Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bible Camp

(The following is by DS. -Brent)
Oh, tis a black and stormy night here at DarkSyde Manor! A Tropical Gothic Eve courtesy of Atlantic Winds and Coriolis forces befitting the virtual name I give my home. And while I'm tired and my eyes grow heavy, there will be little sleep for me tonight. Forgive me then, and hopefully no one will mind if I do a little reminiscing off topic, inspired by Brent's 'Lock-in" narrative. As I'm stuck inside here in Florida and can think of nothing significant to write; while listening anxiously to the outer winds and rains of far off Dennis howl and blast against the storm shutters protecting the windows.

Let's see ... Ahh the summer of '77. What a glorious time it was for my friends and I! We still roamed the suburban streets on bikes, cars were a year or two in our future. Most of us had been laid and all of us had gotten pretty close but it had only happened once or twice. Innocent still, yet knowledgeable in a way; just on the verge of that first delicious taste of independence without responsibility. How could I have ever known at the start of the summer break that both my savior and pimp would be, Bible Camp?

Around July of 1977 several friends and I had a little 24 hour party in the home of someone one of us was supposed to be taking care of and had the keys to. We were pretty rotten that night, we drank every drop of liquor in the house and pilfered every snack we could find. It was atrocious teenage behavior, out of control really and stupid. So even then and certainly now as an adult, I'm not the least bit surprised the owners called the parents of the guy who was supposed to just be feeding their dog and cat, when they returned and detected our Gala in their home despite marginal attempts to conceal the worst of it.

The drunken Key Holder on the night in question assured those of us who were smart enough to point out that we might be caught that he and he alone would take the fall if anything came down the pike; reportedly within 24 hours they had a list of everyone who'd been there. I heard the police showed up at his house and he sang like a canary and basically blamed everyone but himself.

Ahhh ... But I'd had an epiphany the day after the party, a sort of hedge just in case we ended up getting busted; as I was sure we would considering the massive evidence of abuse we left behind. So right after the incident, before the homeowners returned, I decided it would be a good idea to change my mind ... and go to a Baptist Summer Camp for two weeks like my fundie sister had been bugging me to do, with parental approval, for several days.

It wasn't as easy as it sounds. I had to pretend I really wanted to go because it was kind of late to be signing up and I'd been emphatic about not wanting to go before. I literally had to look my older sister in the eye and tell her I had read some of the New Testament and I wanted to learn more about Jesus ... she beamed in pleasure I remember at that claim; all sibling skepticism was switched off and she went into full witness mode. Yes, I know; I'm evil and I must be stopped! I was not even fifteen years old OK?

And by the time that dreaded phone call came from the homeowners and the police, I was fifty miles away ... at a Lakeside Bible Camp; and my mother told the accusers that in no uncertain terms. Who wanted to waste time accusing a kid at Bible Camp of being a little hoodlum when there were twenty others to crucify?

Meanwhile I was ducking culpability near scenic Perdanales Falls, in the hill country of Central Texas, with several hundred young people. Naturally within a few nights I gravitated to the 'cool rebels' barracks where the hip kids hung out and listened to local bands, The Big Boys, The Skunks, and early New Wave, The Talking Heads and the Sex Pistols. Because of the cassettes I'd brought along to keep me from going fucking insane with no decent music and to help drown out the incessant preaching I knew I would be forced to endure, not to mention I was one of only a handful of people to come 'prepared' if you know what I mean, I was quickly initiated and accepted. And there that first night playing my turn at Lookout for Adult Fundies Who Want To Ruin Our Cool Barracks Parties I met Rene, sweet and petite, young and pretty, a year older than I, and the horniest girl I had ever met at that point in my young life.

Rene was from a well to do Catholic family and she took some flak for not being a Baptist among her peers, but she was accepted by them nevertheless. She was just so fucking cool everyone liked her. Rene was also smart as hell, liked the Austin music scene in the late 70s, buff and lithe, and far more experienced than I in the carnal arts. In fact, she was an aggressive hypersexed adolescent machine who literally scared me by going straight from first base to third without passing second in about two minutes flat and then made a break to steal home plate. But I'd like to cling to the idea that she didn't know how nervous I was, at first.

Needless to say it was not a bad two weeks for me. By the time I got home the party at the house incident had faded away into obscurity and I was in the clear with a hard body new friend who like science and the outdoors. I have to say it was one of the best thought out plans of my life and really couldn't have worked out better. At that time and to this day I'm proud of my ingenuity if a bit embarrassed at my immature, thoughtless actions in another's persons home. Life went on, my sister never did understand why I didn't keep on going to services, and I couldn't tell her that sweet, sweet Rene was Catholic so there wasn't any point for me in going to a boring Baptist Church. I didn't have a license yet and Rene lived miles away so she and I lost touch.

A few years later I ran into her at a club on Sixth Street and we dated on and off for years as we each moved and returned from different colleges, as she got married, had a kid, and got divorced, as I went from a professional climbing instructor and semi-stunt man to a respectable white collar professional.

Rene was like the perfect friend and one of the best friends I've ever had. She thought and acted a lot like a guy, she was a gifted athlete and tough as nails, the other guys always thought she was cool, she was strikingly beautiful, she happened to not be a guy and we were both attracted enough to each other that we had fun; but neither of us ever fell totally for the other so we never got hurt. It was just a real good gig imo.

And to this day she and I are still friends and if I were to become single I could call her up anytime and head over for wild drunken barnyard animal sex, or we could get all dressed up and hit the town, or both.

So I really can't think of any moral for this story ... I was one of many punks who invaded someone's house without their permission and helped drink up their liquor and eat their food and leave trash all over the inside and yard; I lied and said I was interested in learning more about Jesus and my parents paid a couple of hundred bucks so I could go off to Bible Camp and avoid the consequences; I hung out and got stoned most of the time and listened to punk rock; I met a pretty girl and got laid any chance we could find a way or sneak off; I got back and nothing went wrong, she didn't turn up pregnant and I didn't come down with the clap or anything; We stayed in touch and are de facto fuck buddies to this day whenever we're both single and lonely ... There is no moral or point to this story. No political axe to grind, no agenda, nothing but escape from the feeder bands of Dennis. And it ends now.

Or maybe there is a moral after all, an axe to grind, a fly in the ointment...

As Kingubu adds in comments:
Maybe there actually is a timely moral to your little tale: a fast-break toward the institutions of religious conformity (however insincerely) is a very popular and effective way to duck accountability for bad behavior. See also: just about anyone in the GOP holding an office above dog catcher.
What else can I say? Bible Camp was a Great Dodge!

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