At school’s end in the 1960s, tents bloomed in backyards like roses. Kathy, Debbie, and I couldn’t wait.
Safety didn’t concern our mothers. Still, yakkety phone calls ensued before we extracted unanimous permission.
We campers stocked up on penny gum and Pixie Stix® at Charlie’s general store. If rich, we bought enough candy bars to ensure membership in the more-cavity group on Crest® Toothpaste commercials.
Lacking sleeping bags, we dragged old blankets and pillows to my saggy tent.
“Don’t knock down the poles,” Kathy warned.
We ate 17 pieces of bubble gum each and read Bazooka Joe fortunes aloud. Debbie had confiscated her older sister’s teen magazine. Which Beatle was the cutest? This cosmic question kept us arguing and giggling until darkness fell.
According to reliable sources, Gary and Tim were camping that night in Gary’s backyard. Younger than us, Tim was beneath our notice. Kathy and Debbie considered Gary icky, but no other boys on our block were outside. The so-called lack of prime victims didn’t bother me. I’d never told my friends I liked Gary’s cute smile.
We sneaked out, careful not to topple poles. Creeping through several other yards, we halted behind lilacs near Gary’s house. We made it!
But we’d forgotten to bring Crazy Foam. Or squirt guns.
“Pound on their tent,” Kathy urged.
Except … no tent.
Gary’s sister had revealed his campout tonight. How dare he mess up our plans?
I didn’t like his dumb smile anymore.
Then wild, still-soprano yells erupted.
I rocketed through darkness. Where were my girlfriends? The boys — probably well-equipped with Crazy Foam — would attack our tent.
Something sliced my throat!
I stumbled into our tent. In mistaken self-defense, Debbie and Kathy clobbered me. We knocked down poles. Entangled in canvas, we awaited Crazy Foam explosions and buckets of water.
Nothing. No one.
Perhaps the boys feared we would report them to their parents.
Propping up the tent, we tried to regain our bravado. Kathy told about the Man with the Golden Hook. Though I’d heard the tale a million times, scary scratching on our tent kept me edgy all night.
Also, Debbie had eaten beans for supper.
We couldn’t open the window because the Man with the Golden Hook would get us.
My friends nodded off, but my neck hurt. If only I could slip through my house’s unlocked door … But then, I’d have to explain my injury and betray our raid.
Finally, I slept.
Kathy and Debbie left early. Mom, unaware of my wound, insisted I clean up our mess.
I considered swearing off backyard camping forever.
At least, until tomorrow night.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did you conduct backyard campout raids?