When I was thirteen, I had my first real crush, and his name was, well to save us both some embarrassment, I will call him Ben…Ben Williams. When I first met this young man, I was about eleven or twelve at the time, and I have to admit it was not love at first sight. Ben and I had been friends for some time; I was a Girl Scout, and he was a Boy Scout. We enjoyed several camping and backpacking expeditions during our scouting years. Believe it or not, our troops went backpacking together.
My father was also a Boy Scout leader for Webelos, and he became involved with Ben’s troop. The Scout leader, Mr. Lewis would sometimes invite my dad’s group to participate in activities with the older boys. One weekend, Mr. Lewis’ troop and my dad’s Webelos went camping together, and my dad had me tag along.
We went camping at Lake Chabot in Castro Valley, California. The area was breathtaking. Some of the older scouts built homemade kayaks, and they paddled along the lake to our campsite. The rest of the scouts, my dad, his troop and I backpacked into the campgrounds.
The boys on the kayaks arrived first. Once the rest of us showed up at camp, we were hot and ready for a swim in the lake. As soon as we arrived, my dad told us to set up our gear before we hit the water. We scouted the area and found the perfect place for our bedrolls and supplies. It wasn’t long before Ben, and one of his friends spotted me. They came over with their sleeping bags and knapsacks. Since I was the only female, Ben demanded that I should set up their campsite and dropped their gear at my feet.
“Sure,” I replied sweetly as the two boys laughed and then headed for the lake.
My dad gave me a strange look but went on about his business with helping his scouts get settled, and I began my womanly duties of setting up a suitable site for Ben and his buddy. Earlier, while looking for a proper place to camp, we discovered a huge anthill, and that’s where I decided the two Neanderthals should sleep for the night. First, I carefully laid the canvas on the ground, and it concealed the ants below. Next, I unrolled the sleeping bags on top of the tarp, and I propped their backpacks next to a pine tree. Their home away from home looked pretty cozy. No one would suspect anything sinister, except for my dad, of course. He knew his daughter well; she would not so readily submit to the sexist requests of demanding boys.
Shortly after cooling off in the lake, I heard my father roar, “Ann Marie!” I couldn’t help but laugh because I knew he had discovered my labors, and so did Ben and his sidekick. I raced toward the commotion. Mr. Lewis and the rest of the scouts were laughing as the two lug heads began the task of removing the legion of ants that had found their way into the bedrolls and packs left next to the tree.
My dad glanced my way while trying not to smile. He ordered that I help the boys remove the ant invasion that had moved into their belongings, but the boys did not want me anywhere near their gear. And Mr. Lewis, my old buddy, told my father that the boys had it coming.
Although they spent what seemed liked hours removing ants from their personal property, the two boys did not find them all. That night you could hear them hollering and shouting profanities when an ant found a tender place to nibble. My dad and I would laugh, and he would tell me to be quiet, and I would start giggling again.
Well, somewhere along the way we became sweet on one another. It was the summer before my freshman year of high school, right before my fourteenth birthday. Ben would often come over to see me. Sometimes we would ride our bikes together around the island. Sometimes we went to the beach. Other times, we would sit on the stoop at my house and just talk. Our romance was going quite smoothly until one day he showed up at my house with his best friend. It was in the middle of the day, and the boys in my neighborhood were outside too, hanging out in my yard. We were laughing and talking when all of a sudden, Ben, who was leaning up against my dad’s car pulled me close to him, and he kissed me. All the boys began laughing and teasing me. At that moment, I knew my life would be a living hell if I did not take action. So I did the only thing I could do to put an end to the trouble that I knew was brewing. Jumping back, I raised my fist and hit Ben square on the jaw! I only hit him hard enough as to not ruin my reputation with the rest of the boys on the block. Laughing, Ben rubbed his face, and he told me he would see me later.
And that was it. As quickly as it started, my summer romance ended. And it was at that moment that I knew that being a girl wasn’t going to be an easy journey, especially when it came to the puzzling antics of boys!