From the Winsted Register Citizen
A 55-year old reporter from the Winsted Daily Tribune was found this morning in the fetal position in the corner of the old Arts & Crafts shack on the grounds of the former Camp Delaware in Winsted. He was surrounded by a sandwich bag of gummy bears and brownie crumbs and a half-completed potholder still on that thing where you make potholders. He was babbling about having stumbled on the scene of a couple of very attractive middle-aged women pouring shots of tequila through a funnel on the hood of a red Subaru. When they weren’t looking he snatched the leftovers that they were saving for later, ran into the shack and managed to jot down the headline you see above. Having landed such a major story we will surely recruit him away from that daily rag once he gets out of rehab.
I don’t usually travel with a funnel. As a matter fact I’ve only owned a funnel for about a month, purchased as a way to not waste the wine that I never manage to drink from my second glass. As my friend Beth and I were getting ready for our bi-annual camp reunion we discovered that in order to effectively pour what has now become a tradition of each of us doing one shot of tequila in the parking lot of camp, we needed to jerry-rig a way to pour it out of a travel mug and into shot glasses.
“Do you have a funnel?”
“As a matter of fact I DO!” and from there, we were off and running.
I’ve written endlessly about these reunions and the rush of happiness they bring to everyone who attends. The ease and joy of being around people who we’ve known for over thirty years in a place that means so much to all of us is still hard to describe in a way that people who haven’t experienced it can fully understand. It is what draws us back, every two years.
The atmosphere is loose and fluid as you float from one cluster of people to another. There is no rushing around, no obligations to be anywhere other than just being together in a very short amount of time that goes way too quickly. The weekend is a revolving door of people and the only regret is not being able to spend enough time with those who are so worthy of it. As I said last year in a Facebook post, there is not one person there who is NOT worth knowing.
In these brief snippets of time the mood is light. There is very little talk about the pressures of work and the demands of every day life. Everywhere you look people have pipes or joints or those vape things in their mouths. In addition to the old-fashioned way of smoking pot there are “edibles” in gummy bears, brownies, lollipops and a bunch of other things as a cleaner delivery system. They scare me.
We eat at the pizza place that we’ve eaten since we were six. We order the same food that we can taste in our sleep, and have it placed on the table for everyone to share. Feeding eight people costs in the range of $50.
Friday night we manage to scare the locals when close to sixty-five people pour into one of the only restaurants in town. It’s like a scene from Candid Camera, the looks on their faces wondering what the hell is going on. I watched as a little girl clung to her mother’s arm for dear life. When I smiled at her she looked away in horror and fear.
On Saturday night on the basketball court there is a ceremony honoring people who have made a big impact and embody the spirit of camp. We sit on the same bleachers we sat on as children (getting up on them is not quite as easy as it used to be) and listen to the magnificent tributes paid to lifelong friends. A band of former campers play their amazing music and we dance and smile and hug long into the night.
Back at the hotel where many of us stay (I use the word “hotel” lightly) we gather in a small gazebo in the parking lot for a sort-of after-party, where those who still have it in them drink from bottles of vodka and tequila (I am one of those who do not have it in them.) Things tend to get a bit animated and sloppy but they are priceless moments to be retold and retold as memories for years to come. I watched as my friend Lauren dropped her phone in her cooler and mid-sentence pulled it out, looked at it, and kept talking. She no longer has a working phone with an endless amount of pictures from the weekend trapped inside. Somehow, it became 2:30 in the morning.
I have warned my daughter that she can not talk to me when I come practically stumbling through the door of my house on Sunday. I’ve made the mistake of telling her that the only time I smoke cigarettes (I quit years ago) is at these reunions. When she later asked if I smoked a cigarette I said yes (In reality, I may or may not have smoked a pack.)
It is now Monday and I have slept for a countless number of hours, have a pounding headache and an aching body. The tequila elixir has long since left my system, the fountain of youth inside of me slowly drying up a bit. Maybe in two years I’ll have a different car, with a different color hood, but always, from now on, I will travel with a funnel.