Shucking the Tamale

 tamale

“Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).

I don’t have a girlfriend. I have a Beagle, so I should have a girlfriend, the same as my dog. I’m a good-looking cool-enough fleek guy. I’m sure I could have one and still hang with the guys. I would like a girlfriend, but I’m not creeping over it.

There’s a girl who lives three or four blocks away who I like. She’s nice cute sweet, and pretty, all there. Her name is Laurel. I met her when we ran cross-country together. I didn’t know her before that, but after we met we just became good friends fast, although I haven’t asked her anything about being my girlfriend.

Sometimes we run races in the Rocky River Metropark, just her and me and nobody else. No tricycles are allowed in the park, making you feel awkward, all third-wheel.

I always win the races, always.

She’s not like a model, but that would be annoying, anyway. She’s a sportsman. She’s active and she’s smart, too. Laurel’s a little shorter than me, not as skinny, and has long, brown hair. She’s super nice. I like girls who are super nice.

And, super cute, of course.

Some girls are cute and some aren’t. It’s great to be a hot girl, but you shouldn’t like a girl just because she’s hot. You should like them because they’re nice people, or they’re smart, or they try in school. They shouldn’t just be able pretty face it.

But, the first thing I think of whenever I see a new girl is, she’s hot, or not so hot. That really is the first thing I think of. The second thing I think about is whether I want to say hi to them and third is maybe talk to them. I try to be careful at first. If it looks like they might be mean girls, then I don’t want to be around them.

If they’re just your normal all-around girls and they are really nice and sweet, then I love that. It shouldn’t be all about looks. Some guys will see a girl and say, “She’s ugly”, even though nobody thinks with their face. Or they’ll say, “She’s just regular,” and go the other way. I like them better when they’re cute and nice and not butt heads.

The hot girls always know they’re hot if they’re actually that way. They know they’re hot, believe me. If you happen to be friends with them it’s not like talking to anybody different, like a regular girl. But, if you’re not friends with them and meet them somewhere on the spot they can be rude.

MORE THAN RUDE!

When I’m with my friends we talk about girls, but we don’t talk about girlfriends too much. Many of us don’t have them. Some of us want girlfriends, but don’t know what to do about it. We talk about GIRLS, but not GIRLFRIENDS. We talk about pretty ones, ugly ones, and weird ones, all kinds, really.

Weird girls are weird, but not quirky, although they can be quirky, especially how they act, and how they are towards people. They’re never the babes, but sometimes they’re the quirky sidekick. They can be anti-social and not side-kicky. They don’t want to be around people talk to them meet new people. There are many girls like that. They’re insecure, or sometimes they’re not allowed to talk to guys.

Parents do that to them. They make girls and guys do things in life like they themselves didn’t have anything to do with making it like it is. Old people crap out and forget what it’s like. They FORGET they were the ones who made it all happen.

My friend Hunter, who’s in the locker next to me, isn’t allowed to have a girlfriend. His parents told him he couldn’t until he turned sixteen.

“Are you serious?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t want to spend money on them, anyway. That’s all they ever ask for, money money money.”

I was, like, “Hunter!”

Girls don’t do that ALL the time. They aren’t Midas, unless they’re the hot Catholic girls from St. Joe’s. The nice girls will ask you to get them ice cream and munchies. But, you’re going to do that for them, anyway, if you like them, or are their friend.

I started noticing girls the July after seventh grade when I was at summer camp. I called them the tamale’s, among other things. Some were hot some were nice some were mean. You have nice people and you have mean people. I didn’t like the mean girls.

Sometimes you talk to a girl and they act like you don’t matter, or worse.

“Oh, my God, I’m so COOL, you’re so DUMB, leave me alone.”

They’re all dolled up. It’s all about horsepower to them.

They’re a boat load of snotty and snobby. They prance the streets like serious little dudettes, all spotless and snooty, looking down their noses. I can eat anywhere myself, so I’m not like that, sniffing the air for odor.

Their perception of people, how they think about everyone, and talk about someone, is mean to the core. They never smile when no one else is around. They never frown unless they mean it. They’re so annoying I call them sociopaths, which was my favorite word at camp last summer, until I wore the crap out of it.

The meanest girl at camp the past two summers has been Natalie. She’s the meanest Canadian person I’ve ever known.

