Sunday, February 22, 2009

Big Brown Eyes

The summer after college I worked as a day camp counselor at the SF Jewish Community Center. I had about a dozen seven and eight year olds in my charge from 930am until 330pm every weekday, with a two-night overnight in the middle week of each session. I worked with a Junior Counselor and a Counselor in Training, whom I supervised/trained. I designed half-hour activity sessions, planned around activity level, travel time, and scheduling around other counselors' equipment desires ("If we can have the parachute in the 10am "thirty", we go to swimming and then you can have it at 1030"). I also taught swimming. I wrote reports on each camper each week, and performance reviews for the JC and CIT at the end of each session. I was also the Hokey Pokey Queen and could lead the whole camp in it for hours: "Put your right thumb in, put your right thumb out..."

I was seventeen and "earned" $100 a week for my efforts. I had almost no idea what I was doing.

My JC was a 15 year old going into her junior year. The Moon was the very savvy daughter of artists who tolerated no bullshit. She had huge brown eyes that would look deeply into your heart if you weren't telling the truth, or, more specifically, the whole truth. Besides working together, we hung out during our precious away-from-camp hours. When The Moon spent the night at my house that summer, she insisted on sleeping in the bed and not on the floor in a sleeping bag, and it became a "Who's more stubborn?" thing. We both wound up sleeping in my bed, which at the time I thought was the weirdest thing.

When I came home for winter break my first year at college, The Moon had won tickets on the radio to a Buddy Guy "early" show at The Fillmore for New Year's Eve and she invited me to go with her. I didn't know who Buddy Guy was, but I liked the blues in a general sort of way, I'd never been to The Fillmore, and it sounded much better than watching TV at home.

I really enjoyed the music. We wound attending both the 9pm and the 11pm shows because partway through the show we had tickets for, there was some problem with the electricity onstage and Buddy Guy couldn't play. It was worked out with the venue that everyone at the early show could stay for the late show. What I remember the most from that night happened in the lobby while they were trying to fix the electricity. The Moon and I were looking around and a man started talking to me. I had just turned 18 three months before, and The Moon was probably 16. Of course he was older than we were (we were probably among the youngest people at the show), and when he asked how old I was, I said, "Almost nineteen." My judgment to respond this way was, of course, due to the fact that I was still basically 17.

The Moon turned her big eyes on me, blinked once, and said, "You just turned 18."

I don't remember being mad at her for doing this. I remember thinking, and still think now, that The Moon was saving me from my own poor judgment. Even though I haven't seen The Moon since that time, whenever I tell a half-truth or lie by omission, especially when I doubt my judgment about why I'm doing so, I always think of The Moon's big brown eyes.

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