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Worldwide Ace » Arm Candy – Part I

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Arm Candy – Part I

16 February, 2009 (11:51) | Growing Up

candy bracelet
Image by the Crafty Bohemian.

“You wanna go get some arm candy, Ben?” I stared dumbfounded at my uncle Ted. The truth was, I barely knew the guy. I’m not even sure he was actually related to me. “It’ll be fun! There’ll be food and baseball and girls!”

“Ick, girls!” I yelled, eliciting laughter from Ted and his friend.

I was six years old the summer I visited my distant relatives on the North Shore. We had flown out to see my Nana Marjorie in Boston and got invited by the rest of the clan out to the lake house.

I was amazed by how green everything was next to the comparatively washed out foliage of California. There was a huge green lawn in front of the wooden house, lawn chairs filled with old women sprouting naturally from its thick growth, their faces turning like sunflowers to follow the orb through the sky. Thick trees outlined the sun drenched field and deep brown house, adding layers of nuance to the earthy tones of New England summer. The building itself had forest green shutters attached to a seemingly unfinished log exterior, its entirety screaming rustic.

Being six, I had no interest in the house, the old women, or the beauty of the scene. I patiently waded through introductions I promptly forgot, my swimsuit chafing at my boredom, the water of the promised lake calling to me.

“Call me nana,” one of the old women said.

“I’ve already got one,” I replied, my eyes snapping from the old ladies to kids running around the house and back again.

She laughed. “Call me bubbie then,” she offered.

“I got one of those too.”

I ignored the conversation between my parents and the old ladies, nearly bouncing with excitement to go swimming. “Beware of the leeches,” someone called as I ran off to jump find this elusive oasis, my shirt peeled and fluttering to some random patch of grass on the way.

As I came around the house, the lake appeared like heaven, light flowing through the trees sending rays delicately cascading across the murky green waters. There was a lone rowboat floating in the middle of the lake, a man with a fishing pole rocking gently with the lapping waters. a small dock sat over to one side and a few black inner tubes were attached to its struts. A few kids, mostly older than me, splashed in the water.

I ran toward them, elated. My shoes came kicking off as I ran, leaving me perfectly prepared to splash right in. I was about to take the plunge and leap feet first into the water when I felt an arm wrap around my middle and yank me back into the air.


“Whoa there, little guy.” The man was in his early 20s, old enough to be an adult to me, yet obviously younger than my parents or the others here. He had what I’m sure he thought of as a bushy moustache, but it really just came off as spindly, yet unkempt. “You’re going to want to put your shoes back on. And maybe a shirt. There are leaches and bugs and all sorts of sharp rocks in there.”

“Oh,” I said, wide-eyed and reverent as he set me down.

“What’s your name?” the man’s friend asked me. He took a sip from the can in his hand, dribbling a little into his beard scruff and onto his ratty yellow t-shirt.

“Ben.” They walked with me as I retraced my steps, my excitement evident as my eyes darted from the lake to the men to my shoes.

“I’m Ted,” said the moustached man. “You can call me uncle Ted. I mean, if you’re here, you’re family.” He smiled warmly. I liked him already. “This is my friend Kevin.”

“Cheers,” toasted Kevin, taking another swig.

“How old are you?” asked my uncle Ted.

“I’m 6, but I’ll be 7 next month!” My hands waived with the proper number of fingers.

“Whoa, you’re getting old already.” I beamed with pride. “Well, enjoy swimming. And if you need anything, come see me.”

“Thank you.”

“Polite little fucker,” I heard Kevin say as I walked up to grab my shirt from the front yard.

“Dude, watch your language,” chided uncle Ted. “There are parents around.”

Most of the afternoon was spent floating in an inner tube. I was ravaged by bug bites through my soaking shirt. From the dock, I stared fascinated at the water moccasins darting across the surface of the water like spring-loaded insects. As the sun began to sink and the air cooled, my dad toweled me off and I was given an oversize shirt to wear while mine was tossed in the dryer with some other clothes.

Most of the adults had retired inside or out front to chat over cups of tea and cocktails, leaving me sitting on the veranda with some of the other kids. I felt too young for the older kids and too old for the younger kids, so I sat on my own on the couch and watched the sunlight play on the water.

“Hey little guy,” called Kevin. I glanced up to see him and uncle Ted standing in the doorway. Kevin’s shirt was dotted with dark stains. “Dan, right?”

“Ben,” corrected uncle Ted.

“How’d you like to do something fun?”

“Like a game?” I asked.

“Come on, Kev. He’s not going to go for it.”

“How do you know?” I snapped, my curiosity and ire raised at once. “What is it?”

“It’s just the greatest thing ever!” said Kevin.

“Shutup you dumb fuck,” cut in Ted. “Let me handle this.”

“Whatever.” Kevin’s took a long swig of another can of something and stepped back. uncle Ted leaned down to my level and grinned.

“You wanna go get some arm candy, Ben?” I stared dumbfounded at him. “It’ll be fun! There’ll be food and baseball and girls!”

“Ick, girls!” I yelled, eliciting laughter from Ted and his friend.

“Don’t worry, little dude,” said Kevin. “We’ll handle the girls.”

To Be Concluded in
Arm Candy – Part II