Apprentice
Bend It Like Donald

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Lesson Eight: The Level Of Our Incompetence

Sitting on a stool, on a stage, holding this mask up with my right hand, as the three guys from my bunk are flitting around in a circle, like, flirting with me? Like the girls in that one scene in Almost Famous. Singing in harmony about how they want to kiss the sweet little pussycat lips. Singing this Chipmunks cover of a Tom Jones song, two layers of weirdness all by itself. To me. While I'm doing my best version of "coy," okay, and the speakers aren't working that well, right, so way back in the crowd of the entire camp, you can't even hear the song. Just this dull roar and high squeaky voices, and the boys of Bunk Oblivion dancing around me, in a chipmunk and pussycat masks, for around three, maybe four minutes. And me trying to preserve my ladylike pussycat virtue, like, No, boys, Chipmunks, I simply cannot, for I am a lady! Don't make me call for Dave! Doing my best job, as one must always try to do -- like honestly applying myself to this character, her emotions and motivation and what's standing in the way of her getting what she wants, et cetera -- even when the assignment is deranged to a scarring degree. Like recapping this show.

But so I remember thinking, "This is fucked. They can't even hear the song. This has gotta look like the original Wicker Man. This is like the inside of Dewey's head from Malcolm In The Middle. This looks like we're all going crazy at the same time without warning. We look like a coven of witches in the shape of anthropomorphic chipmunks. I am so going to have something to talk about with my therapist when I get home." And eventually the counselor of the next bunk over, wonderful Kevin from Maine, with the ponytail, just told us to stop, that it was over, that we could go do whatever we wanted, because we'd earned it. And then they fixed the mic, and Kevin's bunk (which included a personage about whom my feelings were both intense and unspeakable, and a single detail about whom I cannot remember today, beyond a feeling of heart-wracking romance and the woodsy smell of nature or whatever) did a lip-synch of "Love Bites" by Def Leppard -- Kevin's favorite band, my favorite band all summer and one for whom I still feel a great deal of affection -- that was like the coolest thing I'd ever seen, and they totally won, and they totally deserved it too.

First of all, I have never told a living soul that story, because it's too weird. How did that get invented, much less approved? So many bad decisions led to that occurrence. And what the fuck was I doing? What was so bizarre about me as a kid, independent of this thing implicating me, that I lent myself to this venture? Happily and unquestioningly? With my own input and goals for the performance? And second of all: it's so close to the twenty-some years that followed, in terms of the situations that I've ended up in and how I got there, that it's scary. You had your gay experience at summer camp? Ha. I wish: I had the gayest experience ever at summer camp. Just not the good kind.

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Apprentice

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