Friday, March 11, 2005

Thank goodness for tenderiser mercies. Lately I have been thinking about peer pressure. Sometimes it seems to me as though blogging is like an online version of high school, with its cliques and its bitch fights. I know Christian has mentioned this in relation to the fraught politics of Livejournal friends lists (although I can't post a direct link cos that man is fucking everywhere and I can't remember where he said it. Also, I mean that he emphatically is everywhere, rather than he is sexually adventurous. Although he might well be. Ah fuck, I'm just digging that hole deeper, aren't I?)

So I bring you the sorry tale of My Year Eight Camp. This satisfies the wishes of a certain little lady who also wanted me to post that photo of myself at World Expo 88 straddling a styracosaurus' snout so it looked like I had an enormous hard-on. But when I tried to find it, it had mysteriously vanished. And it was awkward having to ask my parents about that photo, "you know, the one where I'm clutching my thirty-inch spiked schlong with both hands?"

Now, I went to an all-girls high school which we shall call Our Lady of the Flies. Year 8 was a tough year. This chick from our year level got abducted by a serial killer on the first day of the Easter holidays. I can't adequately convey the culture of fear this instilled in us. Penny had a nightmare about it just the other night. But the school camp predated all that. It was meant to be a kind of self-sufficiency camp where we took our own food and cooking implements, and cooked all our own meals. We went to Lake Eildon.

There was no serenity.

I don't really remember how it happened, but there was so much bad blood at this camp. There was a bitch-fight on the first day that resulted in our class splitting into two factions. I believe (but am still unsure) that this schism occurred when someone was 'accidentally' hit on the head with a frypan. We had this murder-in-the-dark style chasing game after dinner one night, which was genuinely terrifying. Cam fainted in the middle of it and had to be taken to the first aid tent. Everyone blamed each other but I suspect she actually ran into a tree and knocked herself out or something. There was also an unofficial competition to photograph Emah on the toilet, or swimming in her underwear (she had forgotten to bring her bathers).

Me and Hop copped it the worst. At the start of the camp we had been on the cool edge of daggy; but after the fight our borderline cool friends disowned us and sided with the bitchy popular chicks. The real dags - the Asian prodigies, the goody-goodies, the maths and music nerds - left us alone because they didn't want to attract the ire of the trendy chicks. To make matters worse, we had matching stomach bugs on the day of the all-day hike, leading many to speculate that we were faking it to avoid going on the hike. To dispel this theory, the teachers made us go anyway. The teachers basically stood back and watched us attack each other, even though they could see exactly what was going on. I really felt betrayed that they wouldn't referee it. I felt like I was on my own.

The most terrifying moment of the camp occurred late one afternoon. Me and Hop had retreated from the campsite to the lake shore in order to escape our tormentors. We were snivelling to each other about how unfair things were when a posse approached us, led by Sylvie and Tracy, two of the meanest cunts on that camp. Sylvie was holding a meat tenderiser - you know, a square metal mallet with little spikes on each hitting surface.
Did I mention we took our own cooking implements?

"Stop ruining the fucking camp," said Sylvie.
"We're not ruining it - you're the ones making our lives a misery," I said, stung at this outrage.
"Making our lives a misery," mimicked Sylvie. The others laughed.
I looked around. There was nobody there to save us.
Sylvie bashed the meat tenderiser on the ground by way of demonstration. I seem to recall her saying "I'll tenderise you," but perhaps that's just the version that has passed into folklore, like the story about me throwing up on the principal's shoes at the year 10 semi-formal. I'll have you know that was Cam.

After this camp, the factions stuck, and my diaries of the time are full of agonised musings on 'trendies' and 'daggies'. I was in a so-called Program for Exceptionally Gifted Students, which meant that we had all our classes together, except maths, every year from year seven to year ten. So the prospect of spending two more years with this same group of people was almost intolerable for me. Things deteriorated to the point where our entire class had to get group counselling. We killed off the PEGS program for at least a few years - I think Lucy's year level was the next to do it, and she was four years behind me.

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