August 27, 2002

Work for the Sake of Work

The ever-brilliant Steven DenBeste shows that I am not all alone in my middle-class-white-boy-college-student pain.

I spent my first two years at UMD in the School of Fine Arts. I earned the Bernstein-Krenzen jazz scholarship because I whooped major ass on my saxophone, which gave me a total of $1,500 over those two years. I also received a merit-based scholarship because I graduated with eXXtreme honors from Hopkins High School and got a 32 on my ACTs. I believe it fed me another $3,000 during those two years.

Last year I changed to the College of Liberal Arts under my custom-made Fiction and Non-Fiction Writing major. All scholarships immediately evaporated, never mind that of my four previous semesters at UMD, four of them were spent on the Dean’s List. I pulled straight A’s in semesters five and six. My parents were kind enough to pay for my first two years, but now I am responsible for selling my stocks and continuing to finance my (currently) debt-free education. Hopefully UMD continues to jack tuition sixteen percent every year, as I’m sick of paying income tax on my dividends, which are given to me after already being taxed as profit at the corporate level. If I ain’t have no money, I pay none taxes, ahyuk! Ya’ll canna touch me!

Disgruntled by the lack of financial recognition for my efforts, I spent a few hours this summer scouring national scholarship books for any potential source of income. I want to move Cromlech out of the backwaters of the Internet this year, and UMD plans on charging me $500 for three college credits as I do so. Alas, I am not poor, I am not hispanic, I am not black, my parents are not steel workers and I am not a female pursuing broadcast journalism. There is nothing I can do but liquidate my accounts.

But after camp I have come to expect little or no support from the outside. As Steven said, the American way is working your fucking ass off. Sometimes you get a nice return, but other times (often at camp) you just continue to get crap for a real long time. Pile after pile of steaming crap, and you just gotta keep shoveling it, because you will not allow yourself not to. You are stronger than the pile of crap and you probably smell better. You will not succumb. You will defeat the crap.

Keep in mind that the crap will not sing a nice ditty for you when the task is completed, no. Any recognition for a job well done must come from within you. So long as you anticipate no outside support, any kind gesture comes as a wonderful surprise.

When life gives you shit, make shitonade. When you are asked to take a twelve-canoe rack from the Waterfront to Trips you get two other guys, stick two canoes under the rack’s feet, shove it into the lake and climb up into the rigging to weigh the rack down as they paddle upwind to the landing. You yell like a pirate and damage your throat further, cry ‘Land ho!’ and bring the structure ashore, tilt it to the side and remove the canoes, recruit another strong man for the Strong Man Achievement and the four of you haul it onto dry land. Then you pull fourteen canoes to the side (individually, as that quickens the process), move the rack into the empty space and stack watercraft on the ten-foot structure until finished.

Total elapsed time: Thirty minutes.

You take it all in stride, because hard work is fun and makes for excellent stories.

Swamp Boats, Drugs and Suck

Camp is done. After a long Thursday night of yelling at my kids on the Island, I awoke with an achy throat. This was no surprise, as supressing the chaos that results from little urchins hitting a 12-year-old bigfoot with a wooden sign puts a lot of strain on the voice box. My throat felt as though a bag lady was dragging her laquered nails around inside, and the waters in my brain rolled and boiled my thoughts while I slept. One night I tossed and turned as the e-boat flew around inside the cabin. Three days of fever dreams, restless sleep and exhausting work made for a wonderful Service Project Day. I helped pull five sailboats out of the swamp.

Back in civilization, my parents took concern and asked that I visit the doctor. I did. I signed in, sat down and dug into some some banal 9-11 commentary and other useless tripe in Esquire magazine. Twenty minutes later, I wondered when they would actually call me back into the nice little room with pictures of dolphins.

“Excuse me, but when are you going to call me back into the nice little room with pictures of dolphins?”

“Er Did you-oops. I guess we forgot to have you fill out your paperwork.”

After spelling my name right and casually flipping through kayaks in Outside magazine, I was invited back into the nice little room with pictures of dolphins. I told them I got a sore throat after yelling at kids. They said this was normal. I told them it was three days ago and my glands hurt and goodness I hope its not mono because I’ve already had mono and have you ever worked at a summer camp-

“It won’t be mono.”

Alright! Something new, something exciting! Now we spin the Wheel of Maladies and see what the micro-biological realm hath wrought! Culture my throat! Take my blood pressure! Bug out your eyes when you see how fit I am after hauling sailboats out of the swamp! Raugh!