She’s short, and snooty, but not fat. But, she’s not like a twig, either. She’s more like a normal person with knockers. She wears a butt load of make-up, which is sort of weird for a fourteen-year-old. She dances around, acting and acting, and is always saying, “Oh, my God.”

She dyes her hair, too. She colors it all kinds of different pigments, black, bleach blonde, and it’s all completely weird.

She brought a tiny table to camp so she would have a place to put her make-up on. If you wear make-up it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re snooty. But, it’s the thing with her, and it does make her DEFINITELY. She whines about stupid stuff that’s truly stupid. We’re in the same morning classes after cabin clean up and inspection, so I know. Whenever we had to do anything together in class she would just whine and whine and whine about it.

“Oh, my God, I’m not doing that.”

The only reason was she didn’t want to do anything, at all. Instead, she wanted to sit around and be annoying, basically. Sometimes when she talks she sounds like someone’s sister playing the violin. She has a lot of friends even though most of them aren’t like her.

That’s something I don’t understand.

She has a party tray of enemies. Some of my friends who are the sweet girls and who are nice just hate her. They won’t be in the same cabin with her. They turn their backs and walk out. They’re all the same age, but they don’t like each other.

Natalie’s best friends are Chloe, Amelia, and Hannah, They’re all the same kind of people, they’re all in the same cabin, and they’re all in my morning group, which sucks. Chloe is just like Natalie, but more annoying, so I don’t like her at all.

Amelia wears a crap load of make-up, like Natalie, but it’s probably because of her birthmark. She doesn’t whine all the time, although she does want to sit around most of the time.

I don’t even know about Hannah, she’s so weird. She’s a stick.

“Turn sideways,” I said. She did.

“Stick out your tongue,” I said. She did.

“Ha, ha, ha, you look like a zipper.”

“Ha, ha, yourself,” she said. “I’m a sniper’s nightmare.”

I liked her much more after that.

I’m not sure if the Natalie gang is pretentious or dead, dead serious.

The biggest difference between the Natalie gang and the nice girls is that nice girls are fun to be around. They don’t whine about stupid stuff, like having to wake up, or play sports all day on sports day. The nice girls even play the dizzy bat with us between games on the soccer field. At the end of the spin the sidelines are strewn with everybody flattened out on the ground, grabbing for grass to keep from falling off the edge of the world.

They don’t send off the superior vibe, either. They don’t try to act like all that, little prissy girls running around, trying to make a ruckus of things. They don’t press you down with their little laughs.

The mean girls want to sit in their cabin and talk a train load of stupid stuff, or doll up and talk to their boys whenever they can. The mean girls like the boys who like them, the ones who are Belieber boys, and especially the ones who are ripped.

The mean girls truly like ripped boys, but nice girls like everybody, except boys who are mean, no matter how ripped they are.

There is a wide wide dividing line between the nice girls and the mean girls. They don’t get along and it’s serious business. Last summer Katrina, one of the very, very mean girls, charged another girl and got kicked out of camp because of it. That’s the worst thing that can happen to anybody at summer camp.

We hung with the girls at camp all last summer. We talked chilled had rages in their cabins, but never in ours. A rage is like having a rage with people who are your friends and keep it to themselves. Rages are the bomb. They’re awesome – trust me on that.

TRUST ME!

Music pumps and you’re having fun going wild going crazy. You party at your hardest, out of control, although not exactly all out of control.

Boys are not allowed to be in the girl’s cabins at night, but my friends and I go to their side of the camp at least once a day. We sneak around the woods and climb in through the back window. The guys could run to the front door, but the back window is better. We mostly rage during the day because getting caught at night is more likely, and more likely to bring more trouble when it happens.

The camp counselors only chew you out if they catch you during the day. It’s a different slant on things if they catch you at night.

The one time I almost got caught was bad. It was at night. We were cutting down a path, zigzagging to the girl’s side of the camp, keeping low and slow. When we got to the jungle gym next to the sport’s field we ran into Jonas and Alana. They were making out.

Jonas is a counselor. Alana is almost a counselor.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jonas asked, jumping up.

We just stood there.

“Go back to your cabin,” he said, shrugging. “I don’t care.”

When Jonas was a camper he used to bring fireworks and spray paint to camp. One summer no one’s ever forgotten he tagged the inside of one of the counselor cabins.

We were jogging back past the tall birch trees behind our cabin when we saw flashlights crisscrossing in the windows. The counselors were inside looking for us. We had packed our sleeping bags with leaves covered over with clothes. The flashlights were stabbing all around and the counselors were laughing. We lay on the ground when they came out. They didn’t notice we were there. Once they were gone we ran into the cabin.

