What my first summer camp crush taught me
Happy Wet Hot American Summer day, gigglers! In honor of our beloved cult movie’s new Netflix series, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp dropping today, we’re running our favorite summer camp stories.
The exact details of my first camp crush are hazy—it’s kind of like a summer day in that sense, bits and pieces of memory long-since dissolved into the recesses of my mind. Some parts of it are crystal-clear, readily available for my own reference, and other parts are a little harder to recall.
Regardless of what I can’t remember, what I do know is that I was a young girl at sleepaway camp, and my summer crush was pretty epic. I was awkward at that stage—long-limbed and gawky, not quite having hit the growth spurt that would later dominate my middle school years and propel me to a height of over six feet. I definitely didn’t have an easily-defined figure, either. My breasts were nonexistent, closer to mosquito bites than anything that would need to be secured by a bra. I was all elbows and knees flailing around, but if there was one place I felt more graceful than anywhere else it was on the basketball court.
I was always one of the few girls who even dared to step out onto the court. Surprisingly, I was accepted fairly quickly by my male teammates. I suspect part of this had to do with the fact that even though I wasn’t towering over everyone else yet, I still clocked in at an impressive height for a girl. It was there, though, on the hot blacktop and somewhere in between games of HORSE and casual five-on-five, that I first laid eyes on my summer crush.
His name escapes me now. I want to say it was something like Justin or Jason, one of those undeniably ’90s boy names. He had jet-black hair and was considerably more tanned than a lot of the other guys, and was pretty toned. He frequently wore sleeveless t-shirts to show off his muscles. I was head over heels.
I’d always considered myself more of a tomboy in those years, more interested in things like video games and sports. I definitely wasn’t into makeup and I would’ve been much happier to curl up with a book in those days than sit around and gossip about boys. I was just more comfortable talking to guys and hanging out with them, and soon I had been accepted into the group. Which would have been fine, except being in such close proximity with my crush only fueled the overwhelming flames of feels in my brain.
My infatuation must not have been subtle, because I soon attracted the attention of the girls who were my cabin-mates, who proclaimed that the two of us would make an adorable couple. Someone proclaimed the genesis of an idea and soon the word makeover was being whispered around me. Suddenly makeup was being produced from seemingly out of thin air. One of the girls let me borrow a spaghetti-strap tank top when it was discovered that I had only brought an assortment of t-shirts to wear to camp. In no time at all I was dressed up, made up and feeling completely unlike myself. But I was nervous and excited to see how my new look would go over with the guy of my dreams.
The girls had been separated by the guys for a little down time, but once the hour was up we were all starting to trickle back into the common room of our cabin. My crush-who-shall-not-be-named was there too, sitting on a couch alone. I could feel multiple pairs of eyes on me as I took a deep breath, gathered my courage and plopped down right next to him.
I was totally trying to play it cool, but I may have found a way to gently nudge my arm against his to get his attention. “Hey,” I said.
He looked up at me and I paused, waiting with bated breath.
“Hey.” His expression was completely blank and non-reactive. Okay, not ideal. I waited for him to say something, anything at all.
If I learned something in that moment of wishing and hoping, it was this: boys, at that age, are hopelessly oblivious. In this case, my crush was not the exception to the rule. I was understandably dismayed, but looking back on it I realize that it was a pretty silly thing to do in the first place. As much as I wanted him to look at me as someone other than one of the guys, I didn’t have to sacrifice everything that made me me to do it.
In case you’re wondering, we didn’t end up having an amazing summer camp romance—but I did school a bunch of dudes in basketball, and that was satisfying enough for me.
[Image via FOX]