On our of first full day at Camp Ozone all campers were taken to see Ozone Falls, which was a nice little hike–less than a mile, and usually the counselors did it right after breakfast so all the kids would be worn out until lunch. I think they also did it early because seeing the falls was a pretty amazing thing and the counselors didn’t want to have to hear, “When are we going to see the falls?” every five minutes. It was my third summer so I was a Camp Ozone veteran who knew exactly what to expect and of course I’d been saying to the counselors, “When are we going to see the falls?” every five minutes since I arrived, but that’s another story.
The hike to the falls took us down the road and under an I-40 overpass. As we were walking a kid named Ken, an first-timer at Camp Ozone, glommed onto me and asked if I knew anything about trucks. I’m still not sure why he chose me. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look like the sort of kid who knew anything about trucks. Then again neither did Ken who, in his t-shirt and shorts, looked pretty much like me and all the other kids in our group. So I admitted I didn’t know anything about trucks except that they were big and had eighteen wheels.
“I know everything about trucks,” Ken went on. “I know every model. Do you know what the most expensive brand of truck is?”
Since it had already been established that I knew nothing about trucks I’m not sure how he thought I could name even a single brand, let alone know anything so specific, but Ken’s enthusiasm was making me interested in trucks so I played along.
I have no idea if this was true. This long before the internet, and even longer before the internet became available on devices most of us carry in our pockets, although Peterbilt doesn’t even make the Top 10 for most expensive semi-trucks, and the Wikipedia page just for semis is a very deep rabbit hole of information, which makes me wonder if Ken really knew as much as he claimed. Maybe he really did know a lot about trucks, though, which would have been impressive for a kid at the time.
For some reason Ken and I separated after that. It wasn’t personal. I liked him and, as I said, his enthusiasm for trucks appealed to me–any time I talk to someone who’s obsessed with a subject, especially if it’s something I’ve never thought about, I get interested. I may not share their passion but I still feel like they open up a whole new way of seeing the world. Anyway Ken and I were in separate cabins and, after the trip to the falls, our counselors took us in different directions. Camp also only lasted a week so any lasting friendships were rare.
It’s ironic to me that we now have the internet and that I can fact-check things Ken said, as best I remember them, but I’ve forgotten his last name so I can’t track him down. Even if I could I’m not sure I’d want to. I prefer to have Ken only in my memory, and to imagine he’s still somewhere out there truckin’ along.