“Are you kidding me?” Logan sputtered, coughing up a gummy bear.

We were all laughing and yelling and punching each other.

In the morning they dragged us out of bed early and made us sweep the mess hall. While we were working Father Elliott and the camp commander came in. They saw us cleaning up and didn’t know why, but they were so impressed they gave us a ton of Liberty Dollars for the auction.

It was sort of a slap in the face to the counselors, although I don’t think they ever found out about it.

Every morning Raymond the night guard would staple the screens we ripped off the girl’s cabins back onto the window frames. He was a Lithuanian who had been in the Russian Army, like my Uncle Valdas. He was an ex-Spetsnaz. Uncle Valdas had to ride around in and fix tanks in Afghanistan. Spetsnaz did different kinds of dirty work.

One day Titus, one of our cabin guys who peeps in the corner by the door, was stung in the ear by a hornet. He started crying. Raymond, the night guard, told him to “tough it out.”

He would stand behind our cabin at night, in the bushes, or next to a birch tree. He said he liked birch trees because they bent, but never cracked. Once, at two in the morning, Logan started screaming at him.

“Get out of here, man!”

But, he didn’t. He came around to our front door.

“Boys, get to bed,” he said, more softly even than it was dark and quiet. But, everybody could tell he meant it.

Sometimes when we were in the girl’s cabins someone would knock on the door. We always jumped underneath a bed or in between any crack we could find.

“Hold on, we’re changing,” the girls would singsong.

We just waited where they couldn’t see us, quiet and hiding out. The counselors came in for random reasons, but they didn’t care about the noise, as long as it wasn’t nighttime. There’s music playing all the time, anyway. Nobody cared as long as there weren’t massive amounts of f-bombs in the songs. If they caught you raging during the day they would just laugh and call you pathetic.

“Idiots,” they’d say.

We dance to the beats, although Logan slowed it down one day and sang I Did It My Way and everybody loved it. For the rest of camp whenever we chanted his name he had to jump on a picnic table and lead everyone in I Did It My Way.

There isn’t much room to dance in the cabins because girls bring so much crap to camp. They have a pavilion with drawers in the middle of their cabins where they put everything. We dance on the beds jumping around running around. We open the drawers and throw stuff on the ground.

It’s a rage, so throw it in the air, it’s flying all around.

YOLO!

After the electro pump music and Skrillex samba, chilling and eating their candy out the wazoo, we would all go back to our cabins and do what had to be done before dinner. You’re only at camp for two weeks and there are no trading days the rest of the year.

Madison was my favorite girl at camp last summer. She’s my age, just a papoose shorter than me, and dirty blond. But, she wasn’t too dirty blond. I didn’t know we had known each other at camp for five years until she told me.

She’s pretty and nice and doesn’t try to be an “Oh, my God” girl. She’s smart and kind, and likes me especially because I’m funny. She appreciates the whole nine yards of me. We talk in the woods every day. Most of the time I can’t remember what we’ve talked about. I just stare at her and listen as best I can.

She talks about her girl stuff her clothes her friends, and all of what she likes.

“That’s cool,” I say.

I danced with her at the last camp dance as much as I could, but it wasn’t easy because I’m the BOSS at dances. I love dancing. It’s the best day and night. I’m completely happy when I dance. I just forget everything, especially when I’m dancing close and cheesy. What makes me dance even more is when there’s a boat load of summer camp girls reaching.

Everybody wants to dance with me. The girls and guys get in a circle and I go in the middle of it, breaking moves. They can’t resist me.

Our cabin got a bonus for being the cleanest, although I don’t know how. It was actually disgustingly dirty. We got to pick a cabin of girls and rage with them for a half-hour at the Saturday night dance. They let us pick the play list, too. We made it a mix of party songs and slow songs. It was pretty smooth and it was very awesome.

What makes me the BOSS is I do the party boy, popping beats, and shuffling at dances. I’m learning how to liquid, too, which is something you do with your hands. One of the counselors goes to things called raves and he is teaching me how to do it.

At the end of our bonus time, after going crazy, we did some sweet dancing. I love party music, but that night it was a close second. The slow dancing was just a nip better. Madison and I danced the last two dances together.

It was nice satisfying epic sweet. It’s all about tamales being tamales.

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