It was the summer of 1990, I was fifteen, and I was in love. We’d been together for about a year. Our friend Kay hatched an ingenious plan, the teenage equivalent of a Ponzi scheme really. Everybody told their parents that they were going to a friend’s cottage (TRUE). Everybody said parents would be there (FALSE). The Arthur Andersen worthy ways in which we pulled off this scam would have made the smartest guys in the room at Enron beam with pride. But I’ll spare you the details. Suffice it to say that ten of us, all underage, piled into a rickety old van and made our way down to a cottage on Lake Lovering, an hour and a half south of Montreal, where we’d be alone for four days—FOUR DAYS!—without any adult supervision.
Of course what followed was a comedy of errors. First we got lost. A trip that should have taken an hour and a half took almost six hours. Then we ran out of gas just as we pulled into the driveway. Turns out, one of those flashing lights was the gas light. We arrived at the cottage a little before midnight. Exhausted. Hungry. Pissed Off. Badly in need of a good night’s sleep. But that would not come, not for awhile, because of the fleas.
Kay’s mom’s best friend had, we later on discovered, stayed at the cottage the previous weekend with her three, big, flea-infested dogs. She and her dogs had, at some point, gone back to Montreal. But most of the fleas stayed. And they were starving. The fleas started biting soon after we walked into the cottage with our bags and gear. Most of us were bleeding and crazed before long. Took us an hour to find some Raid. Another hour or two to kill them all. That first night was terrible. Didn’t get to sleep until three or four in the morning.
The following morning we realized that we hadn’t brought nearly enough food. We realized, as well, that we’d forgotten to pick up some beer (a shocking oversight, all things considered). Had to get gas too. We knew we were going to have to walk into town. But Kay assured us that it wasn’t far. Maybe an hour. Turns out, it was more like two. It was an altogether gendered division of labor: the girls stayed at the cottage to clean up whilst the guys trekked into town to get supplies. Took us about two hours to get there and—since we were now heavy-laden with food, gas, and cases of two-four—about three hours to get back.
The girls had gone wild while we were gone. First they helped themselves to Kay’s mom’s private stash of wine coolers. Then they decided to go skinny dipping in Lake Lovering. We arrived, shirtless and sweaty, upon a scene straight out of Homer. It was paradise: laughing mermaids frolicking in the midday sun. My girlfriend and I did it later on that day. It was her first time. My first time too. And we were so in love. So in love on Lake Lovering.
But then everything went to shit. Our parents found out where we were (somehow). On Sunday, a posse of pissed-off parental lawmakers piled into a Pontiac, got on the highway, and made their way south: to bring justice to the Eastern Townships. We didn’t see them coming. Didn’t hear them coming either. Because we were blasting our music. Because we were wasted. Because we were dancing around outside, frolicking in the sunshine half-naked in a place outside of time, a place that felt like heaven.
The parents arrived, fuming and furious, upon a decadent scene straight out of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. They quickly transformed it into a dreadful scene straight out of Dante’s Inferno. I remember thinking: this is it: this is the worst moment of my life. But it wasn’t. Not even close. The bad memories faded long ago. All I remember now is the play of the sun on the water, the laughter of the mermaids, and the smell of my girlfriend’s perfume. It was beautiful: Estée Lauder’s Beautiful.
—John Faithful Hamer, The Myth of the Fuckbuddy (2017)