Band camp in high school was an awful, degenerate place that everyone looked forward to. After spending a hot summer working and fending off all the damn Myrtle Beach tourists, there was nothing better to a teenage kid than to go hang out all day long with other teenage kids and do various and sundry teenage kid shit.

Band Camp
We never had band camp at our school – that would be way too pedestrian. No, we traveled to band camp. In the summer before my junior year, we traveled from my home town near Myrtle Beach down to Charleston. Band camp was held at Baptist College (now called Charleston Southern), and it was absolute heaven to a bunch of horny-ass kids with limited adult supervision. Band camp was a rite of passage…often it was a place where you drank alcohol for the first time. Never the good shit, mind you; always some piss-poor facsimile of alcohol like Boone’s Farm or Thunderbird (don’t let the fruity taste fool you), or Mad Dog 20/20, affectionately known as “40 Dog”. Utter swill. Check that; swill tastes better and doesn’t hang you over as bad.

Band camp was also a great place to get laid. Getting laid was the principle goal of every young man attending the camp. Of course, simple macroeconomics teaches you that supply don’t always meet demand, and therefore, many young men went to bed with Rosy Palm during that week, while others made out like Arch Bishop Don “Magic” Juan (he’s a real-live pimp, for all you haters out there that don’t recognize). Yeah…I miss Rosy. Aw, who am I kidding? She and I are still close.

Dirty
Now, just because every guy was horny, that didn’t mean that every girl was a target. Case in point: “Dirty”. Dirty is not her real name, but “Dirty” is exactly the nickname that we chose for her. This chick was foul. Her clothes were dirty, her shoes looked like her mom wore them at her shit-kicking job during 3rd shift, and bathing was as foreign a concept to her as existentialism. She reeked. She smelled. A vapor trail was exuding from her very pores, and it followed her around like a stray dog follows a pork chop vendor. I can forgive her for the clothes and shoes (magnanimous of me, eh?). I mean, not everyone is able to provide new clothes and shoes. Some people have to just make do with what they have. But the bathing thing…I don’t get it. Maybe it was against her religion. No, wait, she was Black Baptist, and you best believe BB’s are all about bathing. How hard is it to get some soft soap from the school bathroom and rub it into your armpits? Something, anything, would’ve been better than that Eau de Bag of Ass she routinely wore. I bet chimney sweeps fresh from their job at the coal yards have better hygiene than Dirty. The “Extreme Makeover” team would take one look at that train wreck and say “Fuck this.”

The icing on the cake was her hair. She didn’t have the funds to get a clean pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, but her hair got done, believe that. She had the iconic black hairstyle of the 80s – a jheri curl. On her it was a scary curl. It was under-moisturized, meaning it always looked dry, brittle, and frizzy. And it was red. Well, burgundy. A deep, rich burgundy, shocking in its brilliance. And Dirty just KNEW she looked good. She was happy to tell you all about how many guys wanted her, and how hot she was, and so on. Her looks were mediocre, her hygiene was trash, and her personality sucked. Sounds like wife material to me!

The Day The Rain Came
Well, one day we were out on the practice field, going over fundamentals (marching 8 to 5, corp-style marching, standing at attention, all that military-type shit). It was hot, boring work, but necessary for the newbies. During the breaks, Dirty could be heard bragging about some dude that she’d been messing with. My gang was notorious for busting balls, but Dirty was beneath us. She was too easy a target. We had been out there for about an hour and a half when, very suddenly, storm clouds came rolling in. This wasn’t a big deal…our band director wasn’t about to let us off because of some random wetness. It would have to lightning for us to leave the field. A lot of the newbies were nervous. So was Dirty, for some reason. She wasn’t a newbie, so it was kinda weird for her to be concerned about the rain. She kept saying “Dag, that rain gonna mess up my hair.” No one was listening to her, except for two newbies who also had jheri curls, and hence, the same concerns. Or so we thought. The rain came, one fat drop at a time. Dirty asks loudly whether we’ll be going inside. No, said our director, it’s just a little rain, and it won’t hurt anyone. So we continue going through our drills, and it starts raining harder and harder. Soon it’s one of those late summer monsoon-style rainstorms that soak you to the bone. Still we marched. Then a loud crack of thunder convinced our director that the indoors is a perfectly fine place to have practice. We all haul major ass to get on the bus that’ll take us back to our dorms. Let me tell you, nothing smells like a bus full of wet, sweaty teenagers. We all get settled in, and get ready for the ride back. Then, it happens.

Dirty gets on the bus.

Dirty is soaking wet.

Dirty’s hair is soaking wet.

Dirty’s hair is no longer burgundy!

Dirty’s FACE is now burgundy!

You see, Dirty didn’t go to the beauty parlor for her coloring. She didn’t go to her friend Starkeisha’s house, either. She didn’t even ask her mother to do it. No, Dirty tried a much simpler method. She used CHERRY KOOL-AID! So when it rained, all the Kool-Aid ran out of her hair, down her face, and into her shirt. All we needed was a cup of sugar and a spoon and we’d have some Dirty daiquiris! It was by-God the funniest thing we’d seen all week, and we laughed like we were watching Dave Chappelle. Yes, to her face. She was mortified. 15 years removed, I know that what we did was a bad, bad thing, something that coulda scarred her for life. I feel a twinge of remorse now. But just a twinge. After all, she wasn’t simply an innocent victim – she was an often-rude, loud, abrasive chick, and we didn’t feel bad for laughing at her.

Besides, the shit was funny as hell.

Peace.

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