This blog post is dedicated to my good friend Jon Coleman. He was the sound technician here at Lake Ann for the past several years, and we had a lot of amazing adventures together, not the least of which was the day that I tried to hit him with fruit and failed hard. Here’s to you, Jon. I’ll miss you this year, and I hope you have an amazing summer. Oh, and watch your back; I won’t miss next time.
The situation was perfect. There was Jon Coleman, his careless blond hair clean and dry, just waiting to be spattered with watermelon juice. I had just finished eating a slice of watermelon, and the dripping rind was waiting anxiously in my hand, like a daredevil ready to risk his life for his audience. Jon was driving a dull red golf cart, he called it the Red Dragon, and he parked it just within watermelon range, looking obliviously in the other direction. The black metal grate behind his head would shred the tattered, pink flesh that remained on the rind into tiny, sticky pieces, and those pieces would have nowhere to go but all over his head.
I checked the direction of the wind, hefted the rind in my hand to get an idea of its mass, tilted my head and squinted my eyes in an effort to gauge my trajectory. All of my summer camp coworkers at the picnic table nodded and smiled, half of them watching me so they wouldn’t miss the throw, the others focused on the back of Jon’s head, already imagining the beautiful mess it would be when my melon exploded. I stretched my arm behind me as far as it would go, took in a deep breath, and hurled the rind with Herculean might at my unsuspecting target.
I’m not sure when the junior higher with the pink ball cap walked up to the Red Dragon and struck up a conversation with Jon, but I do know that he was right there, two feet to the left of the intended splatter zone, when the fruity missile smacked the hat right off of his head. The boy was shocked, but I was absolutely terrified. Camp training had planted a holy fear of lawsuits deep inside of me. All of the leaders and directors reminded us regularly not to touch the campers the wrong way, talk to them the wrong way, even look at them the wrong way. I had just pummeled one with a hunk of fruit, and I was pretty sure that “I was trying to pummel someone else, your honor” wouldn’t fly in court.
At first, my fear was content to manifest itself in a chill in the middle of my spine. As long as I could avoid detection by the boy with the pink hat I would be just fine. Nothing to freak out about. As he turned towards my picnic table and began to walk, my adrenaline kicked in. My face was burning, my extremities were all trembling like the figurines on an electric football table, and I covered my eyes with my hands.
I could tell by the looks on my friends’ faces that even if the boy didn’t already know I had been responsible for his messy uncapping he soon would, so when he approached our table, held up the condemning green crescent, and demanded, “Who threw this?” I confessed. He stared at me with an unreadable expression just long enough for several disastrous scenarios to play out in my mind, most of them ending with a newspaper headline reading “Camp Shut Down Due to Watermelon-Related Child Abuse.” “I’m sorry,” I managed to squeak. I think he heard me over the laughter of the spectators, because the slightest smile lifted his eyes, he shook his head in mock reproof, and he dropped the rind and walked away.
Thankfully, I never heard from that boy again. The camp is still running, I’m still allowed to work there, and Jon Coleman is still my friend. I even got a great “most embarrassing moment” story out of the deal. I did lose one thing as a result of that encounter, however. To this day I can’t bring myself to wear a pink hat.