I was a dick when I was 12.

We used to visit the States every summer, and because I had absolutely no friends here, I’d spend the vacation months hanging out in comic book stores or sitting in front of my grandmothers’ televisions watching what I thought were totally hip and mainstream American shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Highlander.

Yeah… so my mom sent me to a few summer camps. She thought it would help acclimate me to American kids and the lifestyle should we ever have to move back. The logic is sound enough — but unfortunately for both of us, my mother was in a deep, deep denial as to what a tremendous asshole of pre-teen I was, and all of her endeavors to integrate me into what she thought was US youth culture were pronounced failures.

One of the camps was designed to help kids with lousy grades feel more motivated and self-confident by making them sleep in the same rooms with total strangers and do ropes courses and catch each other in highly dubious “trust falls.”

In retrospect, I recognize the camp as a place for kids afflicted with Attention Deficit Disorder or Hyperactivity or, you know, Stupidity. I suffered from none of the above. I liked school and everything, but like I said, I was an asshole and just didn’t do my homework

Anyway, I’d long forgotten about that silly place until sometime last year, when $unny or one of the Ladies was talking about guys with terrifyingly small penises.

It was 1992 or so when I attended that camp, and as you no doubt recall, baggy clothes were the style of the day. Shit was baggier than even now, really, with that ridiculous Looney-Tunes-in-da-hood apparel being particularly popular amongst the posertronic white kids. 

One such person was in my camp group, and to this day I’ve never seen someone wear his clothes so baggy. I remember him for two reasons. Firstly, he was a bully, which was kind of strange because he was a ginger and quite short. Secondly, his shorts hung so low that during one of his Hyperactive shit-talking performances in front of the whole group, his penis stuck out over the top of his pants. It was sticking straight out at a right-angle, fully erect, yet was smaller than my 12-year-old little finger. 
Everyone exploded in laughter, and he just danced around saying things like, “Yeah, so what? You saw my dick! So what?” like he didn’t even realize how startlingly small his penis was. It was one of the most fucked up things I’ve ever seen. 

I digress — sort of. See, MySpace justified its existence once again yesterday, when I received the following message:

Did you ever attend a summer camp at the Claremont Colleges when you were younger?

I wasn’t there, but my sister Holly was a camp counselor. I remember she told me her favorite camper was a little boy named Andy Khouri from Singapore. It’s a bit odd I suppose, but I liked your name and it stuck in my memory. Thought of it today quite randomly.

Holy shit, right? That’s incredible! And later that night, the camp counselor herself signed up for MySpace and wrote me a letter!

You were 12, so you may not remember much of camp. I was one of your counselors…

You had a crush on a pretty blond girl … I think her name was Meghan? She may have been your girlfriend for all of five minutes. Much drama!

Mostly, I remember our group going to a ropes course and catching Joey, an, ahem, portly kid, when we did trust falls. I’m pretty sure you were making freaked out jokes that Joey was going to crush us all. And I’m pretty sure I told you to shut your little trap.

Your hair looks pretty much the same as it did at 12, ha!

Naturally, it’s thrilling to hear you are a writer. I’m glad to hear my fav camper is alive and well.


Even weirder, my counselor Holly ended up living in Idyllwild and reporting for the local newspaper, but left just before I moved there to start boarding school! Amazing!

Naturally, this whole thing is easily one of the most flattering things anyone’s ever said to me, and of course my mother was very pleased to hear about this development. Stepho was very impressed, too. However, both were disappointed to learn that at 12-years-old I was still saying things like, “Watch out or that fat kid will kill us all.”


EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Khouri in USA Today. | Main | Zen Crazy: How Fake Steve Jobs helped me beat jury duty. »

Reader Comments (2)


Another enjoyable post! Andy I always reckoned that Suzanne was like a powerfull force of nature and generally I always tried to not cross her and keep her on my side. I also reckoned that however normally teenager crazy and even for teenagers a bit more enigmatic you were some times, she'd get you straightened out - probably more accurately I thought you'd survive and flourish even with the combination of George and Suzanne to deal with, of course if we are honest as PU's it's almost always a wonder our children aren't more screwed up than they are!!
I better stop while I am ahead!! or not to far behind anyway.

on lighter I side I often marvelled at the complete irony of me - a complete non outdoor/camper type becoming the Boy Scout Scoutmaster in Singapore, I kept waiting for someone to come up and say "Imposter" and clearly without Suzanne as the backbone of support I likely would have walked! As indeterminate as I could be a determined Suzanne was there saying "don't you think it would be good if etc etc - usually over ideal but some realistic version worked out. You may not recall but at one summer camp we had our largest disagreement and I had to demur from her more than pointed suggestion that you teach one of the classes for younger scouts, no offense but they were screwed up enoygh already! and it was nothing you wanted to do either, just something Suzanne though you should want to do!

Ok, now I am finished! hope none of the above taken in bad way, as said without the force of nature Suzanne and also Rynne (I often had to step back and ponder if Suzanne could possibly be as intense and Rynne really as sweet as they seemed at initial value, now I am being enigmatic I guess) Smith I am sure I would have given up that thankless job even sooner, if not for the help they both gave me!

November 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteelear
November 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbaby

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>