I Joined the Camp Fire Girls
By Jeff Hopkins
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.
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.
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.
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
Camp Fire Girls.
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.
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.
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.
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
but it didn't matter to me, because so did Angie. And
we got to nuzzle together like ponies. I was ecstatic.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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