It’s funny, because when I used to talk about my aunt owning a fat camp (a weight loss summer camp for kids) and having worked there, people never believed it. It sounded crazy and I was constantly accused of making it up until I actually brought people there. I was in good shape and used to go to the gym every day, so I guess it was a stretch. But now, whenever I talk about the camp, people believe every word because they look at me (I have probably doubled in size since those days) and nod with that look that says “Of course you were at a fat camp and by the way, you really need to go back. There are many many many Fat Camp stories, most are entirely inappropriate for anyone’s gentle ears – but let’s start with this one:
My friend Weezie (Now talk about a Hooka with a capital “H” and I say that as a very high compliment) used to come to the camp with me all the time (and she actually worked there with me one summer – to almost criminal results) because I lived there and for her it was the half-way point while driving home from college. Our routine was simple, stop and drop our bags, get the crew together, go to Cronin’s, tear it up and stay there until we closed the place and were about to pass out, beg someone to take us to the only place open late night out there in the middle of nowhere, the famous Quickway Diner, engorged ourselves, and then she’d drive home the next day.
My brother Angelo thought it would be a great idea to have a family reunion one weekend and get the whole family together at the Fat Camp but I could smell something brewing from the onset. He was so worried about who would fight with each other that it was only a matter of time before trouble dropped by. With my family coming en masse, I needed reinforcements and invited Weezie and a couple of her sorority sisters to come and visit me. Of course, I “forgot” to tell them there was a reunion going on until they got there but they were real troopers.
My brother Anthony arrived late and the gates were closed and locked. The gates were closed and locked because when I say he arrived late, I mean hours and hours and hours late. Now upon coming up to a locked gate, a normal person would have just left his pickup truck (which was oddly reminiscent of the one Lamont used to drive on Sanford and Son) outside the gate until morning since the camp is located on a side street right in the middle of absolutely nowhere. I mean, there was no worry of vandalism – unless a local deer wanted his stereo or Metallica cassettes – but no, he had to get in that gate. The gate in question is a ten-foot high wooden stockade fence around the whole camp (over 200 acres) with the only openings in it being one small part by the main entrance he was trying to enter through.
So instead of driving up the road a little bit to go into the entrance by the house we lived in where there is no gate, Anthony did the logical thing and proceeded to try and drive around the main gate through the little opening to get in. His truck was about ten feet wide and the path he was trying to drive on to get around the fence was about three feet wide, so of course his truck ended up going front first down the incline and into the ravine on the side of the gate. Not a steep ravine, but there is a small stream flowing gently there.
Now, Anthony was not one to believe that this could, in any way, be his fault, so he proceeded to start screaming and cursing and went to find the person he held responsible for this – whoever locked the gate. Needless to say that when the female police officer showed up and told Anthony that he had five minutes to move the truck after he called her sir (once again, not his fault) my Uncle Raymond immediately took charge and instructed all of the overweight female cousins with a “little back” to them to get into the bed of the pickup truck to weigh it down and then they could put it into reverse…needless to say, he’s not one to take no for an answer so he pulled out the big guns (and by big guns I mean my cousins) and those girls got the truck out of the ravine. Who needs AAA or a tow truck? Also, just a word of advice; if you ever have a big stash of weed in the glove compartment of your truck that you just drove into a ravine and a female police officer shows up – Don’t call her sir!
When my sister Marlene used to work at the fat camp, she used to date this guy Dan that lived around the corner from the camp. He and I were good friends and when he heard that Marlene was coming to the reunion he, of course, thought she might be coming to see him. I explained that she was dating a new guy(who was a muscle head with no neck and was about as smart as a can of turpentine, but I digress) and bringing him to the reunion, but he came over anyway in case she wanted to see him.
So, to give you a visual about the layout of the camp, it’s set on over 200 acres with a huge lake in the center of the property, and there are golf carts to get you everywhere because of how spread out everything is. The swimming pool is up by the house we lived in, the lake is in the center of the camp, and the main buildings and bunks are down by the main entrance.
So, as the day went on, I was drinking at the pool with Dan, Weezie and her two sorority sisters, and Anthony – my pickup driving brother. The more Dan drank, the more convinced he was that my sister was actually attending the reunion to see him. I say that he was convinced because Anthony was convincing him. In his infinite widsom, my brother thought the best thing to do in this situation was to give Dan a joint to settle him down and keep him drinking. This probably would have worked if my brother didn’t start peppering him with his take on the “situation” and keep offering up his advice. Keep in mind that this is the same man who drove his truck into a ravine less than 24 hours earlier and now he is giving love advice to Dan about how messed up it was that my sister was here on his “turf” with a new guy and that it wasn’t right. He thought Dan should go down to the bunks where everybody was and speak with my sister to settle this. I thought that he should go home before he got himself killed by No-neck, and with that we (me, Weezie, and her sorority sisters) went down to the bunks because I thought I should let Marlene know that Dan was there and already drunk.
