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Love and Air-conditioning

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My Guy. And His Friend.
By Kate Christensen

The summer I turned 13, I spent eight weeks at a wilderness camp in upstate New York. We were six boys and six girls. We lived in tents in the woods, ate biodynamic vegetarian food, and sang madrigals around the campfire. There wasn’t a whole lot of time for hanky-panky, but we did our best. I had crushes on two of the boys, Tony and Guy, and they both liked me back. I spent most of my time trying to choose between them, agonizing, actually: Guy was sweet and chubby and gentle; and Tony was more of a dude, if a 13-year-old can be a dude. He was good-looking and funny, anyway. It should have been the easiest decision in the world, but something about Guy got me, probably the fact that he flat-out adored me, whereas Tony was a little player. He liked me, but he also liked Rachel. I talked on and on to my tent-mate Tina about my impossible choice—Guy or Tony? She, meanwhile, was nursing a hopeless crush on David, a badass kid from Wyoming who had coupled up with Cheryl. They were actually having sex. I was flabbergasted by this.

Finally, on an overnight canoe trip, I let Guy kiss me: I had chosen. We were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. This ignited the competitive fury of Tony, unused to losing out to Guy, his best friend. He now pursued me hotly, relentlessly. My agony increased: Suddenly he seemed to adore me as much as Guy did, but he was so much cuter and cooler. But I was Guy’s girlfriend now; I couldn’t dump him. Right?

Finally, camp ended. We all rode the train down to the city together. Guy held my hand the whole way, and Tony sat across the aisle from me, smoldering and bantering. We all said a tearful good-bye in Grand Central, vowing never to forget one another, as kids always do. But I still remember them, and I know they remember me, too.


Kate Christensen’s new novel is Trouble.


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