When I was about six, I was in some kind of day camp at City Park, in the roofed picnic area across the street from the Girl Scout House (where Mom usually was, if I was loose in City Park) and next to the house that, I was told, contained the evil doings of the Campfire Girls.

Instead of running around by myself the whole time, though, there was some kind of organized parentry going on. It’s hard to believe I was in a day camp, unless Mom traded inmates with another parent or something. At any rate, there I was, and there were some other boys in my demographic there. No doubt there were other human beings as well, but I don’t remember much outside the periphery of “a small bunch of boys,” as I was not a bit shy then.

So somehow or other, the thing to do became jumping about in a fairly orderly way, from the ground to the bench, from the bench to the table, from the table to the bench, from the bench to the ground, and then repeat as desired. Also, for good reasons, the way to jump was to also emit a flat “Eermp” at the same time. If elongated, it would become “eee-yurmp,” but we kept it short and dignified, in a short, informal procession of kids eermping away as we went. A pretty good time was had.

I wouldn’t remember any of this, except one day when I was in fifth or sixth grade, or maybe higher, another kid recognized me. “Hey, remember that time we were all jumping around going ‘eermp’?” It came back very quickly, and the warm feeling — of being recognized, of being remembered, of being admired because I had good ideas like jumping around going eermp, and best of all, remembering how delightful this utterly brainless activity had been.

I once was a leader of my peers!


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