Leaving my house at 6 a.m. yesterday on the way to work, I drove down our clay and rock road listening to the two AM stations that both operate on 1030 battle for static dominance when a deer jumped out at me from the tall grass on the side of the road and yelled, “THERE’S A BOMB IN THAT FIELD!” I slammed on my brakes just in time to let him pass. I sighed and thanked God that I started drinking my coffee earlier than usual, and also that I wasn’t drinking coffee when the car stopped suddenly.
Thirty minutes later I ran over a rabbit.
I’ve always had a problem with camp blobs. The forty-foot long bags of air that kids jump on and off like their on the moon. As a ten-year old camper, I was terrified of heights. I had trouble climbing the ladder that led to the jumping-off platform. Plus, once you were up there you had to jump. You couldn’t climb down. Later, as a counselor and then the waterfront director for Camp War Eagle, I made my peace with jumping onto the blob, but I also made sure that any seven year old who changed his mind and wanted to climb down was allowed to do so.
War Eagle keeps its blobs in a man-made pond called the Cove, which is about twenty feet deep and dark water but was surprisingly clean this year. In the past we’ve had problems with algae and then dead fish. One summer, no matter how much we cleaned, there was always one more dead fish for a camper to find and then throw at the pretty girl lifeguards. Now they’ve solved those problems with aerating the water with two big air pumps twenty feet underwater. However, that’s where my new problems began.
As waterfront director, one of my responsibilities was keeping the blob tied together. There’s six feet of bungie that gives the blob its bounce, then twenty feet of yellow poly-something rope that runs down to a metal H structure at the bottom with all the leaves and little kid glasses. When one of the ropes popped off and sunk, I would have to dive for it.
Although I conquered my irrational fear of heights (I’m not going to die dropping eight feet onto a big air bubble), I’m holding strong to my totally logical fear of sea monsters. And though I personally dropped the two thirty-pound aerators in the Cove, everytime I look at the bubbles swelling up to the surface, I have to stop my mouth from yelling, “Everyone out of the water!”
When blobs became untied this summer, I’d float right above where the rope sunk for a good three minutes of deep breathing exercises, then I’d tell the lifeguard on duty that if I wasn’t back in thirty seconds, he was to get the nail gun from the wood shop and come after me. After two years diving for ropes, I still haven’t seen the monster, but I think he’s nocturnal.
I’m thinking of all this because yesterday, three of us took the blobs out of the Cove for the winter. I had to paddle around and cut the bungies before towing it to a dock. It took the entire maintenance staff to pull the blob out of the water – for a floating air mattress it weighs an obscene amount. As they left, they wished me good luck with the cleaning process. Later, I found out why.
Being inside of a blob is a lot like being swallowed by a whale. It’s about the same volume and it smells like a split-open tauntaun. And I thought it smelled bad on the outside. Once you finished scrubbing it dry with towels, you realize the back of your shirt is soaked in blob juice from the collapsing ceiling (it’s always slowly deflating, no matter how much air you pump in). After Justin, my co-worker, and I crawled out, we had to go to the lost and found and change clothes. I got new shorts out of the trash can.
The blobs now reside in boat storage along with every other inflatable and many locked boxed whose contents no one can name. But the Cove montster – he’s still out there.