We are all born with certain talents and capacities. Some of us are witty, physically flexible, good with numbers, have an ear for music, have striking eye color, nice brawny immune systems. I had the privilege of spending a couple of summers working with a delightful young woman who, among her other talents, had been blessed with a Jamie Lee Curtis level Hollywood style scream when frightened.
Carly, a lovely slim brunette with an eternally generous heart and a smile which lights up entire country sides, was among the team I was lucky enough to be a part of over the two summers I spent working at a summer camp style resort up in the Muskokas run by the Canadian National Institute For The Blind.
We catered mainly to adult clientele with varying types of impairments ranging from visual to auditory to mobility or mental capacity. For two weeks in the middle of the summer, however, the Kidney Foundation would move in for something they called ‘Camp Dialysun’ bringing three dialysis machines and a flock of young teens to have a chance at ‘summer camp’ instead of spending all their time in and out of hospitals.
Going from visually impaired adults to fully sighted teenagers was always a culture shock and it was humbling to work with kids who have had to deal with so much so early in their lives but the lively energy of kids finally getting a chance to be kids was energizing and infectious.
During the kidney weeks my first summer at the camp one of the senior boys had learned how to make a ‘rattler’ using paperclips and a rubber band.
Bend one paperclip out into a large half circle.
String a rubber band across between the points making it look like a miniature bow and arrow.
Clip a second normally shaped paperclip onto the rubber band, rotate the attached clip until the rubber band is all nice and twisted.
Then place the wound up toy carefully inside something which gets folded or crumpled up around it to keep the wound up gear compressed, hand the contraption to someone asking them to unwrap it, then enjoy the reaction as the released wind-up toy unwinds vibrating in their hands .
With a couple of his buddies the crafty teen had concocted a story about finding the partially rotted remains of some sort of large bug on the boat dock. Warning their victim that the carcass was a little smelly they handed a wad of crumpled up paper towel, containing the paperclip rattler, and invited them to take a peak. A little unfolding of crumpled paper towel and the rattler would go off providing the enjoyable intended jump scare.
Having been given a sample of Carly’s legendary scare scream when she unexpectedly bumped into one of the life guards coming out of the boat house the boys had been biding their time, looking for the perfect opportunity to aim their fiendish device at the ultimate target. To this end they eventually asked for suggestions from a certain senior councilor known to have a respectable enthusiasm for mischief.
Once they had shown me the device and explained their schtick about the bug carcass I told them I would help create their sought after ‘perfect opportunity’ in the dining hall during lunch, they just needed to wait for my signal and then simply say they had something they wanted to show her. Grinning with devilish glee they agreed, giggling and cackling as they headed away, and did a commendable job behaving as if nothing untoward was in the works for the rest of the morning.
Just as everyone was heading into the dining hall, we staff were also in charge of serving the meals, I pulled Carly aside. I warned her the boys had found the half-eaten remains of some bug on the boat dock and were going around grossing out everyone they could by handing them a crumpled up wad of paper towel and asking if they wanted to see something cool.
“I think it was a dragon fly or something. It’s pretty gnarly looking and smells god awful but that’s about it. Kinda gross but just a dead bug.”
“Okaaayyy…” Carly shrugged looking already a little pre-disgusted.
“I’m just mentioning it because they have been waiting to spring it on you in particular. Looking to set off a ‘Jamie Lee’ moment, you know.” Her sigh in response was rather long suffering.
“But it’s dead?”
“Yep. Yucky but dead. Just play up being all disgusted and that should satisfy their thirst for evil.”
“Okay, I’ll be ready for them. Thanks Jeff.”
“You got it,” I said with a companionable pat on the arm.
I then went about my duties getting ready to serve lunch, managing to quietly give one of the boys the thumbs up while making my rounds. Displaying admirable patience and dedication to their game the boys waited until just about everyone was seated before moving in a small huddled group over towards Carly.
She played up her innocent curiosity about what it is they might want from her, doubling down on it when they offered her the crumpled up paper towel saying they had something cool they wanted to show her.
“What have you boys managed to find?” she asked beginning to unpack the scruntched up paper.
The boys stood there like little angels watching with eager to please smiles on their faces. Likely apprehensive about the potential smell Carly was fairly gentle and ginger about the surgery of it. Eventually, however, she finally unpacked enough of it and the rattler device released causing its standard buzzing sound and vibrating sensations.
They heard her reaction up at the main gate.
She didn’t speak to me for about a day and a half.
When she finally did –
“That was a good one. Don’t do it again. But yeah, that was a good one.”