I am having a great time at zinger camp

Dear Mom and Dad,

Just wanted to write you a letter to let you know that after a bit of a rough start, I am having a great time at zinger camp.

I’m so glad you sent me here instead of sailing camp — not that you could have afforded it.

On our first day, they split us into squads. I was lucky, because I could tell right away that my squad had a lot of unpopular kids.

Before heading to our cabins, we went to the dining hall for lunch. We were tired from the bus ride from the city, but we were also very excited to have arrived. We sat down at the picnic tables and sang a few camp songs that we had learned on the ride, while we waited for our food. A few kids told standard jokes and others tried zingers. All in all, there was a lot of heckling.

When one kid got up on a picnic table to do an impression of the bus driver, I yelled out, “Nice cargo shorts, buddy! What have you got in the pockets — toilet paper?”

A couple people laughed, but then the kid on the table yelled back, “No, your mom’s phone number!”

Everyone in the dining hall laughed and said, “Oooooh!” and stared at me, waiting for me to zing him back, but I had nothing.

I thought it couldn’t get any worse — but then they served lunch.

I looked at my plate and I thought, “Umm, am I at pig camp? Because this food looks like it should be served out of a trough.”

But I didn’t say it out loud, because I was afraid my squad wouldn’t laugh at me.

We choked down the slop and we all thought, ‘Phew, we survived that awful lunch and now we can enjoy the rest of our day laughing at each other’s expense.’

Then they served dessert.

It was banana pudding, and I was like, “What part of the banana died to make this?”

That got a few courtesy chuckles, but no belly laughs, which made me feel even worse.

Then we met our squad leader, Big Mike. When he introduced himself, my squad-mate Sam said, “More like ‘Big Mac’!” because it looks like Big Mike spends a lot of time at the drive-thru.

The squad burst out laughing, making my earlier joke seem even less funny. I wanted to curl up and die.

That night we watched a movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I was really self-conscious about my unfunny zingers from earlier, so I didn’t yell at the screen a single time, even though Brad Pitt was in it, so there was lots to make fun of. Practically every scene.

I was miserable, and ready to call you to come and get me.

That night as I lay in my bunk, almost crying, Big Mike came over and sat down on my bed. Like me, Big Mike has a bottom bunk, due to his huge stomach.

He said he knew I was trying real hard to be funny, but that I shouldn’t force it. I should just relax and let the jeers come naturally.

His talk made me feel better.

I smiled and said, “Thanks, Big Mike. And thanks even more for not sitting on me. Because I probably would’ve broken a few bones.”

To my surprise, a few guys around my bunk heard my zing, and they laughed. And one of them said, “Good one!”

I slept well that night.

The next day Big Mike took us for a forest walk, looking for insects and pinecones and other things to insult.

This one kid, Judah, was wearing mosquito netting over his whole face, and when I saw him I didn’t even think, I just said, “Hey, big improvement. Did your mom give you that — at birth?”

Everyone in the whole squad laughed, even Judah. The perfect zing!

That night I was named Squad Zinger Captain, which means I get to go first at the campfire roast of Big Mike tomorrow. I’m working on a line about him drinking barbecue sauce.

Anyway, I’m having a great time now. I’ve met so many mean friends for life.

Lots of love,

Your son

P.S. Thinking of you guys often. Especially dad — when I walk past the outhouse. ♦

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