Once you get to know me, it’s pretty obvious that I have an (over) active imagination. It comes in handy when my daughter would like a story, but most of the time it can be annoying. It sometimes runs away and creates intricate situations which I describe in my mind so well that they seem suddenly plausible (they usually aren’t). Sometimes it’s the normal fear every father experiences when contemplating unlikely scenarios with his family, but other times my imagination goes into hyperdrive and causes issues.
One good example came my first year attending Teen Week at Lylewood. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I still hadn’t completely recovered from the social shock of starting high school and I felt more out of place than I usually did. I was the smallest guy in my cabin, not good at sports, and had no luck with girls. All of this made me a prime target of ridicule. I thought that changed on Wednesday morning.
We returned to our cabin after lunch and before swim time. I saw a small note which had been set on my pillow. I figured it was another joke on me until I read it.
I really want to talk to you, but I can’t get the courage. I think you are very cute and I like you. I wanted you to know even though I can’t tell you.
– Your Secret Admirer
P.S. I like your muscles. I wish you would wear a muscle shirt for me.
I obviously should have still thought it was a joke on me because there were just too many holes. Girls weren’t allowed on the guys’ side of camp so how could she have put it there? My Imagination stepped in. Obviously she got a guy to do it for her. Soon, I was completely convinced it was from a girl, and had to be real because each lowercase “i” was dotted with a little heart. Not only was it real, but it provided a way I could discover her identity. I just had to wear a muscle shirt and I would carefully pay attention to which girl actually seemed pleased. The only problem was I hadn’t packed a muscle shirt (most likely because I wasn’t muscular).
I started asking everyone in the cabin if they had a muscle shirt I could borrow. They were eager to help, which should have triggered suspicion, but My Imagination made sure I was paying little attention to the present. That evening the boys were supposed to serve the girls during supper and I knew how it would go. I would wear a muscle shirt and pick the girl I thought wrote the note to serve. During the meal, she would ask for a refill and our fingers would brush as she handed me her glass. At that moment she would exclaim, “I can’t hide it any longer! I wrote you the note!” Then she would stand and throw her arms around me as the dining hall exploded into applause (it didn’t have to start with a slow clap, but that would be awesome). How could it possibly go any other way?
Someone found a muscle shirt which was a little too big for me, but was sleeveless so it worked. Th evening came and I proudly wore it. They had the girls go ahead and sit down and then we were supposed to go stand behind the one we would serve for the meal. I scanned the tables and then noticed a girl obviously smiling at me. It had to be her, so I quickly went and stood behind her.
She seemed surprised that I picked her. I figured it was because she was wondering how I knew she wrote it. I was very polite and she kept smiling the entire time. Then the moment came. She held up her glass and asked for a refill and as I took it, our fingertips barely touched. It was actually happening as I imagined it! I got so excited, I went off script a little.
“I know it was you,” I said.
“What was me?”
“The note. I know you wrote the note.”
“You know, the note you had put on my pillow. The one where you told me I was cute and you wanted me to wear a muscle shirt.” She started laughing. Something was wrong here.
“I don’t even know who you are.” This was particularly devastating as there were fewer than fifty campers that week.
I then looked up and saw my cabin laughing. Now I was able to remember how helpful they were with the shirt and how odd it was that someone had one ready. My Imagination had clearly run away with an implausible situation. It had gotten one thing right. The guys in my cabin were clapping as they pointed at me.
I know I contributed somewhat to my embarrassment. I’ve always been a passionate guy and I find it easy to be caught up in an idea. This tendency can be fueled by My Imagination because it provides such a ridiculous level of realistic detail. I think this kind of thing happened to all of us when we were younger. Unfortunately for me, My Imagination continues to plague me still.
In fact, My IMagination caused me almost as much embarrassment (possibly more) at the Post Office when I was 36.
To be continued.