“Yep, you’ve got strep throat. It’s very contagious; spread through tiny water droplets during speech. What are you doing the next couple days?”

“Infecting as many people as possible, of course. Have you read ‘The Stand’?”



I felt powerful roaming around Target waiting for my prescription to be filled. I was in the awkward purgatory between diagnosis and treatment, and I felt like a super-villian. YARG! I can channel the sickly fluids out of my body! I am the host! My touch is death (or mild discomfort)! I escaped my wagon quarantine to poison all you hapless folk! Fear my lack of beer!

Speaking of lack of beer… just a moment…

“Err, Killian’s!”

Killing time, I went shampoo shopping, which is a quest that always succeeds in cowing the manliest of men. I couldn’t decide what I wanted my hair to smell like: Mangos, jasmine, green tea, citrus, melon, rose hips, eleven herbs and spices… finally I settled on coconut. Coconut hair. Good old coconut, conjuring up images of endless sand beaches laced with broken beer bottles and bare feet (shoes are forbidden at Surf Camp, even though the bus drives you into town every night to buy booze), turquoise waters brimming with sharks, and a steady 30 mph tradewind you can set your chronometer to. Yes, yes. This man must be an expert windsurfer, just smell his hair!

I wandered back to the pharmacy, but the lady that barked at me for going to the wrong window, which was now, for me, the right window, had three people in line. Her make-up scared me so I chilled on over to some other beckoning trinkets. Lots of crap was on clearance, so I bought it. All. I transferred my bank account from a communist society, where money is in surplus but goods are in demand, into a capitalist society, where goods are in surplus but money is in demand. I bought the parking lot, which they’re rolling up and throwing on flatbed trucks as we speak. I’ve gotta pave some shit.

So I then returned to the pharmacy line, which now had five people that were all uglier than the ones that were previously in line. I decided to wait it out, as there were exciting things to look at, like the hot store-bought tan mom that was trying desperately to cling to her youth. She looked sad. So did the non-prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solutions waiting next to the pharmacy line. No one cared about them because they were so boring. Why put such boring products in a place where people are bound to be waiting? Come on, I wanna look at some C02 lasers and other cool shit when I’m waiting to get my RU-486.

Ten minutes later I was next; to be serviced by the creepy make-up lady that made me want to cry or the old woman helping the other old woman who kept muttering inaudibly to herself for the entire five minutes I watched her. Which would it be! Spin the Wheel of Pharmaceutical Serviceability!

Old lady was the winner! I went to the counter, choked out my name, and then she searched alphabetically for my drugs… and searched… and searched… then went to the other place where they stored drugs… and searched… and searched… then went to the computer where they convert pure energy into matter in the molecular structure of drugs, and searched… then back. Then back again. Then back again. Then my address. Then back again. Ten minutes had now passed at the register. She recruited help. Another pharmacy employee came up to me.

“Are you being helped?”

“Just barely.”

“I’m sorry?”

I’m being helped, but just barely.”


“You people are incompetent at your job and do not deserve to work in close proximity to drugs.”

She did not appreciate my signature brand of criticism. Finally, after 15 minutes at the register, which followed 10 minutes in line, which followed 35 minutes in the store, my prescription manifested itself. I paid and left, muttering windsurfing curses under my breath.

Since I had amassed clearance crap in such amounts that could not be purchased at the right pharmacy window, I had to go to the main registers to leave the store without gaining a criminal record. I found a good line, got settled in, only to hear from the front:

“Your total is $170,” said the employee to the old man.

“How is that possible?” asked the old man. “I only have four of these.”

“Oh dear. Umm, well, I’m fucking incompetent as well, and I don’t deserve this job that pays more than $30 a day and doesn’t involve rinsing vomit out of trash cans,” said the employee.

She got on the phone and flipped on the register’s emergency flashers. I swore, more audibly than before, and went to the next line over. It was a nice line as well. The woman in front of me was buying picture frames and bedsheets. They now sell Tic Tacs packaged with Bic lighters, so you can commit arson with fresh breath. Her total was rung, the Mastercard was about to swipe…

“How would you like to save ten percent on your purchases today?” asked the employee.

“I would love to!!!” said the woman with frames and bedsheets. “I am ever so intrigued!!!!!! HOW CAN IT HAPPEN??!!”

