A few days ago we got together with our friends to watch the classic summercamp movie, "Meatballs." We'd all considered it a must-see film for most of our lives, but none of us had ever sat down and watched it. So we decided to deal with the poor sound quality and 70's outfits and see what all the fuss was about. While we were watching, we started to really wonder what the hell all the fuss was about. I mean, here's a movie with no plot and bad acting, plus a title that has nothing to do with the story. "Meatballs?" Really? Why?
Afterwards we declared the movie a total disaster and agreed that we were none the better for watching it. I'm sure some of you won't like this opinion, some of you people who are responsible for "Meatballs" becoming such a cult classic in the first place, but come on. What was the deal with that little boy Rudy and his relationship with Bill Murray's character? Our friend Mike kept wondering aloud if maybe they were going to hook up. At least that would have been a plot twist worth following.
Despite the fact that I didn't get the movie, I will say it certainly caught the feel of summercamp successfully. Back in the day, when I was a frizzy-haired adolescent beauty, with those pink, plastic-rimmed glasses and a penchant for being ultra-pensive at the drop of a hat (luckily I had a diary to capture all the best, most moving thoughts and feelings), I attended Camp Appalachia, which, as you may have guessed, was settled near the beautiful mountain chain, and complete with everything a young person could want at camp. There was an arts and crafts cabin, a large dining hall and horseback riding. We took swimming lessons in a very cold river with a wicked strong current. We sang camp songs in unison after meals, competed in talent shows and asked our counselors about their romantic lives, something we'd have to look forward to someday. We brushed our teeth together using water faucets situated at the end of the row of cabins, and we took showers together in the communal shower room which featured no curtains or anything of the sort. Being stark naked in front of everyone, just everyone, is exactly what you want when you are a budding teenager, after all.
But perhaps the thing I remember most fondly about Camp Appy, as it was fondly called, was gathering around this girl's bunk - "Peanut," we called her - and learning about tampons and how it's pretty hard to put them in.
You're asking yourselves, "She's not serious, is she? A summer complete with nature and campfires and new friends and she remembers some tampon conversation?"
Yes. Because it was one of those moments in my young life I think about every time I see a movie like "Meatballs," or a copy of the book "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret," and I'm reminded that I, too, was once a young girl unsure of what was to come in life. Therefore, sitting there on a nearby bunk, with probably a few pimples but no need yet for a bra, and not yet feeling the pangs of unrequited love, listening to this girl talk about trying tampons for the first time - this girl I sort of revered, because she'd been at Camp Appy, like, every summer since birth pretty much and just totally knew her stuff - was one of those coming of age moments that just can't be bought. And the shorts and t-shirts we put on every day, the sweatshirts we needed while walking the grounds at night, the friendship bracelets, stealing Cabin Nine's underwear, the petty fights and the bat that woke us up that one, horrible time, flying above our heads in a blind frenzy...those things didn't make the moment, but they certainly amplified and perfected it. Something they don't advertise in the brochures, but something they usually get right in the movies. A lesson just as important as learning to play tennis or getting the backstroke just right.