Free-Floating Hostility

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Camp of Our Own

A few days ago Mike alerted me this article from Slate by one Meghan O'Rourke, all about nerd camp. My nerd camp! Jess got their first, of course, having posted about CTY months ago on Bee Policy. But it was still exciting for a number of reasons. O'Rourke apparently spent her CTY summers at Skidmore, and not at Franklin & Marshall college of Lancaster, PA where I did. But her assessment is 100% accurate. We didn't have a guy in an inflatable pink flamingo at F&M, but we did have a guy who wore a wizard's cap to breakfast-- before Harry Potter, mind you. Actually that was Jess's boyfriend.

I cannot really convey the importance of that program to my developing into a (reasonably) well-adjusted adult. It wasn't the classes, though they were good except for Genetics, but I mostly spent that class flirting with Chris-Who's-Cute-When-he-Falls-off-his-Chair-and-Blows-his-Nose anyway. CTY gave me a chance to play at being normal for a few weeks a year. It did more to socialize me than any other experience, including school. And I made friends there whose work is now populating the sidebar of this blog: bloggers Jess and Laura, not to mention Reader All-Star Isaac, and Debbi, about whom I've at least told you stories here if not in real life. I was really, truly happy there. When I wax nostalgic about my adolescence, that is the only place my mind ever goes. The rest of the period was gruesome.

But the best part of O'Rourke's article from my point of view was this:
...[T]he weekly dances were, as a friend recently put it, wondrous displays of group awkwardness. In our day, each concluded with either "Sympathy for the Devil," "Ana Ng," or "American Pie," at the end of which students chanted "Die! Die! Die! Die! Live! Live! Live! Live! Sex! Sex! Sex! Sex! More! More! More! More!" Delighted, we would go home invigorated and exhausted—a kind of clean high.

This post is one of the proudest moments of my life. Why? Because I'm the one who started "Sex! Sex! Sex!"

It was Slut Day. That wasn't a camp tradition, it was something I started on a whim, this being a period of my life in which I valued attention above dignity. To be clear, our definition of sluttishness was pretty mild; no one scored below a 70 on the Purity Test and most of us were lying. Anyway, shouting "Die Die Die" at the chorus of "American Pie" was already a long-standing tradition when I arrived at CTY, but the summer of 1994 something had happened--possibly a suicide?--that convinced people to tack on "Live! Live! Live!" afterwards in a flurry of PC-ism. Then as now I found the revision pretty lame, so on that particular day, Slut Day, since we had been talking about nothing but sex since breakfast, I threw in "Sex! Sex! Sex!" as a kind of musical one-liner. Well, it caught on like hula hoops. The next thing I knew it was part of the canon. The addition of "More! More! More!" followed hard upon, but I'm not sure who was responsible, possibly someone from a large and powerful clique known as Digi Clan. Cause its founders met in Digital Logic, obviously. I looked them up, and their website is actually still in existence.

It's a kind of corrollary to Margaret Mead's aphorism that one person with a really geeky idea can leave her mark on posterity. O'Rourke wasn't even at my site, and by the time she got there "Sex! Sex! Sex! More! More! More!" was already an anonymous tradition. I'm Virginia Woolf's Anon. I rule.

16 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Trixie at July 22, 2006 3:54 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Oh dear I think I'm going to rain on your parade but I know Meghan O'Rourke from Slate, she went to St. Ann's and she's older than you. That I'm writing this proves I'm a bad mother, the defintion of which is valuing the truth over your child's happiness.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at July 22, 2006 4:15 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • She might be older than me, all she had to do was join CTY second session 1994 or later. I remember, I was there. And we all now how much you love the truth, which is why you're incapable of repeating a conversation without embellishment.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at July 23, 2006 9:50 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I too was a CTYer, though I had thought that Hopkins had changed the name to the Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth.

    Memory is hazy, but I was something like '94-'96 at Dickinson campus. And Ms. O'Rouke said she attend in '88--which, if I remember the rules about sperm (first-years) and nevermores (last-years), probably means she could not have attended any session of '94.

    Not to doubt the veracity of your recollection. A commune of nerds like that is bound to eventually display some sort of eternal recurrence. We never shouted "Live, live, live," only the other three.


  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at July 23, 2006 9:53 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • And I'm pretty sure Isaac and I attended together.


  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at July 24, 2006 10:23 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Wow, this is really interesting. I am willing to swear on my life that my adolescent hijinx got the thing started at Lancaster, but as I said, it morphed very quickly into the full-fledged version. That makes sense if there was already a preexisting "More More More" custom at other sites. I must have just accidentally stumbled onto an ongoing tradition. Given that the word was Sex and we were fourteen it wasn't that improbable.

