We all have crosses to bear. Mine are typos. It seems as though they show up in everything I write, compromising my perceived intelligence like an extra chromosome. In this blog, I at least have the luxury of going back and fixing my mistakes after the fact. The problem is that I’m on a mailing list as well. There my errors are as uncorrectable as stupidities committed in real life.Since the reason I write is for ego gratification, this pains me. I don’t like it when things pain me. I want everything to be peachy. Failing that, I’d like the pain (and if possible, the typos) to be explained away by some traumatic experience from my past. It’s not my fault, you see. Mom used to beat me with a wire hanger.There’s the rub. Mom never did any such thing. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had any traumatic experiences in my entire life. When other people bring up theirs, I usually try to change the subject to one where I can show how clever I am.
No matter. Since I don’t have any personal traumas, I’ll just have to invent one.
About 25 years ago, I worked as a counselor at one of those summer camps Paul Newman set up for children with cancer. I didn’t see Newman the whole time I was there. He had done his photo op before my arrival and if he’s like most people, he wanted what was best for the kids but didn’t want to have to look at them for too long. I can’t say I blame him. That had to be the most depressing two and a half months of my life.
There was a silver lining however in the form of one of the campers. Her name was Tina. Tina had developed early, as they say. Not a hair on her head but let me tell you, that girl was rackalicious. I was in love.
The only problem was that I couldn’t be sure if she had matured emotionally on a par with how she had physically. Putting the moves on her and freaking her out would be a bad deal for all parties involved. Fortunately, I had a plan to test the waters. What this entailed was leaving her a little note anonymously expressing some carnal interest. If she ran screaming to one of the other counselors, I’d deny everything if asked and let the whole matter slide. If, on the other hand, she spent the whole next day with a sly smirk on her face, then all systems were go.
My handwriting was pretty recognizable at the time (A’s with circles around them, i’s dotted with skulls) so I had to sneak into the admin office and use the typewriter when no one was looking. So that night during Vespers, I slipped away to compose the note. Time was short. I quickly typed up the message and put it under her pillow before she returned to her bunkhouse.
I had anticipated that she might take the note to a counselor. What I had not anticipated was what happened next.
I was having lunch in the cafeteria the following day, surrounded by scores of children and their malignancies but thinking only of Tina. The camp director came in. Her hand went up. The mouths went shut.
“One of you,” she said. “Has been using the office typewriter to send vulgar notes to a fellow camper. First of all, the office is off limits. Second, we don’t like profanity here. At least I think it was profanity. Do you want to know what the note said?”
There was a cheer of assent from camper and counselor alike.
“‘Let’s fick.’ Yes, with an ‘i.’ Whoever wrote this really needs to learn how to spell.”
The entire cafeteria, including Tina, erupted with laughter. I made it a point to laugh along with them but like a clown in some stupid French movie, I was crying inside.
I really appreciate all of you who took the time to read this. You’ve helped me grow, you know, as a person.