Hey, hey! The gang’s (almost) all here!
(PHOTO BY COMPTON)
It was back to Ohiopyle, PA this year for Johneroo Number 5. It’s the third spent at Scarlet Knob. We approached this with some uncertainty of what to expect now that the list of confirming guests was whittled down to about half of what it was last year. The rumored babies and hounds of hell were no shows. Not much bacon creativity. And even the comically indiscreet camp counselor, Stu, failed to bring around the P-Dogg Astro Van to the 208. The size of the party last year, and it’s consequential calamity and expense put things in question this year. Would there be a Johneroo at all? (I can’t really imagine summer anymore without one!). The Other AC anticipated some sort of incident to mark the Johneroo Apocalypse. But in the end, it turned out to be a surprisingly subtle year — and not just on the campgrounds, but in the town in general — thanks in large part to an exhausting two days of almost non-stop rain. It was the first Johneroo marred by really miserable weather, but there’s talk of reinventing Johneroo as an indoor activity next year. Whatever the incarnation, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the tradition survives. (And perhaps goes beach-side next year? Hint, hint!)
Normally, I rehash these Johneroo weekends by talking about the drive up with The Other AC, but this year, we were both able to bring our Plus Ones, so we made the trip separately. The Other AC also had to break his tradition of sleeping in the car. Lyz borrowed some camping equipment from her roommate and blissfully refused to honor the rain reprieve that Ansu was counting on to return to the comfort of dry sleeping quarters… though he did manage to sneak in a quick nap there on Saturday. Phil, who seems to hate the process of preparing for camping (who doesn’t loathe all that packing and unpacking?), is a bit more high maintenance about it than I am. A few towels and a pillow, and I’ll take the stiffness that comes from two nights of sleeping on the flat ground. But Phil smartly packed the air mattresses and we were lucky that the tent bode well through most of the rain.
We made our way up later than planned on Friday, after putting an hour in for packing up the car, and another hour for stocking up on essentials (cheap booze and burgers!). And still another hour when we stopped at Puccini’s, a lonely Colonial Manor that was damaged by cannon fire in the Civil War and then turned multi-floored restaurant (cheap booze and pizza!) and hotel on the outskirts of downtown Cumberland, MD. And it was surprisingly bustling, considering the haphazard connection of roads leading drivers there from the Interstate. We arrived at the campgrounds just before the sun set completely.
Almost like clockwork, there was the old man and his wife sitting in the campground office/General Store. It’s like a small museum, decorated with Boy Scout badges and old man and his wife were sitting at the desk in the empty general store decorated with Boy Scout badges, numerous framed headshots of a TV cowboy autographed by what must have been either a very grateful or very desperate actor, and plenty of taxidermied wares. When we checked in, Phil asked the man if the collection of small antlers belonged to Jackelopes. The man explained that they belonged to white-tailed deer and his wife, who suddenly chimed in to defend her husband’s hunting skill, pointed to the larger deer heads overhead and asked, “are those small?!” Clearly we hit a nerve. The man added that it took more skill to track and kill smaller deer. I think we both kept it to ourselves how silly it was to kill such a young animal.
As a milestone anniversary year, Johneroo needed something official. It had already started developing into a brand name last year with the Board-of-Tourism styled slideshow that came to us weeks before the trip, and Traci and Marty’s official drink of Johneroo IV: Bacon Vodka, which was christened with a hand-drawn picture of John on the label.My contribution this year arrived in a similar vein: t-shirts!
Amateur Cornhole Champ of Johneroo 2008 and inventor of this year’s Rock Hole, Mrs. C’s shirt bore the slogan It’s called Cornhole, and I happen to be good at it! Although, this kind of lost effect when there wasn’t a Cornhole to be had this year. The logo, too, lost effect when the conversational piece, a pack of Beer 30, was notoriously absent, too!
Wait a minute… what is going on here?!!
The gang was already floating between the ears when we showed up. Even with the miserable weather souring spirits, the first night is always the most bustling. For one thing, folks presumably are rested up and relatively sober before arriving. And, there’s that added thrill of friends not seeing each other in a while, some not since the last Johneroo. It helps that the Other AC brings some interesting liquid cure of social anxieties, since chains of cheap beer alone doesn’t really do it. One year, it was 151, the liquor with the alcoholic proof high enough to either entertain a crowd as a fire breather or leave you momentarily short of breath. Last year, the Weapon of Choice was foul-tasting Absinthe, the leftovers of which became part of a Zombie Juice concoction. Along with it, The Other AC packed a drink fit for French dandies: Chartreuse. Plus, there’s always a few liquor-infused novelties. Last year, in addition to Bacon Vodka, Mrs. C. brought a pricy pack of Whiskey Marshmallows (though I can’t remember if they actually retained any Whiskey flavor). Whipped Lighting was in stock this year, though I’d already sampled this when Awesome Ned unveiled it at McD’s party a few weeks ago. It’s an incredibly bitter whipped creme spray that contains 18% alcohol… so you know we’re just in it for the alcohol.
Traci Chooses the Breakfast of Champions!
(PHOTO BY COMPTON)
The first night usually starts with the formality of introductions when it looks like everyone who’s going to show up will. The trouble with doing this in the middle of the night around the campfire is that it’s a little harder to recognize the newcomers you’ve been introduced to when you meet them in the daylight the next day. Well, at least when there are more than just three, as it was this year. Phil was my recruit and Lyz came with The Other AC. The third Johneroo Virgin was a guy named Adam who seemed a little older than us and had a booming voice. He seemed to share the same nerdy fondness for movies, having chimed in at mention of Human Centipede, saying he hasn’t yet mentally prepared himself to see it (although preparations really aren’t necessary), and he described Quest for Fire as a really creepy movie, making me secretly relieved I never got further than 20 minutes into the movie.
There ain’t no party like a Johneroo party cause a Johneroo party has shirtless men with lights on their hats!
(PHOTO BY LYZ)
It wasn’t long after the ceremonial Jameson was popped open that the rain really kicked up and crashed the party. The brave huddled under the canopies for jubilant drunken revelry that continued into the wee hours of the morning, and then moved over at the neighboring bachelor party when most of Team Johneroo finally fizzled out. Phil and I took refuge in the tent, waiting for the storm to die out so we could get back to the party. But unfortunately, it outlasted us and the last thing I remember was Mrs. C saying that she’d put John to bed. Probably nursing a furious hangover the next morning, he was surprisingly up early with the rest of us, shirtless and unkempt and with a knife in a sheath strapped to his leg, just like a bear hunter.
(To be continued).