It had been a long first day. I wearily wandered into my room. Shasta McNasty wasn’t there. Thank God. I wouldn’t be needing a brave face. Though I was the youngest, I certainly wasn’t going to be some simpering weak cry baby emphasizing that point in front of my … practiced teenaged roomie. That said, I was basically a simpering weak cry baby in that moment. I needed reassurance. I needed a distraction. Like any eleven-year-old having a time of it, I needed my mom.
I called home to hear my parents’ encouraging voices, trying hard not to reveal my current state of vulnerability. I didn’t want to disappoint them. They’d sacrificed a lot to send me to this camp, and I wasn’t going to let them down. Seeking a diversion from my terrible day, I asked what was knew. I was tendered the tragic news that my gerbil, Gremlin, was dead.
Now before I continue, full disclosure, I’d only had said gerbil for a week. He was a proxy pet. A quick fix, if you will. See, my Martha, a six-year-old guinea pig, my first pet, and adored ball of fur, had crashed and burned the week prior, hence the four-legged rebound that had croaked on my parents’ watch. I lost it. Not because I was mourning the death of a replacement rodent, but because I was overwhelmed. It was coming out in one big ugly cry. I hate ugly crying. However, my parents didn’t know how overwhelmed I was because, of course, I’d lied. I was eleven. I wasn’t stupid. So, when they thought I was hysterical because of my week-long companion’s untimely demise, I went with it.
After the unfortunate phone call, I headed to the communal showers. Another miserable experience in the making because pretty much at any age insecurities abound in shared fitting rooms, locker rooms, showers, etc. So, that awkward experience was basically the cherry on top of the ultimate shitty day.
Till I got back to my room.
Shasta McNasty was there. Okay, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe after today’s shared tennis trials and tribulations, this was our moment to bond.
I can remember sighing at her somewhat dismissive attitude. I simply chalked it up to being born with Palace Script monogrammed towels as I headed to my bed.
Of course, I didn’t immediately fall asleep. I laid there, staring blankly at the dated ceiling, desperately wishing for a sprained ankle the next day when Shasta McNasty started to speak. I suppose in the dark confines of our dorm room, when all others she could impress were gone, I was what was there. She talked; I listened. She went on and on and on about her sex life, her popularity, her money … insert pretty much any nauseating topic here and she had it covered. I passed out somewhere between lingerie she’d recently bought from Victoria’s Secret and the car she’d been promised for her 16th birthday.
The next day was much the same though we had a mid-morning break. So, I ran back to the room to relax a bit, using the air conditioner to beat the heat. When I walked in the room, I was alone, but something was off. Something just wasn’t right….
I looked around, but it all seemed in place. I shrugged it off and went to the cabinet to have a quick snack when in my periphery, I saw the trash bin had more than a few Kit Kat wrappers inside. That was odd. Maybe Shasta McNasty had brought Kit Kats, too. Though when I told her she was welcome to share my snacks, she hadn’t mentioned it.
I shook it off and opened the cupboard only to see that my bag of Kit Kats had been opened. Over half the bag was gone. Shasta McNasty must have eaten them. And no, I didn’t jump to that conclusion because she was fat, well, okay, maybe I jumped to that conclusion because she was fat, but regardless, it had to be her because I knew it wasn’t me. This also meant that even though I told her she was welcome to my snacks, she had snuck them when I wasn’t in the room. She had gone through my things. This did not make me a happy camper.
Shortly after my discovery, Shasta McNasty entered the room. She, too, was seeking a cool reprieve from the sweltering sun and had also come to grab a quick bite to eat. Because of course she had. (what? I was ELEVEN!)
I casually mentioned the Kit Kats. I said I was glad she’d taken me up on my offer to share my snacks. She stared at me vacantly (yeah, this was kind of her standard look, but there was a little more detachment behind the eyes than usual). So, I motioned to the trash bin, hoping she understood. Her eyes had followed my hand to the bin and then back again. She said she hadn’t eaten them. She didn’t take my Kit Kats.
I was confused. She had to have eaten my Kit Kats. Right? Wait! Maybe one of her equally vacuous new friends had been in the room with her and she had given them some of my Kit Kats. That had to be it!
Shasta McNasty said she hadn’t brought anyone to the room. Honestly, given our schedules, she probably hadn’t.
Swiftly, she turned on her heels and went to open her cabinet. Lo and behold, some of her snacks had been eaten, too! She quickly checked her suitcase as well, which had even more snacks hiding in it, (because she was fat, folks) and a bag of Fritos or something was gone.
We both looked at each other. I was baffled and she was as vacant as before. What was going on? What could this mean? The answer was clear —- someone had broken into our room and was stealing our food.
There was a mystery to be solved at this Nike tennis camp and dammit, we were going to solve it.
To be continued …