They say that every cloud has a silver lining. They also say that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. This is true. As a teenager, I once was in this situation and turned it to my full and complete advantage.
One day, when I was thirteen years old, I got permission from my parents to spend the night with a friend. Chuck lived seven miles away, so I hopped on my Huffy ten-speed, tied my bb gun to the frame, and peddled away to his house.
One the way there, I started feeling ill. After I got to his house, I started throwing up and getting feverish. Mrs. Howley called my mother and my parents came, put my bike in the back of their station wagon, and took me home.
The next morning, my mom took me to the doctor. He immediately called a surgeon and sent me to the hospital. Within an hour, I was in the operating room and gave birth to a bouncing baby appendix.
The doctors said that if my bike ride had been ten miles, my appendix probably would have ruptured and I could have died on the side of a highway.
My initial recovery was not fun. The hospital food sucked. I could not stand up straight. It caused terrible pain to laugh or cough. I could not beat up on my younger brothers and sister because they could now run faster than me. I was not allowed to get into the swimming pool. I was also not allowed to drink any soda for six weeks (okay, so maybe the doctors were a little overly cautious in 1974). I also had the surgery in July, so I didn't even get to miss any school.
My mother was scheduled to work that summer as one of the big wigs at a church camp for young women from our church. The twelve through eighteen year old girls from El Paso, Texas and all of southern New Mexico were scheduled to go to a church owned campsite just a week after my getting out of the hospital. There were going to be hundreds of young ladies there and only one man (my dad, who was supposed to be the large, dominating male presence who would single handedly keep roving gangs of Hells Angels from bothering the sweet young things).
Like everyone's mom, mine was somewhat overprotective. She was not going to leave her baby for someone else to watch during his recovery. She also was not in a position to get out of going to the camp. A compromise had to be made somewhere: I went to camp.
They set up our tent beside the main girls' camp. That way, Mom could come and check on me between classes, hikes, outings, meals, or whatever. I would be close enough to watch and be under her strict supervision and miraculous healing powers.
A strange thing happened. I was the only teenage boy in over twenty miles. I was also recovering from surgery and was ill. These two factors made me the little, lost, cute puppy to hundreds of girls and made me into a chick magnet.
They brought me food. They brought me drinks (even the ones I wasn't supposed to have). They helped me (one or two on each arm) to the bathroom or the showers. They brought and showed me their craft projects, and even made some for me. They checked up on me willingly for my mother. They fed my small campfire and brought me all the wood I could ever need. I just layed on my small camp cot or sat in my lawnchair and let them come to me.
They were told that I was supposed to walk, so they helped me on my walks (again, at least one on each arm). They took me through the camp and showed me their decorated trees. What did they decorate them with? Ever day, the older girls would take the bras and panties of the "first years", twelve year olds, and throw them up into the ponderosa pines and aspens that filled the woods of the camp.
Now, for a thirteen year old boy, just the sight of lacey girls' underthings, whether or not they were in use, is a turn on all by itself. It stirs the imagination and turns up the heat in the furnace. You suddenly see the owners in a slightly different light. I saw an entire forest decorated with these things. It made me love the great outdoors!
Now, I could have walked to the bathroom all by myself without any support or help...but...get real! The ice chest was only a few feet away and I could have gotten my own food. Yeah...right! I took full and complete advantage of the situation. What hormonally driven teenage boy wouldn't?
Another advantage was that I did not have to take any responsibility for my younger brothers or sister. As I was recovering, my eleven year old brother was assigned to watch over and take care of them. I had no babysitting duties at all!
After going through some horrible and intense pain, I experienced one of the greatest weeks of my life. Hundreds of girls were at my beck and call, and all of them knew my name and would help in a heartbeat. I was not a fool. I milked the situation for every ounce of sympathy that I could possibly get!
After the week, I went home again and was soon just another guy. I'll even bet that, once school begin a month or so later, most of those girls had even forgotten my name. For one brief, small, shining moment, however, I was heaven.
Dark clouds really do have silver linings and you can make lemonade out of life's lemons. I found this out for myself in a campsite in the mountains of New Mexico.