I was aghast. Right there on York Avenue, on a sidewalk swarming with New York Presbyterian Hospital doctors on break and returning campers, I witnessed my “I’ll friend-anyone who talks to me” 10-year-old ‘dis a little redhead boy.
“Savannah, Savannah….I want to get a picture of you with my family,” the kid said, tugging on her jean jacket.
Something about his splash of freckles made him seem so genuine and sweet. Just a kid wanting to introduce his mom to a fellow camper, that’s all. But Savannah’s face was like a sheet of ice as she stared ahead. It wasn’t quite mean girl, but pretty damn close.
I was mortified. “What was all that about?” I asked on the cab ride home.
She played dumb, re-directing the conversation to the craft she made in the camp’s woodshop. The conversation got dropped on the FDR Drive.
Two days later I re-approached the topic. “You were rude to that kid,” I said. “That wasn’t very nice.”
“I wasn’t ruuuude ” she protested. “Mom, he has a crush on me!”
“Mom, he talks like Abraham Lincoln,” she said, doing her impression the 16th President of the United States.
My prodding was the pin to pop the bubble that contained all the camp’s dirty secrets and out flew the name Theo, the boy that had her getting dolled up for the nightly campfires and crafting secret notes.
Her face lit up as she recounted Theo’s swoon-worthy ways, making me simultaneously laugh and melancholy. Where’s the kid who lip syncs to Taylor Swift songs and plays with dolls? The boyfriend talk felt premature. I pegged camp as the passport out of the gritty city, not a kiddie matchmaking service.
“He plays the ukulele,” she gushed.
As if that makes a difference.