Hanky Panky

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In sixth grade I found myself on a bus traveling toward the most awful week of my life. The bus was, of course, disguised for the parents as a yellow school bus that was en-route to a winter outdoor education camp in the snow covered mountains. The enlightened kids saw it for what it really was, a week of bullying, bad food, strange excursions and a painful square dance where 3/4 the boys would balk at asking one of us girls to dance. Especially the fat tall girls. Which was basically me.

For whatever reason, however, I was optimistic. It wasn't because I was going up there with hoards of friends, or that my new snow jacket made me look like I had bosoms, or even the fact that I particularly loved the outdoors. In fact I was going up there friendless, in a blindingly bright shapeless 80's snow parka hand-me-down, and hiking wasn't really my thing.

BUT- my bag was full of Bonnebell chapstick, candy and various other miniature toiletries that were uncommon in the Tanner household- bribing me into undergoing one of the most awkward weeks of my life.

Fast forward to the first morning we woke up at the camp. We are interrupted from frigid icy sleep by the drill sergeant bark of a woman telling us we must take a shower before breakfast. Dutifully I searched through my duffle bag only to find that with all the items in my bag, I was missing a key staple. A towel.




"Excuse me" I told Ms. Granola as my turn was nearing, "Um, somehow I forgot my towel. Is there one here that I can use?"
"You were told to bring one on the list." She barked amid a shower of oatmeal spewing from her mouth. Obviously we were having oatmeal for breakfast this morning.
"I know." I tried to explain, "But somehow it didn't make it into my bag. Is there one I can borrow?"
"I don't know anything about that." She curtly answered, blowing the 2 minute whistle on the poor girl who had just gotten warm in the shower. "Next!"
"Well can I skip the shower today until I find a towel?" I asked hopefully. Searching her face for any sign of kindness.
Her eyes narrowed as she looked me over, distaste washing over her face. A chunky kid was disgusting enough, but one with imagined bad hygiene and a penchant for skipping showers was too much for her. "Everyone has to take a shower everyday. You are no exception." Her finger wagged and pointed into my face. "Let me find one for you. Next!"

In two minutes she was back and holding out the item that was to be used as a "towel."

I wanted to ask her if her nose was running, because what she was holding up was not possibly a towel. In her hand hung a hanky, a terry cloth hanky, something that would not have wrapped around a normal 80 pound sixth grader, let alone one that was 3 times the thickness of your typical 11 year old.

The towel was not as big as a hand towel, slightly larger than a face clothe and amusingly was supposed to cover me as I walked to my duffle bag and changed community locker room style in the cabin. If it hadn't been for the strict 2 minute time limit I could have changed into some clothes before I left the shower, but there was no time to change behind the curtain.

I looked at her in horror. Could she possibly be suggesting that the girl with the premature junk her her trunk wrap that tiny morsel of cloth around her body in a manner that would condemn her for merciless teasing the remaining 3 years of middle school? If it was now, I would have said, "I don't think so. Not today you crazy nudist." But at that point I took the towel and considered just how I would make my shuffle back to my bunk in anonymity.

I considered the option of using the towel to cover my face so no one would know it was me streaking across the floor. Maybe they would think it was the ghost of an insane former counselor who went crazy from the undercooked eggs and soggy toast we were to be inflicted with over the coming week. I finally settled on wrapping the towel around my waist, so only one large strip on the side of my leg was showing, my free arm covering whatever else I could.

Have you ever tried to cover yourself up with your arm and a hanky? It's difficult. Very difficult. I felt like Eve with the fig leaf. "I'm pretty sure he meant Banana leaves" I could imagine her saying. "Banana leaves make more sense. Who would cover themselves with a fig leaf (besides of course a dozen hopefuls on America's Next Top Model)? Yeah, lets go with the banana leaves. What do you mean they are all the way in South America?"

