I remember very little from Grout Camp.
I guess I should qualify that … I remember very little about grouting from Grout Camp. I don’t think it was the fault of the counselors or the camp’s methods/teaching philosophy; on the contrary, several of my campmates flourished in that environment and have gone on to be quite successful in the tiling world (Georgie Hammacher, for example, revolutionized the industry with his development of a 2-part polymer glaze with a substantially longer cure time than had previously existed, allowing rooms of up to 300 sq. feet to be completed with a single mixing. As I recall, Georgie excelled in all of the camp competitions, and eventually won the coveted title of “Sir Amic.” Yeah, cheesy, I know, but hell, it was Grout Camp. We were 12, ok?).
No, I think the cause of my lack of tilic knowledge retention was twofold: First, even at that tender age, I had already developed the foundations of what has since become a paranoia-driven second-guessing of the motives of others. I mean, who sends their kid to Grout Camp? Parents who are privy to the results of those IQ tests they give in 6th grade, and who are anxious to have their child gain blue-collar, physical-labor skills, knowing that any career path requiring mental capacities beyond those of a house plant* was not to be ventured down by THAT low-functioning idiot-sans-savant, that’s who. I may have been a little preoccupied with that during the sessions. As it turns out, they were just a little late in getting the Summer Activities calendar, and all of the other camps were full. So yes, my suspicions proved wrong, as they always do, but still, this is indicative of less-than-fully-dedicated parenting, and I blame them for the aforementioned paranoia-driven second-guessing that has strained and eventually shattered every relationship in which I’ve been involved.
The second reason is the early development of Dixie Deetmeyer. I mean, those things were massive (from the perspective of a 12-year-old), and Dixie, also blessed with an underdeveloped sense of modesty, would occasionally display her … developments, let’s say … behind the boathouse. I don’t know exactly what the memory capacity of the human brain is at that age, but I’m pretty sure that The Dixies took up most of it, leaving little room for considerations of the effect of relative humidity on the lifespan of tinted Portland cement. (In retrospect, it makes sense that Georgie Hammacher seemed immune to Dixie’s distractions. He was one of the biggest donors to the “No On Prop Hate” campaign in California last year, and Georgie, if you’re reading this, I’ll be down there knocking on doors when there’s another opportunity to end the inequality. Fuck the haters.)
Anyway, I relate all of this because I attempted some grouting last night for the first time since those glorious days at Camp Mix-A-Morta. Some things did come flooding back to me … for example, I remembered the hard’n’fast rule that groutin’ music has to be twangy, and with the help of Dwight Yoakam, I seemed to get quite a bit done without screwing it up too much. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped, though, as trying to track down Dixie Deetmeyer on the googlewebs turned out to be way more time consuming than I would have thought.
* This is not to say that professions that require physical labor are less mentally demanding than those that don't; it's just that my parents thought me dumber'n a fence post, and it was a long time ago, when such misperceptions were more common.
8 months ago