    So I'm not Anon, I'm just a half-assed Leibniz. I can live with that.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at July 26, 2006 9:36 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Well, I invented the llama sign. I think I also invented saying "We love you!" after the old traditional "Go home, nobody loves you!" though if I did invent it, it was in a moment of abnormal good feeling and emotional generosity, because it embarasses me now.
    They sing The Eyelash Song ritually after dances, at least a F&M where I RA'd. Jess and Laura (Steve) invented that when they were roommates.
    But that nobody remembers "Cows Are Freaky" is proof of the wickedness of the world. Still, when I was RA the kids spoke about John Rootabega like he was the god of some cargo cult. The silliness of the fathers is definitely visited on the sons. Unto, like, a mole of generations.
    P.S. I remember Meghan O'Rourke from St. Ann's but didn't know she'd gone to CTY.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at July 26, 2006 9:38 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • PPS - Ross, I think I remember your name, but I was never at any site but F&M either as a student or as an RA. Fat chance of my getting to be a TA or instructor, though I could teach those kids a hell of a Latin or Greek class.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at July 26, 2006 1:47 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Wow, Jess and Laura are Anon.

    I tried to see if I could find the lyrics to the eyelash song online, and I met with success.
    The oral tradition has transformed the line "Once I met a guy/and he didn't have any eyelashes" to "Once I met a boy...".

    Cows are Freaky is listed there, too, but the first verse hasn't made it. (If you see a cow/and he looks you in the eye/you say "Gosh! Gee! Wow!/ I'm a lucky guy)(puncutation mine). Of course they remembered the verse about the cow high on crack.

    If anyone's silliness deserved deification, it was John's. Does anyone know where he is these days?

  •   Posted by Blogger jess at July 27, 2006 12:45 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • We didn't have a guy in an inflatable pink flamingo at F&M, but we did have a guy who wore a wizard's cap to breakfast-- before Harry Potter, mind you. Actually that was Jess's boyfriend.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA awesome.

    How did I not notice that the first verse of "Cows are Freaky" was missing? I was just looking at that wiki and being surprised that "Cows are Freaky" and the Eyelash Song were both represented. Laura was like, "who PUTS these things there?" I was impressed with the relative accuracy but I totally missed that "Cows" was truncated.

    We didn't write the Eyelash Song, btw. But we are better people than the girl who did, so that's a fine rumor.

    I loved that article, by the way, because it's the first CTY article I've read that was actually by a CTYer. The one in the New Yorker a couple years ago seemed to feel honor-bound to inject some kind of "but is it okay to isolate the smart kids?" spin in order to justify the fact that they wrote it. O'Rourke, on the other hand, is just like "hey, CTY! It ruled."

    I thought I remembered you starting "sex sex sex" at LAN, but she definitely said she went in '88 (first thing I noticed in the article, since Laura had read it as '98 and we were both freaking out). No shame in being a Leibniz though.

    I never remember who invented most stuff. I vividly remember hearing Anna and Debbie quoting something funny at a reunion, and saying "haha, who said that?" and the answer being "you."

  •   Posted by Blogger Laura at July 27, 2006 1:54 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Anna, I would swear that, too. It's possible that our new F&M traditions were actually imported from Carlisle, but I would swear on somebody's mother's grave that the sex/more phenomenon was popularized by you and possibly starts-with-j-ends-with-onwachter.

    Still, when I was RA the kids spoke about John Rootabega like he was the god of some cargo cult.

    This is the best thing ever.

    I miss you guys!

  •   Posted by Blogger jess at July 27, 2006 8:03 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • and possibly starts-with-j-ends-with-onwachter

    Oh yeah, this is another very good example of silly nicknames for people. Was I responsible for this one?

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at July 27, 2006 11:25 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I think I was the one who first said it, but I was just answering the question "who" or something, you may have been the one to turn it into a nickname. Reading it now it comes across as a little like He who Must not be Named.

  •   Posted by Blogger raalla at July 28, 2008 5:12 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Regardless of how complicated reading this and all its comments was, due to the fact that you all know each other and also are confused, This Post Is Really Cool.
    As a current CTY LAN-er with other CTYer friends who are bored and PCTYD'ing, and thus researching and posting on facebook links about the origins of the end of American Pie, the very fact that you still think about CTY and talk to your CTY friends is pretty much the best thing ever.
    I'mastalkerynerd, sorry. But all the old traditions are nameless now, and it's cool to see that people [think that they] remember where they come from.
    [/rambly comment]

  •   Posted by Anonymous jess at July 29, 2008 10:41 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • That warmed my heart, and I propose a slogan for the old-timer LLRT crew. LAN 94-95: We All Know Each Other And Are Confused.

    Also, there's a comment from Isaac on this thread holy shit.

    P.S. I'm still pretty sure "starts with J, ends with onwachter" was me. Boo-yah, etc.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at December 17, 2011 9:46 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • If you stated "Sex," as a current two-more, I amin awe. I love CTY. It's where I'm home.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at January 20, 2015 4:26 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I am a CTYer since 13.1 (2013, session 1) at Lancaster. I can tell you that "Orgy!" has now been added to the end of the "die die die die" chant. In addition to Eyelashes, we do several Afterdance chants. We still shout "We love you" back at the RAs. As far as I know, it's still "once there was a guy". Also, RealCTY is a student-run website (similar to Wikipedia) with every tradition and its variations from session to session.

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