I notice this one kid who has a shock of super curly brown hair. He’s wearing sunglasses and sits off to one side, not talking. This, of course, means that it’s my job to carefully observe him and see what I can discover.
I wonder if he’s blind, since he doesn’t do much but sit there and stare off into the distance, but eventually he gets up and joins the other kids, who are playing volleyball in the back. There are no more than a half dozen kids, so it’s not much. Sunglasses Kid plays, but hardly says anything and doesn’t laugh. And as I sit there watching him, half-imagining that I am some fedora-clad detective straight out of period film, I decide that this kid is going to be very interesting. There’s something about the mysterious ones who are something like a jigsaw puzzle. You start putting together the pieces, but then you find out something else that doesn’t quite fit, keeping you always on your toes. This is good. Very good. Or maybe I’m just bored.
I notice that Sunglasses Kid is sort of a loner. At least, that’s what I deduce. I may or may not be getting my facts straight. But he doesn’t really talk much. He’s just there. In fact, I don’t think he says more than a sentence or two the whole time I watch him. Eventually Sunglasses Kid comes back, as it’s time to eat. He sits at the same table I’m at, but at the other end. A couple joins us, as well as another kid with straight black hair sticking to his forehead with sweat. I soon find out that the couple is actually Sunglasses Kid’s parents, and the other kid is his younger brother. They say some stuff to him, but not much, so I can’t get much of a reading. I wonder if I’m being a bit weird, but I shrug it off.
After I eat enough food to satisfy me until tomorrow, the kids decide to head into the swimming pool, despite our recent meal. We reason, however, that by the time we’ve changed and gotten in, it should be fifteen minutes.
Marco Polo is the game we play, agreed on by popular demand. As cries of “Marco!” and “Polo!” ring out, with the occasional “Fish out of water!”, I decide that this is actually pretty fun. Still, I keep an eye on Sunglasses Kid, who’s still wearing his sunglasses despite his being in the water. I mean, he doesn’t put his head under the water, but still. Eventually, he takes them off.
As we start another game, he occasionally makes eye contact with me. I decide not to be the first one to look away. We stare for about three seconds before someone splashes by, but he sort of smirks. I don’t know what to make of him.
At one point, while Jake, Hudson, Brandon—Sunglasses Kid’s brother—and a few of the other younger kids are being younger kids, Sunglasses Kid comes up over to me.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hello,” I reply, my voice noncommittal.
“Those kids are crazy, aren’t they?” His voice is deep, very deep. Almost gravelly, but not quite. Not the kind of voice someone my age would have.
I shrug. “Yeah, really. I’m Josh.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“Same here.” Short pause. “So, what’s your story?”
I launch into a very brief, very concise history of my life that spans three continents and a few islands. Before I know it, we’ve hit it off, and eventually get out of the pool and continue to talk. What’s cool about Nathan is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—the fact that he’s not “cool.” I mean, whatever it is that society deems cool, I’m not a part of it. Neither do I really aspire to be a part of the whole Kingdom of Cooldom(which, if you notice, rolls quite nicely off the tongue). But sometimes, it’s annoying when you have conversations that go like this:
Cool-Guy-Who-Calls-Every-Other-Guy-Bro-Or-Dude: So bro, you into video games?
Me: Uh, no. I’ve…played Mario Kart with little kids on the Wii. Yeah.
Cool Guy: Oh. So, what’s your favorite sports?
Me: I don’t really have a favorite sport. I’m not into sports that much. I used to play dodgeball once a week.
Cool Guy: Oh. Right. Well, I’ll see you later.
But with Nathan, it’s different. I find out that he’s a bit behind in school because he can’t learn as fast as the other kids, and occasionally has trouble grasping English, which is why he speaks deliberately and has some trouble with reading and writing. But I hardly notice and don’t mind. He’s into sports, and I’m not. I’m into books, but him, not so much. And yet, it works.
It really works.