The Simcoe Day long weekend is traditionally celebrated in Ontario with the quaffing of ale and offerings of blood to mosquitos, in proud recognition of the fact that the local abolition of slavery in advance of the rest of the Empire was a fairly classy move. (Props to Lord Simcoe, may his limey bones corrupt in peace.) Cottaging and camping are among the most popular activities for facilitating this revelry. Since we pretty much live in a cottage year-round, we opted to camp.
Tandem sites were reserved by [IDENTITY WITHHELD] on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay Islands National Park, a place (as it eventually came to light) none of our party had ever previously visited. The idea, as it was pitched to me, was that we would get to our site by crossing over to the island from Honey Habour in Old Oak's sixteen-foot tin fishing boat. The cartoonish map provided with our reservation had no clear indication of scale. I frowned. "How long is the crossing?"
"Ten or fifteen minutes," said Littlestar.
"In what kind of boat?"
"I don't know -- that's just what [IDENTITY WITHHELD] told me."
"Oh, he's camped on Beausoleil before?"
"I'm not sure. I'll have to ask him."
I admit that I didn't give the matter much thought after that brief conversation; I was working two jobs again and thus my head was firmly shoved up my own asshole, peeking out occasionally only to dress for conditions or take in food. I was juggling a stereographic conversion for American cinemas, a Japanese auto-show, an overdue magazine article and a sticky tax problem. I was quite content to outsource worrying about the camping details to my lovely wife and [IDENTITY WITHHELD], who seemed to have more enthusiasm for the whole enterprise anyway. I was mainly in it to avoid being a neglectful father. I don't particularly care for camping.
On the night before departure I was finally able to put aside my work. I watched Littlestar poring over the map. "So where do we launch from?" I asked.
"I'm just trying to figure that out," she said.
"What? I thought there was a plan."
"Yeah, we're making it now."
I put my glasses back on and slipped out my space-age pocket-telephone to ask Google about it. I blinked at the resulting map. "Baby, this doesn't look like a ten or fifteen minute ride."
"It's not. [IDENTITY WITHHELD] now says it's closer to forty minutes."
"Forty minutes on the open waters of Lake Huron?"
"It's Georgian Bay. It's somewhat sheltered."
Earlier that day Littlestar and [IDENTITY WITHHELD] had performed some trial runs out on Cook's Bay, a much smaller and calmer bay off the south end of Lake Simcoe (which is a genuine lake, as opposed to Huron which might be more accurately described as a freshwater sea). They were satisfied that the plan would work, but disagreed about how many trips we would have to make to get everyone and their camping gear across. Littlestar was advocating a single trip with the boat low in the water and plodding along, whereas [IDENTITY WITHHELD] was reportedly hung up on the inconvenience of some of our party having to wait on shore for 80 minutes if multiple trips were required. Seeing as I have some boating experience and also a persistent instinct to avoid death, I insisted on multiple trips. The waiting be damned. I said I'd bring my iPad so the kids could play games while they waited. Better safe than sorry, after all.
As my family prepared to depart for Honey Harbour we learned that [IDENTITY WITHHELD] had not been able to get the day off from [REDACTED] and would therefore not be able to get on the road until later in the afternoon. Since we were planning to divide the transit into two trips anyway now, we decided to set off ahead and do our own crossing, get the site registration taken care of and so on, and then I would return to pick up [IDENTITY WITHHELD]'s party. He sent us a series of emails that morning expressing worry over the conditions on Georgian Bay, extolling us to be very careful.
This discomfited me somewhat. Why was the guy who hatched the plan now suddenly nervous about it?
Honey Harbour is a charming pimple. They had ice cream and everything. Town was bursting with tourists with Uhura earpieces. Stubbled locals advertised their fields as parking lots for a king's ransom per day with hand-lettered, misspelled signs. We wound all the way to the end of town to find a quiet public launch situated just outside a humble marina whose property was choked with the carcasses of dead vehicles of various kinds rusting in the tall grass. Littlestar expertly backed the trailer down the ramp and I sloshed around and tugged on it until the boat drifted free. I was even smart enough to remember to take my space-age pocket-telephone out of my pocket, first, to avoid drowning it as I had my prior handset. I tied the fishing boat up along a side-dock and chatted with Miss Seven and Mr. Four while Littlestar went to secure parking at the marina. We put on our life-jackets, snapping closed the plastic clasps and zipping fast the zippers.
