The sound of shaving cream exiting a can is one that many women despise, and I am one of them. However, it isn’t the “task” of seasonal (yes, seasonal) leg shaving that drives my eardrums crazy. It is that the sound is a subtle reminder of the one and only time I’ve ever been ambushed in the dark by the very real creatures, wild, and native to high schools across the United States (and I’m sure beyond) known as band camp bitches.
It happened during the annual torture known as band camp, late August 2002. I have never been one to really love camping and the idea of sharing a cabin with my friends sounds fun now as long as said cabin is actually housed indoors and could double as a hotel, sans Troop Beverly Hills. When I was seventeen the idea of spending a week in a hot, stuffy, crowded cabin didn’t seem like my idea of a good time. I loved my friends. I even loved marching band back then. But no one could pay me enough money to love the idea of “camping.”
I hated everything about band camp. I hated waking up at dawn to fight for a lukewarm (at best) shower. I hated hearing bugs and not being able to identify their stance before the inevitable attack. Not being able to have access to a lamp. Not being able to read myself to sleep by said lamp. Not having a bathroom near.me.at.all. I hated not sleeping in my own bed, or even a comfortable bed. Not having “real” food.
I am well aware that these things are first world problems, but when you’re seventeen, your first and only world, is yourself.
My parents drove the forty miles to Camp Hell about three evenings a week and brought provisions for me and my equally desperate friends. They brought pizza, snacks, Gatorade, water, you name it.
Overall, that year was going okay. I was in a cabin that wasn’t “quite” so bad and I was bunked with two friend I still have today: Morgan and Kennedy. I still hated the before dawn showers, the bugs, and the food, but I was surviving. I was a junior and it was far from my first rodeo.
Every night, I prayed that something would happen and we’d all have to go home. Maybe the water would go out? Maybe the kitchen would suddenly catch fire? Maybe, just maybe, we’d have weather severe enough to threaten our very lives. (See? Seventeen. Very centric thinking.)
The night of the sneak attack was like every other had been that week. I went to sleep with the hope that I’d wake up and be able to go home.
But I didn’t.
I woke up to find that a group of senior girls (keep it classy 2002) had gotten into our cabin and made messes of varying degrees and “shaving creamed” a few of us lucky ones.
I couldn’t hear very well out of my left ear. It was packed with shaving cream. I have no idea why I didn’t wake up while this was happening to me. I can only say that I slept like the dead and still do. I recently slept through my husband testing the fire alarms in our house.
My friends and I sprang to action. Our cabin was a disaster. And my ear hurt.
Morgan and Kennedy helped me get the shaving cream out of my ear the best we could. They held my head under running water and flushed the ear as much as we could. After a few minutes, they left me in the bathroom to take a shower. What they, what no one knows, is that I sat on the floor and cried. My ear throbbed and I couldn’t hear still.
I showered and our parental chaperone dropped a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into my ear to help dilute the cream.
We told our director and the girls were caught. They gave us pithy apologizes. They cried. Not because they were remorseful. They cried because they got caught. They were a group of girls that I didn’t like. Fifteen years later, I don’t like the women they became either.
I went on the rest of the week pretending I was fine.
I wasn’t fine.
When I got home, I had to go to my family doctor. I had a severe ear infection in my left ear. The one that the senior girls packed with shaving cream. And yes, the infection was caused from that event.
What those band camp bitches also didn’t know is that I had broken my left eardrum as a kid.
To this day, I know I am getting sick when my left ear hurts. It also bothers me on occasion for no apparent reason.
These girls, now women, likely do not remember the event. I struggle to remember the details, except what it felt like to cry in that dirty cabin bathroom. I know that I couldn’t stand them and that had I been then, the woman I am now, I wouldn’t have taken their pithy apologizes. I would have demanded more from the director that I already didn’t respect much. I was only in marching band because my friends were and I had fun with them.
I wouldn’t necessarily call their actions bullying but it wasn’t exactly fun teenage hijinks either.
I went to camp one last time as a senior. That year, I got sunburned, my nail color melted off my nails from the heat, and it was yet again, an exercise in things I actively hated, but it was different. “We” were in charge and no one got hurt.
I pass the camp as an adult on my way up north with my husband. It gives me a case of chills. I may or may not flip it off, sometimes mentally, sometimes actually, as I drive or ride by.
I am sure that those girls that didn’t mean any harm, but they caused it.
I got hurt from their actions and I never forgot what it felt like to be seventeen years old and crying on the floor in a dirty cabin because someone else thought they were being “funny.”
I like to laugh as much as anyone else, but the sound of shaving cream exiting a can does quite the opposite.
(Bottom left: me-leaving for the first day of band camp my senior year)
(Bottom right: me-home from band camp my senior year)