Monday, August 27, 2007

Back From Camp

After we dropped the Jawa at Walton's Grizzly Lodge, it took a few days to get my feet back under me. After all, we'd spent something like 42 consecutive days together, and for all our mutual complaining, we'd gotten sort of attached.

To wake up Monday to a very, very empty and quiet house, well, it was unsettling. And naturally, despite the big plans S. Bullock and I had made, we spent the week doing basically the same things we'd have done had our Jawa been home. Except that we occasionally ate dinners while seated at the bar.

Okay, that part was different.

Eventually, I got re-used to being alone, and the few hours we spent each day worrying that our Jawa was having an Allan Sherman-type camp experience made the week pass very quickly.

A word about Walton's Grizzly Lodge: with the guidance of The Hammer, we sent our Jawa to Walton's on purpose, consciously avoiding the very popular (with the/our Jewish crowd) Camp Towanga. For this we are very glad, for while it is true that our child did not learn how to create peace in the world and embrace multiculturalism, he did spend and entire week without showering, played a bunch of frisbee golf, learned the chords D and A on the guitar, and made 11 out of 20 on the air rifle range.

A few years ago, that last detail would have horrified me, and the idea of me on the air rifle range still gives me the willies. I'm a pretty vehement anti-gun guy. But seven years of parenting in San Francisco (and a lifetime unavoidable urge toward contrarianism) has pushed me so far toward wishing it was 1958 that I'll take the air rifle as part of the wholesome Walton's Grizzly Lodge experience.

I am fooling myself, of course. As the Hamptons are just Manhattan in a different setting, so is Walton's Grizzly Lodge San Francisco private school culture set in the mountains an hour north of Tahoe. More than once did I silently thank the unwavering God of materialism and shallowness for forcing me to buy a Volvo last year, allowing us to roll into Walton's on a footing if not even then at least in the ballpark with our fellow campers.

Nobody there had to know that the Volvo was our only car. As far as they were concerned, we had three more just like it back in our garage at home. Oh, wait; we don't have a garage. They didn't have to know that, either.

Both Sandra Bullock and I cursed ourselves for being such class victims. "I hate to admit it," said my self-made bridge of almost 15 years, "but I kind of like this scene."

"Me, too." Mighty and judgemental lords of San Francisco groupthink, do your worst. We are guilty as charged.

Not that I didn't love the shabby, broken-down Pine Hill Motel, our layover point on the drive up. Equally boistrous in his love was the Man About Town, who met us there with his son and Man-About-Town-in-Training, Tony Hawk.

It is not easy to become a Man About Town. The more I see the Man About Town in action, the more I believe that, like champion spellers, Men About Town are born, not made.

Here's a scenario for you: You are driving through the mountains and come upon a town so small that if you blinked, you would miss it. This town is so small that you have to leave it just to change your mind. It contains a gas station. You stop to gas up your car. As you are filling your tank, a forest service truck drives up. The driver gets out and begins to fill up the truck's gas tank. Do you:

A) Nod and say nothing.

B) Turn in the other direction, suddenly take great interest in your thumbnail or get back in your car until your gas tank is full.

C) Engage the forest service woman in a detailed conversation about the difficulties of maintaining effective forest fire spotting coverage, given that budget cuts have affected staffing in the forest service.

If you answered A or B, you are me.

Quincy, California is the home of "single moms who are dirtbags," according to our server at Moons, the best restaurant in town. It has more single moms than any other place she had ever lived. Would I know this were we not in the presence of a Man About Town? No.

We are very pleased with our Jawa's experience at Walton's Grizzly Lodge. Weirdly, he returned home a much more polite version of his usually slightly rude self. Doors which previously slammed in our faces were suddenly held open with grace and elan. "Do you need any help," a phrase neverbefore uttered by our Jawa, has become commonplace. I don't get it, but I hope it is a while before it wears off. Next year he will have to go to Walton's Grizzly Lodge for two weeks instead of one. I will have to manage.

Call them tweens or pre-teens, and check this out: still young enough to use his camp dough to buy a Walton's Grizzly Lodge teddy bear, but hip enough to put said teddy bear to work scratching out the twin turntables drawn on the back of his new Red Hot Chili Peppers CD cover. "He's DJ Grizzly Lodge," says my Jawa.

Tomorrow is the first day of fifth grade.


Anonymous anotherlefty said...

It's nice they didn't start school on YOUR MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY.

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