“Do I have to zip it up all the way?”
“Yes, darling, you do.”
I distributed our cargo strategically, keeping the bow light by packing the bedding and sleeping bags up there while the portable generator, fishing tackle, tent and coolers went amidships or further astern. At this point I felt that my concerns about overloading the boat had been without grounds, as we weren’t sitting particularly low in the water. Once we managed to get the motor running I was even beginning to feel reasonably confident that our mission would be successful, and chalked up my prior misgivings to me being a pussy.
We set off, two-stroke motor chortling.
The narrow byways around Honey Harbour were crowded. We chugged along slowly between swank power cruisers and elegant yachts, searching for the coloured buoys that marked safe passage between the rocky shoulders of the Canadian Shield-based islets lurking sometimes just beneath the surface. Hazards presenting themselves only recently due to the especially low water level were marked only by floating white water jugs, which were hard to see between even gentle waves. It took a near-miss to sober me up to stare carefully for them.
The next challenge was that the geography was rapidly becoming confusing as we emerged from small cove of the public launch and into a wider water avenue, and so I passed Littlestar my telephone so she could track our progress in real-time with McMaps or whatever.
We were initially confused by the lack of correspondence between the cartoon map and the on-line map until we tried zooming in. And zooming in further. And then zooming in again until we could match the coasts with the paper version. And then we zoomed in some more and I began to truly appreciate the scale of the voyage we were attempting. Islands surfaced out of the deep, minor channels became wide crossings, and we were separated from Beausoleil by a broad stretch of open waters with no shoals or bays to muffle the rollers.
We got turned around in a circular lagoon for a spell, forcing us during our exit to drive directly into the wind, a constant spatter spraying back at us from the waves. “We’re getting water on us!” said Mr. Four.
“Well, that happens a bit in boats.”
The further we chugged along the more enthusiastic the waves became but a few minutes later we were able to change direction and it became easier to steer with the waves to minimize their flooshiness. Never the less, several particularly jerky waves sloshed over the bow as we turned toward a set of closely-spaced markers delineating a tight squeeze between two islands, the open waters glittering beyond. Larger vessels swept past us, engines roaring.
"Our stuff's going to be wet," observed Littlestar philosophically as more water sloshed over the bow.
"Shit," I muttered. I looked down. My ankles remained dry. It must look like more water’s coming in than it really is, I thought.
"It's only the bedding. It'll dry out."
"Still, do you think you could do a little bailing?" I started to look around for a place to park so we could assess and deal with the water situation, but unfortunately we were in the narrow navigable corridor in a broad channel – just under the surface beyond the buoys were the algae-slick backs of giant stones, invisible and treacherous.
As Littlestar shifted around to reach for the bailing bucket we crossed through the wake of another large and fast vessel, two voluminous waves in a row crashing in over our bow. The bow started to dip. "Let's all move back one bench," I called. "Get more weight in the stern to keep the nose up."
"There's a lot of water in the boat," reported Miss Seven as she started to climb back toward us. Indeed, I saw that our sleeping bags were jostling against one another as they started to float.
"Here, pass me my bag before it gets wet," I told her. "Quickly now!"
As Miss Seven reached out to me with the shoulder bag containing my wallet and tech a third wave sloshed over the gunwales of our little fishing boat. I watched with dismay as the bow was swamped and the boat lurched to a steep angle. The bedding, black and heavy as a stone, had been absorbing water all along. The physics of the situation became unambiguous. "We're done," I declared.
What I meant by this was that we were done boating, and were now about to change activities to swimming. The transition was sudden. I recall reminding myself from past experience that capsizing was never as terrible as I tended to fear, and I even felt a real and tangible relief as my anxiety over the possibility of disaster evaporated entirely…basically, because a disaster was already in progress. So at least I could cross “worry about avoiding a capsize” right off my list of concerns. That made me happy.