During the camp season, the golf carts didn’t go any faster than a senior citizen at Ponderosa, but the maintenance guy rigged them up so we could really move in them during the off-season so we drove down by where everyone else was in a flash.
So picture this: I’m standing in a circle next to the golf cart that we just drove down there with my sister, Weezie and the two girls, and my cousin Beverly talking about Dan and around us there are about forty-five people milling about. Some were playing cards, some were sitting at picnic tables talking, some were playing lawn darts, but all in all everyone was just hanging out. All of a sudden up by the infirmary hill we see my brother and Dan (who at this point was absolutely wasted) and Dan is staggering towards us blowing kisses to No-neck, my sister’s new boyfriend.
In a literal flash: Dan is blowing kisses at No-neck, No-neck goes running and screaming up the infirmary hill after Dan, Dan goes running toward the back fence leading to the cemetary next door to the camp, Everyone abandons what they’re doing to watch this new drama unfold, my brother Anthony lights another joint as he’s watching the show from the infirmary hill, and then all of a sudden my sister jumps into my golf cart and takes off up the hill to stop No-Neck from killing Dan.
I tried to get into the golf cart too, but I was in flip-flops and she was just too damn fast. I fell because I was trying to enter the golf cart as she was speeding away and I lost my footing. I thought for sure that since I was her brother and we were close and SHE JUST SAW ME FALL, that perhaps she would stop the golf cart to let me get on – but I was wrong. As I lost my balance and fell, I grabbed onto the sideboard of the golf cart to avoid hitting my face and getting my head ran over by the tire and then she took off like a tornado. She just didn’t stop. In a split-second, I went from trying to be a good person and avoid a situation, to literally being dragged up a steep hill by an out of control golf cart piloted by a madwoman.
She flew through dirt, grass, mud and didn’t miss one bump. She was leaving a cloud of dust and I was a mess. I was screaming for bloody murder and begging for some help and I was afraid to let go because I knew that she would most certainly run my body over. I mean she had no problem dragging me up a hill so running me over wouldn’t stop her either. I finally lost my grip and was thrown after about two hundred feet up the hill because she slowed down for a split second when my dislodged flip-flop was thrown from my mangled foot and flew over her head and distracted her. That crazy bitch didn’t flutter or even turn around to see if I was still in one piece as she took off up the hill leaving me a mangled heap in the dirt.
As I tried to stand up and regain my composure (for I knew the dignity was lost fifty feet ago) I turned to face my family and, of course, my three friends from college. As I stumbled back over to them, my cousin Beverly goes “Oh God, she’s so upset, I just can’t believe it – I hope she’s O.K.” to which I responded – “Fuck her – that crazy bitch just dragged me up a fucking hill and almost killed me – literally…almost killed me! What about me?” It was like when Alexis shot her rifle to spook Krystle’s horse and it took off dragging her across the field and caused her to lose her baby in Season Two of Dynasty. (Of course, a Dynasty reference to help those of you who weren’t raised right – Yes I’m talking to you Bemish!)
For a quick second, I thought Weezie was crying but then I realized it was laughter (they were all laughing hysterically) and she helped me find my other flip-flop and when she regained her composure she said “I want you to know that every time you tell me one of your crazy stories I always thought – come on, who do these things happen to? After seeing that just now, I can picture every single one of them – that was unbelievable. I will never doubt you again and I am going to tell this story to everyone we know.”
As for Dan, because he lived around the corner and knew the area, he made it over the cemetery fence and safely home, eluding No-neck. As for my sister, her official “story” (which to this day I still don’t believe a word of) about the golf cart is that she didn’t hear me screaming bloody murder or see me until the flip-flop flew into her frame of view. As for me, it took three showers to feel clean again and then we went straight to Cronin’s where I drank until I couldn’t taste that dirt in my mouth anymore.
Moral of the story and the lesson I learned – Family reunions are not for me! Interestingly enough, that happened in 1999 and we haven’t actually had another reunion since! Or if they are having them- they’re just not inviting us which I truly cannot blame them for…