When I was little, my family would go camping at Big Trees State Park. It had a crystal clear river, large boulders that begged children to climb across their time-worn faces, and (as the name suggests) big trees. Really, really big trees. I know what you’re thinking: “Tina is very short. Even shrubbery would seem like big trees to her.” Wrong! I have stood at the base of trees that towered 200 feet above me and asked them how the air was up there. They had little to say in return. Big trees just don’t get my sense of humor.
The list of cons for this summer wonderland was short, but significant. I got two words for ya. Porta. Potties. I was cursed, even from a tender age, with impeccably high bathroom standards. The practice of collecting communal excrement horrified me then, and does still, to this day. The pungent aroma offended my delicate, six-year-old sensibilities to the point that I refused to use the facilities. For three days in the summer of 1982, I stoically held on to my principals and my bowels. In the interest of honestly, I suspect (though, don’t remember) that I found liquid relief in the no-longer-crystal-clear river.
On the third day, the good Lord saw fit to ease my suffering and sent my deliverer in the form of The Maintenance Man from Heaven. He came down like an angel from above and cleansed the pit of despair, making it pine-sol fresh and fit for decent, God-fearing human beings. I marched boldly to that porta-potty, determined to be the first one to use it just as soon as the MM from H finished purifying it. And there, already standing in line, was my cousin Lori. She was a grown-up 13 year old, and I didn’t have sufficient seniority to bump her in line. I sent up a desperate plea to my creator and prepared myself for warfare. I pulled a knife from my boot and lunged at my opponent who had craftily hidden a pistol in her fanny pack. She dodged my attack, lowered her weapon at my head, and asked, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”
The memory, I’ll admit has gotten a little fuzzy over the years. It either ended with Lori killing me in cold-blood in the mountains, or it ended when she saw the desperate look on my face and said, “You wanna go first?”