23 January 2012

The Three Amigos... and Me

Although I prefer fantasy, sometimes I write a story that is more true to life. The following is based on an experience I had one summer at a camp I where I volunteered.

The Three Amigos... and Me

"Hey, guys, I have an idea," Sara proclaimed.

"What is it?" Tyler asked.

We were walking up the hill from the barn toward the dining hall for lunch. Sara, Tyler, and Lucy were, as usual, several steps ahead of me since I found it difficult to keep up.

"You know how the Three Amigos do that little dance?" Sara continued.

"Yeah!" Lucy and Tyler chorused. The three of them proceeded to demonstrate the dance, which consisted of a series of simple movements reminiscent of the Macarena, ending with a forward thrust of the hips.

I watched, bemused. Just after the four of us had been assigned to work in the barn three weeks ago, the three of them had discovered a mutual love of the Three Amigos. They were constantly singing the theme song and discussing things the three heroes had done. I was confused; I'd never heard of the Amigos before this summer, and I was still unsure who or what they were.

Giggling, Sara said, "Let's do that in front of everybody at lunch."

"Yes, let's!" Lucy agreed.

Tyler was a little less enthusiastic. "I don't think Dan would appreciate the hip thrust at the end," he warned.

Tyler was the most mature of the three amigos, a fact which surprised me. I was rather sexist, and therefore expected females to outdo males-especially when it came to maturity.

"Let's change it," Tyler suggested. "Instead of a hip thrust, let's pretend to draw a couple of six-guns." He mimed a quick draw with both hands, pointing his invisible guns at the air before him.

"Great idea," Lucy said.

"Yes, I like it," Sara agreed.

We continued up the hill while the amigos practiced their adapted dance. Their joy would have been infectious if it hadn't been so exclusive. There were only three amigos.

Like the Three Musketeers, the Three Amigos stuck together. Unlike the Three Musketeers, the Three Amigos had no room for a fourth member. While D'Artagnan was accepted by the Musketeers, I would never be an amigo.

Tears stung my eyes as I trudged behind my co-workers. I could accept that they would never be my friends, but there was more: I often found myself doing their work as well as my own.

Yesterday evening while I was unsaddling horses, I realized that Lucy, Sara, and Tyler were sitting on the haystack, talking. Unsure if they were aware that I was doing their work, I openly carried a saddle past them. They didn't react.

I had stripped almost half the horses in the barn when Monica, the Horsemanship Coordinator, arrived. Seeing her approach, the amigos quickly began to untack horses. I was so angry I could hardly breathe. "God, help me," I whispered through my tears.

Monica believed the industrious act, and the amigos continued on their merry way. Judging from their behaviour today, they felt no remorse. However, it was hard for me to be angry with them-impossible, in fact. It just wasn't in me to hold a grudge.

"Ready, guys?" Sara stood just outside of the dining hall, a questioning look on her face.

"We're ready!" Lucy and Tyler chorused.

The three amigos entered the building, singing their silly theme song. Pausing where everyone could see them, they performed their dance with a flourish. Laughter and applause rewarded them. I clapped along with the others, and then followed the amigos to the washrooms to clean away the barn dirt.

In the bathroom, Lucy said, "Esther, that was great the way you handled Dandy today. When she started bucking, I thought it was all over."

"It was scary," I admitted. "I really thought I was going to fall off."

"You did good," Sara assured me.

I shook my head in confusion. I could not understand these people I worked with. They could be so nice, yet they were often cruel. They were so talented with horses, yet they were often clueless when it came to other people's feelings.

As I had been sexist, I had also been Christocentric. I had expected Christians to be kind and caring-all the time.

Three days ago, while we were preparing to take a group of kids on a trail ride, we had been in the arena with the horses tied up along the fence. The three amigos were sitting on top of the fence when the kids arrived. I greeted the young riders, and directed them to stand next to their horses. I then began to help them mount.

"We should help," I heard Tyler say.

"Nah," Lucy replied. "Esther's got it under control."

I helped twenty campers to mount. It was exhausting.

Lucy slid off the fence nonchalantly. "Okay, kids," she called, "let's ride!" She picked out the best staff horse for herself and led the group out onto the trails.

"You can ride drag on this one," Sara told me. "Take Murphy."

Gee, thanks, I thought. Murphy was the ugliest horse in the barn and the most uncomfortable to ride. I loved horses, but I hated riding Murphy. With a sigh, I mounted and submitted to Murphy's bouncing and jostling. That was a trail ride I would love to forget.

"Hey, Esther! Sara!" Lucy called as she left the washrooms. "Let's eat!"

I followed the other girls out to the eating area. As I approached the table where my cabin was seated, I realized that there were no empty chairs. The counselor's boyfriend was sitting in my seat.

"Hi, Esther!" Nickie, my senior counselor said. "I invited Luke to sit with me today. I hope you don't mind."

"No, I don't mind," I lied. I loved sitting with the kids at meals; it wasn't as if I had any time to spend with them otherwise.

As I walked across the room, I wondered, Why wasn't Luke sitting with his cabin? Then I saw that Luke's assistant was supervising their campers, a job that wasn't his responsibility since he wasn't the senior counselor. He looked exhausted and stressed from his busy morning teaching archery. The eleven campers currently besieging him with demands for more pizza buns and Kool-Aid were adding to his mental condition. He didn't have time for luxuries like lunch dates.

I found an empty seat at a staff table. I was getting sick and tired of the "fun" of summer camp. I couldn't wait to go home.

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