I walk slowly. My legs are short-ish, but I don’t make up for the difference with a quick pace or longer stride, I just remain in the back of the pack. It is an affliction that I grew up with. I was always in the back of the line, dragging everyone else down. But why, I ask everyone in first grade, are we in such a rush? We have no homework, no job, no rent and no responsibilities. But they wanted us to walk, and they wanted us to walk fast.
I joined a summer camp the year before first grade, and some of my earliest memories are of that summer. Unfortunately they are not my fondest memories. The sun beating down on the baseball field, while I had to run around and try to catch up with the more athletic first graders, it wasn’t easy. I’m relatively short now, but I was really small back then, and not up to the physical demands of summer camp. Most likely, I was in the back of the line, sludging along as fast as my tired legs could take me. The issue is, my counselors were pressured to speed us to different activities, and they were not impressed with my walking speed. It got so bad that at one point my counselor threatened me by saying, “If you don’t walk faster, I will cut your penis off.” Now I know that he was making a simple joke, but that is a bit harsh for a 16 year old to threaten a 5 year old with. Even worse, that guy is probably in his 30s now, and he is unphased by the trauma that he gave one of his campers in 2006.
But that wasn’t the end of the trouble at summer camp. I was with an “acquaintance” and we had to go to the bathroom. This is an issue for 5 year old’s because they like to experiment with the limits of the social order. My acquaintance will be named Bob in this article. Bob decided that instead of going to the toilet, we should pee on each other. I disagreed with this idea, saying, “I don’t think that’s really the best idea.” Even still, Bob decided to pee on me anyway. Before I knew it, I was soaked in urine. The worst part is that we both got in trouble. After weeks of intense trial, they dropped the charges against me and declared me innocent, since obviously I did not pee on anyone. However, I am not mad at Bob, he sent me a very nice apology card. We have drifted apart over the years, but I hope he is doing well and is not peeing on anyone.
The third and worst thing that happened to me this summer was a little thing called salmonella poisoning. Yes, I am a survivor. And it got me in the most unlikely way, Pirate Booty cheese puffs. If you purchased them recently from the Marketplace and are worried about your health, worry not, because I still eat them and they are delicious. But they did once have a salmonella outbreak, and you are hearing from the first documented case in Illinois. This event is one of my earliest memories, and it was not pleasant.
That was my summer. I still walk slowly, and I still don’t pee on people. I didn’t return to the camp the next year, but I did return a few years ago as a counselor. Since I still was a slow walker, I was always in the back of the line with the other slow walkers, and they walked really slow. Like just barely stepping and paying no attention to their surroundings. So I told them, “If you don’t walk faster I will cut your penis off,” and that got them moving.