It was the summer of ’81

The sports camp is about to end. We’ve had a week of fun, a week of cracking jokes in the dark when we were supposed to be sleeping, and getting ready for the sports activities we’ll be doing the next day. It’s always the same guys, too, with the same jokes, but they’re kind of funny, and I’m the new kid anyway, so I’ll just lie on my mattress and listen. And giggle.


What I don’t know is that I’m actually (not) sleeping in the French class. I will learn that, though, in about two years when the building that now is just another building in a city that’s not my own – because we’ve moved here just three weeks ago – becomes my high school, with all my buddies, and all my and their heartaches, and laughs, and worries, and acts of rebellion.

There’s a sign on the wall, though, that says, “the longer the word in French, the shorter the actual pronunciation” which makes me think that I might be sleeping in what usually is a French classroom. The building seems so big, the stairs so long, and the photos on the walls so serious.

I just try to sleep through the jokes and the laughing. The next day, there will be a disco downstairs, in a room called “the mirror hall”. It’s like a small gymnasium, without any of the sports equipment.

In four years, I will be dancing there, with a beautiful young lady on my arm, and I will be wearing a tailcoat, white gloves, and a white scarf. Somehow I will be able to pull it off, even though, it’s the girl who has to ask me to be her partner, and I only fix the tailcoat a few days before the dance. But I will practice the dances so well that I could still do them 25 years later.

But in the disco that will mark the end of the sports camp, a local hockey hero turned DJ plays a song that somehow gets to me. Maybe I have a crush on somebody at the camp, maybe I have a crush on somebody at my old school, or maybe it’s just the guitar, and the vocals, maybe it’s the move, but I stand in the middle of the small gymnasium, listening to the song, mesmerized, while my new best buddy is dancing with a girl he has a crush on.

I’m 13 years old. And I surrender.

I surrender
I’m giving up the role of pretender
oh be tender, girl be tender
can’t you feel the love that I send you
I surrender

How does that make you feel?