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Why I Joined the Camp Fire Girls
By Jeff Hopkins

I started puberty when I was nine years old, so I don't think I ever really got a handle on who I was before I began to change who I was to get girls to like me.

I guess if I regret anything more than my Spin Doctor's tattoo, it's all the times I've changed to try and get a girl to like me. I've changed musical tastes, eating habits, religions, and political affiliations. I quit a job and moved cross-country because of women three different times. But the dumbest thing I ever did for a girl was something I did for Angie Jenson in the fourth grade.

Angie Jenson was blonde. She had blue eyes. And she was from Australia. So she had this beautiful accent. This was long before Crocodile Dundee and Outback Steakhouse convinced us that Australians were all complete idiots. Why did I fall in love with her? I could say it was a combination of her beauty or her accent and the fact that she used Dr Pepper Bonnie Bell Lip Gloss while all the other girls still used Bubblegum flavor. Maybe it was those things a little bit, but in all truth it was the fact that puberty had also struck Angie Jenson early, and a lot, so that she had the biggest boobs in Kansas City by the fourth grade. I was hormonally imprisoned by her spell.

Fate brought her from Australia to Kansas City to be with me, but forces still kept us apart from each other. There were two different fourth grade classes in my elementary school; Angie was in one and I was in the other. So I got to know her schedule, and realized the only way for me to be close to her on a regular basis was by joining…the Camp Fire Girls.

The Camp Fire Girls changed their rules the year before so that boys could join if they wanted to, but no self-respecting boy other than me did. Because even though the rules had changed, their uniforms hadn't. On days we had meetings I went to school wearing a red kerchief around my neck and a blue vest with a patch that said "Camp Fire Girls." I wore this over a white blouse my mom lent me, as she figured it was a just phase and I'd quit in a week.

But I didn't. I loved it. Camp Fire meetings were every Wednesday in the school library, and it usually started out with a song. We girls would get in a circle and hold hands and sing the Official Camp Fire Song, which in hindsight had fascist overtones. But I didn't care because I would always position myself so that I was holding hands with juggylicious fourth grader Angie Jenson.

The first couple weeks of Camp Fire Girls were rough. Boys from my class would take a break from intramural basketball practice and come by and point and laugh. Even the other girls in the troop were wary at first, they'd gone through Bluebirds together and I hadn't, so they were a tight knit group. But after a few weeks, as I'd hoped, their trepidation went away and I became just "one of the girls." There were ten of us, and we had a great time -- every week was full of activities or field trips. When I wasn't busy trying to get close to Angie Jenson and maybe see down her shirt, Sheila Bryant was showing me how to French braid hair. One week Kim Lester taught us all sign language; Andrea Swenson showed me how to play "The Theme From Arthur" on the piano. It was glorious. I was never a sports guy; this was where I belonged.

The height of the school year was when we Camp Fire Girls performed together at the school assembly. We'd been on a field trip to a dude ranch, and to show people what we'd experienced, we all acted like horses and choreographed an interpretive dance to the song "Wild Fire" by Michael Martin Murphy. I had to wear a unitard…but it didn't matter to me, because so did Angie. And we got to nuzzle together like ponies. I was ecstatic.

The year was coming to an end, and I hadn't found a way to make my move with Angie. But at the last meeting before we left for summer vacation, our troop leader passed around a sign up sheet. It was for the Camp Fire Girls Spring Camporee in Knob Nobster, Missouri. The form got to me and Angie's name was on it. So I signed up for a week out in the woods with the girl of my dreams. That was where I'd make my move.

To get money for camp I had to sell candy door to door, wearing my uniform. Mint Meltaways, Caramel Whirls, Fund Raisins. I imagine paroled child molesters get a warmer reception going door to door than a sweating, pimply boy selling girls' candy. Every time a man standing in his doorway looked at me in my uniform and asked, "What are you, some kind of faggot?" I could say honestly, "No, sir. Quite the opposite. I like girls so much I join their youth organizations."

On the way from selling candy one day, I saw Angie laughing with future frat boy Matt Hansen at a break during his soccer practice. He was tan and athletic and almost as pretty as Angie. It looked serious, and I was worried, but I knew I'd have a whole week of camp to catch up. I would do anything for this girl.

A month later, I arrived at the Spring Camporee. I was the only boy in the camp, among five hundred girls ages 8-15. It was a nightmare. That's when everything turned to crap. Oh, there were a lot of activities at girls' camp; the first day was filled with sing-a-longs and ice-breakers, but I couldn't find Angie, or any of the other girls in my troop. Day two we learned about butterflies and made leather pony-tail holders. But no Angie. Next day we put on grass skirts and learned hula dancing. No Angie. I never saw her the whole time.

And these girls weren't nice like the girls in my troop. They were mean. They ganged up on me at splash fights in the pool, and laughed at my crappy attempts at square dancing, and my complete inability to hit the target in archery. I cried myself to sleep. I lost my appetite for everything, even S'mores.

I came back from camp with a suitcase full of crafts and a broken heart. I asked my mom to phone one of the other Camp Fire moms to see what was up. As it turned out, Angie didn't go to camp because Angie and her family moved back to Australia. I would never see her again. I became depressed, and self-medicated with comic books and heavy masturbation.

By the end of the summer I had some perspective. I realized that Angie didn't ask me to join Camp Fire Girls. She didn't know I was doing that for her. And why would that have made her be attracted to me anyway? She was from the land down under, where women glow and men plunder. She wanted to be with tan soccer god Matt Hansen, not some sad-sack loser dancing around the stage in a unitard.

Angie was the first in a long series of women I've done stupid things for. But not any more. I've got a new motto. I will never do anything stupid or humiliating for a woman unless she asks me to do it. I'm no sucker; from now on, if a girl wants me to ruin my life for her, she has to at least ask.

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