The Dark Side of the Cookie
Earlier this year I posted a very wholesome and feel-good piece about the Girl Scouts — here's what I didn't include in that "love letter"...
**DISCLAIMER: Just to be absolutely clear, the events I describe are my own actions and some bizarre and unusual things I witnessed and experienced as a camp attendee. Kids and groups of people sometimes do stupid shit; none of this has anything to do with the Girl Scouts! I still LOVE the Girl Scouts — it's not them, it's me.**
To recap: I was an independent Girl Scout, purely for the purpose of receiving a discount at sleepaway summer camp; I LOVED sleepaway summer camp. I attended every year, for multiple multi-week sessions from the age of about 11 to 17. That said, I had so many opportunities over that time to act poorly and so I did.
If I had to characterize grown-up-Brianne, I would say she is often preoccupied with sex, quite skilled in the art of coercion, strangely fascinated by physical combat, has a defiant streak a mile wide and a long, complicated relationship with substance abuse. Let's take a look at how the questionable actions and experiences of childhood-camp-Brianne relate to grown-up-Brianne:
THEN: I was staying in the Mountaineer unit for the first time — maybe for a survivalist program? Can't remember but it's not important. This was in the middle-early part of my camp years so I was probably 12, maybe 13. There were tents, not cabins, and even more special, they were some type of geodesic tents — not the standard platform tents like in other units. They were circular-ish and so maybe that had some influence on the spirit of life inside the tents? The point is that one night when each of us was snuggled into our own cots and sleeping bags but were all still wide awake and talking, the conversation meandered towards sex or our bodies or something, standard stuff for that age no biggie... Anyway, next thing I know, I'm leading the other campers in a tent-wide guided masturbation exercise. All of this was in the dark by the way! I'm not quite sure how it all came about but I do remember feeling especially safe and open with that particular group and so I shared what I did and then told them how I did it and then we were all doing it. Or so I believe — like I said, this was all in the dark so maybe I was the only one touching myself.
NOW: Unsurprisingly, I still masturbate, frequently I might add. I enjoy having sex with others a whole lot and I derive a great deal of pleasure from it, as I believe we all should. I also love discussing it and I have no qualms about talking to a friend in extreme detail about any part of sex while walking down a busy street or having brunch at a respectable restaurant. Sex is a universal and human experience and I refuse to have any shame or guilt about it.
THEN: I was a junior CIT (Counselor in Training), it was a three-week long session and we challenged ourselves with a goal of 13 badges, at least I think that's how many — whatever the number was it was at least one more than any other group. We were badasses and clearly very competitive. Along with our ambitious badge-earning plans, we also decided to have a 72-hour experience — the "experience" is staying awake for 72 hours. Most "experiences" were 24 or 48 hours so we were really pushing the limits. As with every activity in a camp session, the experience had to be planned in advance, detailing every single activity for every single hour. Somewhere in between day 2 and 3 of being awake, we found ourselves in the Art and Crafts cabin at say 3am? We were in there a long time and for whatever reason we began wrestling matches. Keep in mind the counselors charged with chaperoning us have also been awake for more than 2 days — I say this because they were participating! And it was fantastic! Also I was dominating the matchups so please note that. So anyway, after I kicked everyone's ass at wrestling, it was decided we would move on to boxing. As in, bare-fisted boxing. Everyone was all hopped up on the sugary trail mix we'd been gorging ourselves on and unanimously thought this was a great idea. Especially me, still high off my wrestling victories! Well it turns out I fucking suck at boxing because not 10 seconds in I get clocked right in the face, my nose spraying blood everywhere. It wasn't broken but my dignity sure was. It was then and there I learned some humility about my combat skills and how mentally taxing it is to think about attacking at the same time I was thinking about defending. We moved on to line dancing after my nose stopped bleeding.
NOW: For years I hosted Festivus parties. And when I say "Festivus" yes I mean "Festivus" as in the holiday so described in an episode of Seinfeld. Also I would absolutely still be hosting Festivus parties if I didn't live in a co-op where they would not look kindly upon either the noise or ruckus and/or possible building damage. Which brings me to the presence and function of combat in grown-up Brianne's life — you see the whole point of these parties was to make my friends wrestle, and in turn I got to wrestle which, as we've already covered, I am amazing at. Every guest was required to participate and I would randomly pair up the matches by pulling their names out of a hat once I felt everyone was sufficiently inebriated. The matches were usually held in my living room, but over the years they've happened in basements, the wood floor in front of my kitchen stove and one epic year at a private karaoke club run by a biker gang in Bushwick. The only rules were those of standard Greco-Roman wrestling as seen in schools and the Olympics: no biting, punching, kicking, etc... and the fight only ends when someone has both shoulders pinned for three seconds. Sidenote: grown-up Brianne dreams of participating in a real-life fight club as she has learned over the years that not having the annual cathartic release of Festivus causes some rage issues.
THEN: During the same junior CIT session where I got punched in the face, my fellow junior Counselors in Training and I engaged in a series of pranks, the best one being the theft of a beloved camp game prop which we then held for ransom. Our ransom note was classic — constructed of cut magazine letters and demanded a hefty sum of Girl Scout cookies. Sadly we did not get the cookies because the staff didn't want to set a precedent. We later broke into the mess hall and put all the cups and plates on a ledge above the lights, about 7 feet off the floor.
NOW: Grown-up Brianne has never been convicted of a crime nor arrested for any infraction. However, this is not to say there have not been criminal acts over the years which is all I'm going to say on this topic as I have matured and prefer to maintain my freedom and clean record.
THEN: OK so there were a couple of things — the first was early on in my camp days when I managed to get the other girls in my cabin to cut and snort lines of Pixy Stix. At this point I had not yet done cocaine but somehow knew exactly what to do and guided everyone in the process, even encouraging them to embrace the nasal burn. And second, as a full-fledged CIT (no longer junior) I got busted for smoking outside late at night and got put on probation and had to be accompanied by staff everywhere I went. I lost all of the other privileges afforded to Counselors in Training — namely, staff lounge access, phone calls and personal free time.
NOW: Having gotten sober in July 2012 I am now in my 7th year of recovery. I left behind a 21-year history of drinking and drugging that wrought havoc on grown-up Brianne's life. Near the end I almost lost my job (that same job I just quit!), almost burned down an apartment after passing out with popcorn on the stove, got raped, lost a number of personal effects and worst of all, my self-respect and dignity. Now I put the effort and time I used to spend scoring and getting blitzed towards working a program and trying to do the next right thing.
So there's my story — I guess in the end all of those darker things were for the best. I wouldn't change a thing about my combat-sex-crime-and-illicit substance-loving-self. At the very least I'll never be boring.