I proceeded to shuffle, the towel grasped in an iron grip as though I was holding on to the last bit of decency I had left. I dared anyone to look at me, to make eye contact in which I would fix them with an icy stare as cold as the room I was now parting the crowd like Moses through. "Make way," I wanted to shout, "Haven't you seen a fat kid in a tea cozy before?"

Thankfully the counselor had a little mercy, or an angel came down and told her she would be smitten with the pox if she didn't scavenger up a towel for the porky girl who just passed through the rings of hell and back because the next morning I had a towel of respectable size.

You can guarantee yourself that I have never forgotten a towel since. One indecent amount of exposure was enough for me to learn my lesson and garner a great embarrassing story as well. Seems like these things seem to happy to me waaay too often...


Katherine said...

Oh man! Sixth grade was such an awkward time. What were they thinking busing us all up to the mountains at age 12. No way were we ready for that kind of social intensity. This brought back so many memories for me!!

You are the best story teller. I love reading your stories!

julie said...

When I went I was the opposite. I looked like a praying mantis. And I had a spacer on the roof of my mouth that all my food got under. To get it out I had to make disgusting sounds and weird faces. Imagine how many boys asked me to dance at the four square dance.


Grant and Taryn Layton said...

You are an amazing story teller...and the best part are that they are true :) You crack me up! And..6th grade camp was NOT cool...and I didn't even have a towel incident!

Julia Holmes said...

Holly you crack me up!!! You tell stories so well. The really funny thing is that I was there with you. Remember? We were in the same cabin and everything. I still have all of the pictures from Outdoor Education, that's what is was called right? I don't remember that towel thing happening though. I am so sorry. That is too funny. The thing I remember most about that camp is how much I like the english muffins there, and the snow :)

hopelesslyharen said...

Banana leaves...totally! You are awesome...

Whitney said...

Ohhh the memories. I threw up in front of everyone at Outdoor Ed. We were in line waiting for dinner and I had altitude sickness, it was so embarassing. 6th Grade camp really is a cruel thing to do to already socially awkward children. I feel your pain!

Scott and Megan said...

Holly- your story brought back some embarrassing moments of my own. Don't ask me to explain why I have pictures of myself in purple stirrup pants that I pulled all the way up over my shoulders at my 6th grade camp. What ever posessed me to think this was funny, I'll never know. We would have been fast friends I'm sure. Why don't boys have embarrassing things happen?

Tasha said...

Why do such horrible things happen . . . and what on earth was that counselor thinking!!?!! I sure do love hearing you tell a story though. 6th Grade was definatly a VERY awkward time for me. Hmm, makes me think of my week at camp too. Awkward. Yep, that comes to mind with me too.

Angee said...

I felt that way everyday 6-9th We had to shower to a whistle in the locker room. Our showers were on one pole with like 8 heads squirting. The issue towels I swear were hand towels. It was awful. But your stories are the best.

Robyn said...

That counselor was evil, but hahahaa the story is funny.

Perley Family said...

Oh Holly, I so feel for you! That is a funny story. At least you can look back and laugh now. Oh the joys of 6th grade camp. I remember the freezing 2 minute showers and the awkward square dance too. In all of my pictures I look like an 8 year old boy. The only good I got from going were learning the lame camp songs that I will sometimes still sing to my kids.

Kelly said...

I too had my horror at sixth grade camp. Some idiot perv in my class told everyone he had seen me in the shower, even though we were there only TWO DAYS AND I NEVER TOOK A SHOWER. I never felt so violated in all my days before or since. The only thing that gives me a bit of a smile is remembering how his dad yelled at him and pulled him out of the room by his ear when I ratted him out!

The Wilsons said...

Sometime I wonder how I made it out of junior high. Although awful at the time, these make for great stories later, and turn us into the person we are today! Take care

Robyn said...

Holly, the link is the word here on my post, then halfway down the post it links to that kind of explains it--it's www.moneysavingmethods.blogspot.com and on the left side, click on "online offers" It tells all of the details on how to do it properly so you get paid!!

Jen Scott said...

You are so funny!