I don’t think I’ve ever really felt proud of myself before. Is that what this is? Am I proud? I won the science fair as a freshman. That feels weird to write. Does it matter that I beat out the seniors too?
Even weirder to write.
It’s not so easy for me to say. Maybe this is what narcissism is. Could it be? How could anyone know something like that about themselves?
It’s hard to say if I'm just confusing myself or if I’m actually getting a look at the nature of things. What I can say is that sometimes I don’t know whether the things I think about are good or bad. Useless or useful. Good or evil.
Lately I’ve been thinking about this time from when I was ten. I don’t know why this story comes to mind, but it does and I still feel pretty stupid about the whole thing. It was at the Gifted Students Academy summer camp I went to for a week at the local college. They had us stay in the dorms and we had roommates. Mine taught me how to play two card poker and was from Arkansas.
The second night they had us play this game. It went like this: camp counselors arranged the 150 or so of us kids – age 10 to 13 – and handed each of us a blue blanket. Now that I think about it, the age difference between ten and thirteen is a mf.
The counselors told us all to sit six feet apart and said to cover our full selves with the blanket so we couldn’t see outside of it. They said we were on a desert island and all we had to do was remove one specific item to get off of it. We’d be free to walk outside if we got it right.
“What is that item? Show it to us.”
A series of whispers filled the auditorium. “Are we supposed to take off our clothes?” Some kid said from under a blanket somewhere. Laughter ensued.
“You can begin.”
I looked at my shoes. Were they what kept me on the island? What happened on the island? If there was nothing but sand here, then my shoes might be a hindrance. I took them off and set them outside the blanket.
“It’s not your shoes.” A counselor said from the other side of the room. I heard other kids moan about it too. Good, I thought. I’m not the only one.
Then, as I sat there under the blanket without an idea in the world, I heard, “Yes, that’s right. You are free to leave the island.”
I heard feet shuffle around the carpet surrounding me. A few people had stood up. Gradually, the counselors began to say more of the same thing as more kids left. I took off my socks and put them outside of the blanket.
“It’s not your socks.”
I took off my shirt.
“Not your shirt.”
“Not your shorts.”
I heard more counselors confirm people’s ascension out of the auditorium. Looking down at my underwear, I couldn’t believe it. Everyone else had taken off their underwear? That’s how they got to leave?
I pulled one leg and the other out from my bleached white briefs and set the underwear outside the blanket.
A few laughs from the counselors, and then, “No, not underwear.”
I looked down at my naked, pre-pubescent body and began to cry. A painful, silent cry.
“Okay, it looks like we only have one person left. Any last guesses?”
I felt colder than I’d ever felt. I couldn’t say anything.
“It was the blanket! You didn’t need the blanket.” A counselor walked up to me. “Go ahead and put your clothes back on and we’ll meet you outside with everyone else to play the next game.”
I heard his footsteps fade as I pulled each item of clothing back inside with me. I could barely fit my feet into my socks. I sat under there for some time. Was I so stupid? Of course it was the blanket. Of course.
Fully clothed, with no one left inside the room, I took off the blanket and set it in my lap.
I thought about how I’d never let myself be so stupid ever again.
Anyways, I don't really know how to feel right now. I wish my friend Purple was still here. He'd know what to say. I'm tired.
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