Thursday, July 28



Some kids showed up today for Summer Camp. I regret posting those application forms at the Grocery Store. So much.

"Where's our bunks?" asks the little kid. It's impossible to tell their genders, but I think I don't have a good eye for that. All kids look the same. "I get the top bunk!"

"Sh! I want it," whispers the older one. Their skin is a brownish color and they have strange hair. They have brought a suitcase to summer camp.

"Um..." I tell them. "Uh. Yeah. Yes. Summer Camp. Hold on."

I shut them out of the house and lock the door. "Mr. Happy Puppet Head?" I call. "Hey, some kids actually came for Summer Camp."

No answer. "Hello? Mr. Happy Puppet Head?" I call up the stairs. "What do we do? There are some kids here."

I wait for another moment, trying to locate him in the house, but I don't hear anything. I go back out to the porch. "I'm sorry," I tell the kids. "Camp was cancelled. No camp. Sorry."

The siblings (I guess they're siblings) look at me blankly. "No camp," I continue. "You can go home."

"We flew here," argues the older one. "Our ticket home isn't for another week. Our mom told us we were going to Summer Camp."

"She said softball, too," pulls the younger on the older's elbow. That's when I notice that Mr. Happy Puppet Head is sleeping the bushes. I nudge him with my foot and tell him about the kids and Summer Camp.

"Summer Camp?" he asks as he rolls over.

"Yeah, we never even built those cabins." Despite our best intentions, we had never did make it to the Hardware Store. "What do we do?"

Mr. Happy Puppet Head sighs deeply. "Just make them sleep in the backyard. That's like camping."

So it is.

DAY ONE at the Midnight Mailman Show Summer Camp.

The Campers dig their beds in the yard behind our house. We tell them not to make the holes too deep, because of the worms. After the initial round of questions, they turned out to be pretty good diggers.

"Can we play softball now?" asks the little one.

"No, now we meditate," I tell them. "That means we sit and be quiet. With Zen." I sit on the grass next to their beds and show them how to cross their legs and hold their hands palm up with thumb and middle finger touching. "Shhh..." I whisper. "You can chant, too. If you want." They stand leaning on their shovels. "Great!" I stand up. "Goodnight." Their frightened eyes bore into the back of my neck.

At first they keep knocking on the door. Little polite, scared knocks. A little while later I think I hear them having fun outside, but I'm really trying to pay attention to what's on TV.

DAY TWO (Nature is Nature's Candy)

When I wake up they are sound asleep in their beds. They've even figured out how to cover themselves with dirt like a blanket. My heart melts a little.

They're up after a few gentle nudges on the shoulder. They rub their eyes and ask if there's any breakfast. "No breakfast," I explain. "Last night we made a tentative schedule for the week. Today is 'Nature Day.' So today you are both going to develop your love of the Outdoors." Mr. Happy Puppet Head watches from the kitchen window. He takes a sip from his coffee and turns away. "You can do whatever you want outside," I pick up a stick. "There are sticks everywhere. Nature."

I open the gate to the fence in case they want to escape, but make sure the the sliding glass door is shut tight.

A few hours later I'm forced to tape up a 'No Knocking on Door' sign. Before I go to bed take a peek out the window, and I notice that they don't seem to like eating pinecones and grass. I think about leaving out some of our leftovers, but decide there's only one way to really develop a love for the Outdoors."

DAY TWO (Fun in the Sun!)

They each eat four bowls of cereal. It's like these kids've never been forced to go hungry a day in their lives.

I explain that the rules of today's Sunburn Contest. The kid with the worst sunburn on his back, face, and arms by the end of the day wins. Wins some licorice Jelly Beans. I also point out where the water hose is. I ask them if water hoses are fun and they shrug their shoulders.

I forget to see who wins the contest. I fall asleep reading this really good book.

DAY THREE (More like Farts and Crafts!)

They look at the construction paper and glue like it's poison or something. "You can make pictures with it." I tell them, pointing out the piece of green paper. "Like a rocket ship or a can opener."

Around Lunch Time they break into my house. They climb up to the attic window, which I thought would be too small for them to fit through. I guess it isn't. Luckily I long ago boarded up the pull-down ladder thing a few years ago. That attic is creepy.

I can't fall asleep for a while because of their walking back and forth across the attic floor, which is my bedroom ceiling. They kind of talk a little and laugh sometimes. Kids can be so inconsiderate sometimes. I banged the ceiling with a broom, but they were quiet for only like a minute after that.

DAY FOUR (Western Wednesday)

They showed a whole bunch of old Western Movies on TV today. I never really did like Westerns too much, but these were pretty good.

I hope they're some rats or something in the attic those kids can eat. Maybe some roaches or spiders.

DAY FIVE (Fivty Percent Off Yellow Tags)

I find this really great funny t-shirt at the Thrift Store, and it's a Yellow Tag item. I'll probably never wear, though. It's a little too short.

DAY SIX (Goodbyes are Good)

I decide that today is the last day of Summer Camp. I bang on the ceiling with the broom and yell that it's time for them to go home. I don't hear any response. No shuffling of feet, no talking, nothing.

Downstairs I see a trail of sooty black footprints leading from the fireplace to the front door. The TV is missing, as well as one of my favorite lamps. The door stands open a crack.

"What?" Mr. Happy Puppet Head drops his drink on the floor, spilling liquor everywhere. "Where's the TV?"

"They took it with them."

"Who?"

"The kids."

"Kids?"

"From the Summer Camp."

"But what are we going to do today?" He looks at me like it's my fault.

DAY SEVEN (Reflection)

Next year camp will be ten times better. We'll build that cabin with bunk beds like we wanted to do in the first place, and maybe we'll get some hairnets and cook some chili. Like a big pot of it and keep it in the backyard with some hamburger buns.

I think we could have more games, too. We should dig a pool.

Most importantly is that we all really learned a lot. Mostly about life, but other things, too. We learned that planning is a key component to a successful Summer Camp. We learned that attic Ghosts can now get into my house through the fireplace. We learned that Westerns aren't so bad.

I can't wait for next year.

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