(pictured- the view from our tent at camp, 2004 or so)
Like stereotypical children from Connecticut, my two friends Rachel and Claire and I went to a posh sleep away horse back riding camp.
It was just like my fantasies spurred on by watching The Parent Trap for so many years. We ate breakfast in a mess hall, we shared a bunker with three other girls, and we spent all day doing fun stuff like brushing our horses and doing crafts and playing tetherball. It sounds so lame. It probably was.
It was probably as lame as the lip synching contest.
It happened every session at the all-girl camp in upstate New York. The other tents had planned out half-baked acts lip synching to popular songs on the radio like “Where is the Love” by the Black Eyed Peas, and “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. I kinda knew at the time I was a little extra, so I wasn’t having any of my tent mates’ basic suggestions.
I wanted to write song parodies. I didn’t really care if it wasn’t in the rules, I just wanted us to stand out. Somehow, the entire tent agreed this was a good idea. There were six of us in the tent, and two camp counselors who helped us put the act together. Rachel, Claire, and I split into one little group, and the other three girls, Molly, Amanda, and Olivia, split into another. We were to parody snippets of two songs each, and then come together to sing one.
I don’t recall our thought process of naming our groups. The question probably was: What two things are good on their own, but better together?
Pork chops and peas.
Pork chops and peas?? This is what we decided?? We thought this was a good idea!!
Ok, well, that’s what happened. Molly, Amanda, and Olivia were the peas. Molly was the green pea. Amanda was the snow pea. Olivia was the black eyed pea. Rachel, Claire and I were the chops. Rachel was the lamb chop. Claire was the beef chop (is that even a thing? We didn’t know.) And I was the pork chop.
Nobody stopped us at this point.
The Chops took basic songs from the earlier suggestions, like the “YMCA” song by The Village People and “Oops, I Did it Again by Britney Spears”. For the finale, we all decided on “The Tide is High- Get the Feeling” by Atomic Kitten.
Except “YMCA” turned into “CHOPS”.
“Oops, I Did it Again” became “Oops, I Ate it Again”.
And “The Tide is High- Get the Feeling” turned into “The Chops are Fly- The Peas are Peeling”.
We rehearsed the songs so we knew them backwards and forwards. We arranged choreography. We made costumes. The Peas dressed in all green, with green painted paper plates on their heads for “fashionable” hats. The Chops wore ensembles of brown and red and pink, like meat at varying stages of being cooked.
Still, nobody stopped us.
When the night finally came, and our turn was up after some painfully ordinary acts, we stood on stage and realized: OUR ACT WAS WEIRD.
The Chops were first, and Rachel, Claire, and I did our little ditty of an introduction while the rest of the campers sat in the audience, probably afraid.
“We’re The Chops! Pork Chop, Lamb Chop, Beef Chop, Chops!”
After this, we were supposed to sing “Oops, I Ate it Again”. But nobody sang. Was it stage fright? Was it the realization that what we were doing was absurd? Did everyone simultaneously diarrhea in their pants? Probably all three. But somehow, I knew this was my responsibility. So I was the first to sing.
“Oops, I ate it again. I made you believe. That I was full. Oh, baby choppy!”
After I got going, my team joined in. We weren’t afraid anymore. We were committed.
We did CHOPS while flailing our arms in the air, trying to form the letters.
The Peas went next, and I honestly can’t remember their parodies. I’d like to think that they did “MmmPeas” instead of The Hanson’s “MmmBop”, but there no way of knowing for sure.
The crowd cheered. They laughed with us. We weren’t weird, we were funny!
They went nuts after our two groups came together and sang, “The Chops are fly and we’re moving up. The Peas will be your number one! Nummmmber Oneeee!” We held hands and bowed.
The applause-o-meter (a camp counselor twirling a broomstick) went nuts. I was sure we were going to win!
Then another tent went. Their camp counselor was the pretty, blond Brittany. She participated in their rendition of the Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out”, and gave us a slightly pornographic performance while dressed as dalmatian dogs. The guy counselors went nuts, and sent the applause-o-meter flying.
Hormones put us in second place.
I have yet to endure a greater injustice.