just to make sure I hadn’t lost my pose in the night, and eventually my body just learned to do this over the course of a few weeks. From time to time I still wake up like this.
- In an attempt to convince my entire cabin that I was a professional gymnast, I lied about being able to walk on my hands. In no version of this scenario did I envision I would then have to walk on my hands, so I refused, which was suspicious, and THEN I had to make up a lie about not performing gymnastic tricks out of competition because I was contractually enslaved to my coach and his gymnasium. One of the kids told our counselor this and I had to sit with him and convince him that I was okay after lunch one day. But I never gave up on my gymnast persona.
- For three whole weeks I carried around a walking stick because I liked the idea of having a magical staff. This is something I confessed to a few core members of a ~*~Nature Witchcraft Clan~*~ I would later found out of boredom (and because of the movie The Craft), but for everyone else I claimed I had a rough childhood. I claimed that, if separated from THIS PARTICULAR STICK, I would become ferocious.
- For some reason I always lied about being able to tie knots, and I ALWAYS got caught. Do you know who everyone turns to when you’re tasked with building a raft to transport your cabin group across the lake in the dead of night for a team building activity? The kid that has been talking about tying knots nonstop for the past two weeks. I think I did this because:
- I did do a knot-tying course once in boy scouts, which I failed out of (firstly because I was too gay, and secondly because at a young age I developed a hatred for having to earn anything through merit). I feel like my knot-tying lies where an effort to return me to the fold of the flagrantly Homoerotic Americana that emanates from the Boy Scouts, and less about actually tying anything together. I just liked the nautical nature of it all, and I think I also lied about being raised on a boat, so these things all connected in one way or another.
- A was going through a Celtic knot phase at the time.
- Bonnie tripped and fell near the llama and I told her she probably had lice and she got so upset that her entire cabin had to be checked. This wasn’t magic-related but it really felt like magic watching all those girls run around screaming and then get quarantined.
- There was a kid who was colorblind in my bunk one year and I was horribly jealous of the attention this brought him, so I made up a condition in which I was not colorblind but…hyper SENSITIVE to color, and I had to pretend I couldn’t look at anything yellow for like three days until people forgot.
- For a brief stint I claimed I could read fortunes and futures using a few pebbles and a chicken bone I found on the ground. I set up a little shop during snack time and you could trade me your snack for some magical insight. Before you judge me, you need to know that as a child my hunger for Swedish Fish was MONSTROUS and CONTROLLING, and so really who is the victim in this story? We all have our vices and mine were little red fish.
- For a brief stint I claimed I was a witch doctor and that my potions could remedy anything. All of my potions were soda mixed with dirt and pine needles. All of them. And they could only be purchased via Swedish Fish.
- I made up VOLUMES of stories about the sea monsters that lived in the fresh water lake of Colebrook, Connecticut. VOLUMES.
- On the topic of the lake, this was about the time that The Thirteenth Year was popular, so for most of free swim I would pretend to be a mermaid. Mostly this meant flapping about the reedy shallows of the lake, singing, and flipping my hair in a grandiose way like Ariel does in The Littler Mermaid.
- Idiotically, I once claimed to be fireproof.
- Idiotically, I told the metal working teacher that I was a trained blacksmith.
- Idiotically, I claimed I was immune to poison ivy because of a freak lab accident as a child. This actually turned to be true (the immunity part, not the lab accident, so far as I know).
- This is probably its own post, but for a few two years running I started a small witchcraft coven in my bunk after someone started a rumor that I could control the weather, which I mostly believed to be true. (It was me; I started the rumor.) I was REALLY interested in elemental control at this age thanks to both Sailor Moon and Captain Planet, and so as the lore of my atmospheric magic spread through the camp I began to recruit disciples. Mostly these were other idiots in my cabin with a penchant for whimsy, and upon these poor kids I did esoteric ceremonies that revealed to me their past lives as any number of mythical characters (mostly just adaptations of the X-men). But this was very hastily done, and without any research, so sometimes I had to revise someone’s past life if I contradicted myself, which was often. Then, in group sessions, I would teach magic during our free time. Looking back, this was mostly me teaching yoga posses and the grandfather’s chant from Jackie Chan Adventures–you know, the one where he goes Yu Mo Gui Gwai Fai Di Za). Then, when no one really mastered their element, I would make snide remarks about their aptitude for magic, which would then triple their devotion. Just a mess.
There are about a hundred other weird things I did at summer camp, mostly in an effort to be cooler than I actually was. I wish I could say that I sit here writing this with a lesson learned about honesty, integrity, and a noble adherence to reality, but that’s not true. It’s sort of the opposite of true. Sure, I haven’t pulled these shenanigans in years, but I do spend almost all of my free time making up stories about fantasy and magic. The difference is that instead of acting them out and impressing them upon the people around me, I take care to write them down and send them to literary agents. It’s really not that different, and I don’t think I deserve any credit for changing.
Really the only thing that’s changed about me is my interest in Swedish Fish. This, thankfully, has waned.
And also Bonnie if you ever read this I’m sorry for that one time I convinced you that you had lice because you fell over near a llama!!!!!