(I wrote this last year but since I don’t have time to write anything new right now I thought I’d post it again in honor of the 40th anniv.)
In July 1969 I was ten years old. It was my second time at Girl Scout camp.
The first time I was too young. The camping wasn’t completely rustic, with cots on a wooden platform under a large tent, four girls to a tent. But I was only seven then and terrified of the outdoor latrines. So scared that one rainy night when I had to pee I weighed the options and wet the bed. Sleeping in a urine-soaked sleeping bag for a night or two was preferable to walking the dark path to a wooden outhouse where all kinds of insects might be lurking. It didn’t matter what the other girls thought, because I was too shy to talk to anybody anyway. Besides, once I went home at the end of the week, I’d never see them again.
Three years later I had more confidence and could deal with certain aspects of nature much better. Plus there was a lot to talk about with my tentmates, three girls from other towns in western Pennsylvania. The fact that we were strangers and would go back to our regular friends after sleeping in the same tent for two weeks made it that much easier to freely discuss all sorts of things. Like, which Monkee was the cutest? Had you ever looked at Playboy magazine? Did you have a boyfriend?
Shelley was the oldest in the tent. She must have been eleven. She said she knew Bobby Sherman personally and that she’d french-kissed a boy. We waited for her to elaborate.
She showed us how she’d turned her head sideways and, illustrating by holding her fist up like another mouth, how the boy had done the same. I held my breath thinking about it, wondering if that’s how babies were made. Somebody said they’d heard that if your mouths were open wide enough some kind of seed could travel from one person to another and that’s how you got pregnant.
A counselor came running up the hill and poked her head in through the tent flaps to tell us they were showing the moonwalk on TV. We all hurried down to the rec center to watch on an old black and white set.
That done, we walked back to our tent to get ready for bed. Seeing a man bounce around on the surface of the moon had been pretty incredible. But mostly I kept thinking about french kissing, and that part about the seed.