Embarrassment levels 1, 2, and 3
Let’s journey back to all of our favourite time, Middle School. Tweenaged Audrey has decided that this summer, the summer after seventh grade, will be a summer to remember. She and her cousin, Katy, are spending two weeks at Frost Valley in New York, home to hipsters from all over, but mostly the Upper West Side of Manhattan and the gentrified parts of Brooklyn. These two weeks are filled with a life time of memories, but let’s stick to the top three.
3. Embarrassment level 1
Katy and I and a friend of ours were the first ones to sit at our table for lunch. We weren’t just the first campers from our Village, but also the first campers from any Village. We were sitting without plates and our cups beside us, waiting for our counselors and other campers to join us, talking about something that I don’t recall, when one of the heads of the camp walked over. He made no introduction, saying neither hello nor asking about our days. He just shouted “AXE KICK!” and promptly raised his leg straight in the air, bringing it down like an axe on the table, and walked away as if nothing had happened.
Katy and I and our friend, who I will call Zara, looked at each other, as if to confirm that we had all just witnessed the same thing.
“Did he say ‘Axe Kick’?” Zara asked.
“I think he did,” Katy replied.
After more conversation between the three of us, one recommended that we return that favour. With their affirmation, I declared that I would do it, if they would come with me.
“Of course,” they readily agreed.
“We should wait until everyone’s here,” one of us recommended.
“Do I just walk up and axe kick the table?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Zara confirmed.
So, with a dining hall newly filled with all the counselors and campers at Frost Valley, the three of us walked over to the leader’s table, with other camp leaders. We stood at his table quietly for a moment, all the leaders looking at us expectantly. Zara pushed back the empty plates and cups at the end of the table.
I lifted my leg,axe kicked the table, and fled back to our table.
“What just happened?” our counselor asked us.
“He did it first!”
2. Embarrassment level 2
At Frost Valley there is a floating rock climbing wall in the lake called The Ice Berg. Only six people are allowed to be in The Ice Berg area at the time, so you need to get lucky to sign up to get a spot. You and your partner for the day pick a life jacket and swim out to The Ice Berg. Only one person should really be climbing at a time, but that’s more of a preference than a necessity. With six people waiting to climb, there are usually more like two people on The Ice Berg at once. Obviously that I’m including this information implies that at least once I had the opportunity to climb this floating beast. So here’s what happened.
Katy and I, Ben and his partner, and two girls we did not know were all signed in to The Ice Berg one day. I’m not sure why I remember Ben’s name, because we’re not friends, but I do so I’m going to include it. I do not remember the names of his partner or the other two girls, but I’m going to call his partner Steve and the girls Maria and Lulu, because, why not?
So we were all climbing and sliding off the top, into the water, and having a normal, safe time. Katy and I were floating in the water when the first incident of the day occurred. Lulu was climbing ahead, Ben below her. His right arm was essentially between where her feet were resting, and his left arm was on a separate right when she slipped, turning 180 degrees and dropping a few feet so that Ben was essentially holding her up by her inner thigh. They hung like that for a few minutes, attached to the side of The Ice Berg, her crotch uncomfortably close to his face. No one knew what to do. We just kind of watched and waited. After what felt like forever, Ben removed his arm, allowing Lulu to fall off The Ice Berg, returning to the water from which she came. Thoroughly disconcerted, Lulu and Maria swam back to shore to return their life jackets. Though flustered, Ben continued up The Ice Berg, slid back into the water, and continued on just as before. And then there were four.
We climbed and swam and talked to our respective partners, Katy and I, and Ben and Steve. Let me give you some background about The Ice Berg. It has a long, though not wide, blue inflatable at the bottom on the climbing base. All along the climbing walls are plastic handles attached to the plastic inflatable by a thin, but coarse, cloth, and at the very top there is a handle to help you get up before sliding down. So I was basically at the top, well very near to the top but not quite near enough to the top, when I decided to pull myself up by the handle at the top. I had done a bit of gymnastics when I was little, so I wasn’t unaccustomed to the idea of pulling up my body by my hands. You see, the difference between gymnastics and an inflatable rock climbing wall is that in gymnastics, the bar is supposed to support all of your weight.
I closed my eyes and braced myself as I slid down the side of The Ice Berg, feeling myself bump along the plastic handles until quickly being submerged in the cold water. I laughed, none the worse, and swam over to my cousin. I noticed Ben and Steve swimming away, almost to the dock by the time I reached Katy.
“Why are they leaving?” I asked her.
I still think my cousin describes it best when she said that she just saw a body fall, knocking Ben, who unbeknownst to me was climbing below me, clean off.
“He was traumatized.”
Last time I went to the top of The Ice Berg, which was a few years later, the handle was still broken. So if you ever find yourself on The Ice Berg at Frost Valley and you are trying to climb to the very top but find there’s no support to get you there because the handle is broken, you’re welcome.
1. Embarrassment level 3
It was a Sunday. I know this because on Sundays we had brunch and at brunch we had on vat of oatmeal and one vat of soup, and I remember considering both options. Well, I didn’t like vegetable soup, so I didn’t want any of that, but the oatmeal container was almost empty. Hmm. I took a bowl from below the vats and held it to the side of the oatmeal container, and so over the vegetable soup, and if you know where this is going than you are wiser than I was.
I held my bowl over the vat of vegetable soup and scooped what I could of the oatmeal from the container. I shook the ladle, attempting to get the little oatmeal I could find, out of it and into my bowl. I shook the ladle vigorously, really just wanting to get anything to fall out of the ladle and into the bowl. I shook it so vigorously that it hit the side of the bowl, knocking the oatmeal from the ladle into the bowl, and the bowl from my hand and into the vat of vegetable soup. And after a lifetime of believing that in a fight or flight situation I would fight, I bolted back to my table, hiding my face in my hands.
“What happened?” Katy asked me.
“I dropped a bowl of oatmeal in the soup,” I told her.
“I dropped a bowl of oatmeal into the soup.”
And so I told her.
And we decided to tell my counselor, who had always found our endeavors funny.
“She dropped a bowl of oatmeal into the soup.”
We turned to look at the oatmeal and vegetable soup station to a see a guy we knew, who was in the US for his first time, visiting from Barcelona. He had a ladle deep in the vegetable soup vat, and as he raised it we saw a soup come up with it, filled with vegetable soup. And my counselor began applauding. And the rest of the campers at the table followed. So this boy, who was on his first trip to the United States turned, holding a ladle filled with a bowl filled with soup, to see a table of 12 year olds staring at him and applauding, returned the ladle filled with the bowl filled with the soup to the vegetable soup container.
For sticking with me this long, you’ve earned a photo of me looking like an Italian boy, taken the previous summer. You’re welcome.