Half a second had passed. I grabbed a hold of Miss Seven's outstretched arm as Littlestar wrapped herself around Mr. Four who had begun to cry in alarm. The boat dropped out from under us and then rolled over in the water, the starboard-stern corner rounding up into the air and swinging down toward Miss Seven's head as she sputtered with a mouthful of lake.
I smiled at her as I caught the gunwale just shy of her scalp, then pulled her clear with my bag and let the boat drop. She never noticed the jeopardy, but she did become concerned as something slipped free from her hand when I yanked her toward me. As she grabbed at it again I felt disproportionately delighted to recognize that she had managed to save her beloved teddy bear, Bo.
"Now we're in the water!" cried Mr. Four from his mother's arms, our various belongings bobbing around us, sallying off wherever they cared to. Littlestar soothed Mr. Four with calm, reassuring words I couldn’t quite make out over the splashing and general hubbub. It seemed like they were both okay. Nobody was bleeding or choking or sinking or freaking out, which I was able to appreciate as a very decent turn of events.
With a gush of giddy zeal I realized that there was a distinct possibility that I might get through the ordeal without being forced to get my bag wet and thereby sacrifice my newest and shiniest toy. I felt like I’d just been handed a prize. The water was very warm, the day gorgeous. All in all, not a bad dunking.
With Miss Seven snuggled against my left side and my bag balanced atop my head I swam over to the capsized boat. The motor had stopped, the blades sticking out of the water. I instructed Miss Seven to grab a hold of the hull with her free arm, to the far side of the motor. "See, we're okay, aren't we?" I asked her.
She nodded bravely. "But now what are we going to do?"
"Well," I said, looking around, "I think somebody's going to have to fish us out."
The nearest boat was a modest cabin cruiser with a brace of young rural Ikea-ish people onboard. I saw them looking at us, shielding their eyes against the sun. They changed course, slowing as they came around. They were trying to figure out why someone was swimming in the channel, and it was dawning on them that we probably weren’t. My last anxieties dissipated – we were going to be helped, and we’d had to endure only a minute or two of uncertainty. "Do you need help?" the lady on the back of the cruiser called out when she was close enough.
I nodded. "Yes, please. Help!"
"Help, help!" yelled Miss Seven.
"That's quite sufficient," I said, shaking my head. "They know, dear. Let's not panic them with excessive shouting."
They circled around first to retrieve Mr. Four from Littlestar’s arms and then Littlestar herself. Miss Seven and I were approached by a couple of teenage girls on a wave-runner who wanted to know if they could help out. They were probably just totally into me. At any rate, I passed them the teddy bear and then the girl – which I believed was the sequence Miss Seven would want – and the girls ferried my daugher and Bo to the cruiser, then returned to try to make a grab for some of our more buoyant material belongings still visible out of the channel, desperate to make their Marxist escape. When the cruiser circled again the lady on board asked if I could swim.
"I can, but I'd rather not. I'm trying to keep this bag dry if at all possible. Um. You see."
They circled around again and offered out a long pole. The lady wanted me to put my bag on the hook on the end of the pole, but I figured she was just trying to steal my iPad so I begged off. Instead I took a hold of the pole had myself towed to the swim ladder on the hull, my bag still safe on top of my head. I slithered out of the drink. I no longer had any sandals. "Thank you very much," I said, because you should always be very polite to people who rescue you at sea. It’s like the mariner’s aqua-code or something.
Inside the cabin the children had been given towels. Mr. Four was shaking, though I don't think it was from cold so much as from the rush of adrenalin. Miss Seven was trying to look on the bright side, pointing to her bear. "He's starting to dry out already, Papa. You can tell because the dry parts are lighter."
"Splendid," I said, touching her head tenderly. “You were very brave, my girl.”
“I cried,” admitted Mr. Four.
“Yeah, but I thought you were really brave, too, young man.”
The rescuing couple had a little boy with Coke-bottle glasses who was making friends with Mr. Four. “How do you do?” I asked him.
“Good,” said the kid. “Is that an iPad?”
To Littlestar I quietly raised a brow, “The boy’s blankie?”
She smiled. “Got it. And his special racing car pillow, too.”
I smiled back. “You rock.”