The employee whipped out a credit card application. The woman squealed in glee. The ill little boy groaned every foul word he could conjure up. Five minutes of credit card application, authorization and administration passed. The woman left. I approached the register.

And paid. And left. And listened to Weezer in my wagon.

Total elapsed time: 3 hours.

August 18, 2002


Thirty-six hours later, the power comes back on. Thank you, SeXcel energy, for returning to me my electron soul. I had a fire in the fireplace, but only managed to open one flume so the house was quickly choked with smoke. The wisps looked like ghosts when my flashlight reflected off the hallway mirror through the chandelier. I wrote my PL’s by candlelight instead, then took a bunch of Benadryl and settled in for some sleepless dreams.

Now another storm brews on the horizon. Lightning strikes coupled with faulty wiring will probably set camp on fire, which will in turn get washed into the lake in a torrential downpour. My e-boat is probably lurking in The Armpit as we speak. Nevertheless, Skittles and Q-Bear must rule over Rocket cabin. We must use the $4.2 billion donation to bring Camp Ihduhapi into the space age. We are the Ihduhapi Air & Space Association.

“Waffles… it’s like you’re eating Tron.”

Don’t you hate it when you come to the party late, and you have no idea what’s going on and feel left out of the whole shindig?

Try writing that way.

August 5, 2002

Nerds + Weezer + Star Wars = Hopeless Crap

Another slow day, driving to Valleyfair with Ihduhapi staff (and Thomas)…

Sung to the chorus of Weezer’s Undone (the sweater song):

If you want to destroy the Orono Alliance,

Just build a Death Star, and blow them away (blow them away!)

Keep on firing, they’ll soon be wasted (lyin’ on the floor!)

Lyin’ on the floor! Their skin is melting!

Sung to the chorus of Weezer’s Say it Ain’t So:

Say it ain’t so,

My love is not my sister

Sung to the chorus of Weezer’s Surf Wax America

You take the plasma gun,

I’ll use the force,

And when you’re gone from Hoth,

I’m still a dork

August 1, 2002

Birth of Legends

Pirate Day here at camp, and t’is been a day of legends. Pirates invaded our camp through the waterfront (in a fine motorized craft with two canoe outriggers) and raised the Jolly Roger over the green waters of Lake Independence. I was among the roudy bunch, boasting a bandanna, a belt of rope and a powder blue suitcoat with the name “Enronbeard” on the back.

On a reconnaissance mission before lunch, five windsurfers (all staff members, mind you) dashed out into the lake to take advantage of some phat wind that was kickin’ it up hardcore. Only two windsurfers were able to fight back to the waterfront (as the wind had increased to a steady 30 mph), so we took to the squirrely e-boat to rescue the other windblown punks. The lake was solid whitecaps by the time we reached the first surfer (Mr. Shea), so to facilitate a quick return to camp we dismantled the rig; carrying the sail in the boat while towing the board.

It became evident that we did not have time to save each surfer separately, as the lake continued to increase its rage and thrash all small craft in its bosom. We picked up another surfer (Mr. Mark T), and towed all of forty feet before the first board came loose. We turned around, tied it up more securely, and set out to get the final surfer.

Then the fun began. The second sail we stuck in the e-boat up had cams, which act like bones under the flesh of the sail and hold its shape. As we spun around surfer number five (Mr. Aussie), the wind caught the sail, blew it over the driver and tipped the boat completely on its side. Mr. Shea fell out, and as I clambered to weigh the beaconing port back down again, Mr. Baker shoved the boat into neutral to avoid dicing Mr. Shea into tiny bits. Wise to our errors, we immediately removed the cams to avoid any further mishaps.

With three boards and three surfers in the water and only enough rope to tow two of them, the frugal mind got a workout. We untangled the anchor line and threw it out to Mr. Aussie. The rope was too thick to tie to the board, so he had to hang on to it (with me on the other end in the e-boat) as we dragged the trio back to the waterfront.

But the adventure was not without mad style. The long trip allowed the Trio plenty of time to master standing on the board and surfing (albeit behind the boat) back to camp.


While circling the pontoon in the boat, Mr. Montana got knocked out by a water balloon launcher shot to to the head. His boat drove itself.

Pirates took over chapel and laid waste to the story of the Three Little Pigs.

We had a floating campfire tonight, where all pirates (even those in suitcoats) were officially exiled from camp via The Plank.

Mr. Mark T and Derek made the largest chocolate chip pancake in camp history. The beast took up two thirds of the griddle and required two men with four spatulas to flip.