When I saw the pamphlet for Dave Cowens' Basketball Clinic Camp, I didn't understand why I was looking at it.
"This'll be good f'you!" My grandmother's Southie syntax flopped along with her strange lopsided hair nest, screaming mental illness more than a politician's sales pitch. There were prices on the brochure that we couldn't afford even if it was something I wanted to do. The summer was fine. I had my Nintendo, my books. I didn't have any friends, but I didn't want any. Boys were confusing. Boys who had Dads, even more so. I could stay home.
"Your motha' needs a break. I was friends with Dave Cowens for a long time. He helped me on the Council of Cerebral Palsy, and he can help you with your basketball." My basketball? Her words quietly hummed the boy needs a father.
"Look at all the things you can learn!" She prodded the pamphlet at me. "You'll change your mind once you're there."
I went upstairs to play Nintendo.
"You're going!" I heard from below.
Paused in my bedroom doorway, I looked down at the new egg on the heating duct. I wondered if the baby chick would have the regular yellow fluffy down, or if it would be black, or red. I would love it no matter what.
I didn't want to get out of the car at Wheaton College. I cried, but I didn't want to cause problems. I avoided conflict with Mom.
I found a game room at the camp. I played the free cabinet arcade games between meals. I avoided the other boys at all costs. I had nothing in common with them. At several points, I wondered if Grandma thought Dave Cowens would pick me up like a Dickensian street urchin and adopt me, or fall in love with my mother, or even remember grandma. Still, it was my mission to get the other boys and counselors to ignore the clumsy, sportless, dirty-faced boy, and I was happy.
My mother came to pick me up on the last day. I was smiling.
"How was it?! I told you it was fine once you started and made some friends!"
"No." I smiled because we were leaving.
We drove home in silence.