Though I had at this point expected our rescuers to declare their mandate fulfilled instead they were determined to manoeuvre around and salvage as much of our stuff as possible. Maybe they thought I was rich and would offer them a reward, or maybe they were just really decent people. You never know, with strangers. At any rate, with the aid of the two teenage girls on the wave-runner and the lady with the hook-pole we managed to scoop up our tent, a knapsack of children's clothes, and even one of the coolers.
"If there's beer in there it's mine," laughed the cruiser’s pilot.
"Damn straight," I agreed.
A third vessel joined in the rescue by tethering up our overturned fishing boat and attempting to drag it to shore. Unfortunately this effort took them in the opposite direction that we and our stuff were drifting, and we could not establish communications as the people dragging our boat didn't seem to have a working radio onboard. We also tried to radio the police, but the madness of the long weekend had overtaken them and no authorities replied to our hails. That was fine with me – as far as I’m concerned it’s a purely civilian matter unless somebody’s hurt.
And so, less than half an hour after capsizing, we were cruising back to Honey Harbour in the warm sunshine. We landed at a seaside café with a big dock, and then our rescuers helped us to unload what soggy goods we had managed to retrieve. Mr. Four ran around with the Coke-bottle glasses kid, hooting and laughing and apparently untroubled. When all was hauled to the dock we thanked our rescuers profusely, gave them some cold beers, and waved as they motored away.
Littlestar looked forlornly at her space-age pocket-telephone, which had been tucked into her cleavage. It would not respond. She handed me mine. It was sort of vibrating and bubbling inside, and weird liquid was squirting on the screen and discolouring it from beneath. But, due to Miss Seven's quick reflexes, we still had my iPad bag and therefore a wallet. Littlestar used the café's telephone to make contact with [IDENTITY WITHHELD] and then I called her parents to update them on our situation and needs; since Littlestar's purse had gone down we had lost the car keys, and thus asked that Old Oak pretty please drive up to Honey Harbour with the spare set. And also he was to bring us ponies and cake.
Soon thereafter [IDENTITY WITHHELD]'s party arrived, and [REDACTED REDACTED] which was very sweet, and then he suggested that the most normalizing way to proceed for the children would be for them to go on camping with [IDENTITY WITHHELD]’s party. "How would you get across to Beausoleil, though?" I asked.
"Don't worry, we'll take the ferry," he replied.
My eyes bugged out of my head. There's a fucking ferry?
First of all, let me just say that [REDACTED REDACTED] and, honestly, [REDACTED] whereas [REDACTED REDACTED], plus [REDACTED] should always be kept top of mind when [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED] motherfucking [REDACTED]. That being said, let’s move on.
I took a deep breath. The plan was deemed workable as we had, after all, retrieved the children's clothes and [IDENTITY WITHHELD]'s tent was spacious. He believed that they had packed not only enough food and supplies for our offspring, but for us as well. It was a generous proposition. I had to draw the line there, however -- my lack of love for camping is pretty much only mollified by having some amount of control over my own provisions and arrangements...the idea of sleeping without bedding in a cramped corner of somebody else's tent while begging for scraps of whatever they liked to eat was...well, too much. We agreed that the kids should go, if he and his [REDACTED] were prepared to handle them solo on top of [IDENTITY WITHHELD]; meanwhile while Littlestar and I would return to the Old Schoolhouse to regroup and resupply, then rejoin them at the site the next day after recovering our floundered fishing boat.
"We’d go on another little boat?" asked Mr. Four timidly.
"No, it's a big boat,” explained Littlestar.
"And it won't sink?"
"No, it won't."
"And we can still go camping?"
His face lit up. He wanted to do it. Miss Seven also agreed that she wanted to push ahead. And so Littlestar and I hugged them tight and then waved goodbye as they squeezed into [IDENTITY WITHHELD]'s car and headed off for a different dock. My wife and I stood there outside the café by the liquor, a bit dazed. We took off our life jackets and I cracked a beer, sitting on a smooth rise of Canadian Shield.
"Fuck," sighed Littlestar. "I sure wish the weed hadn't sunk. I could use a joint right about now."
I grinned. "Saved items include but are not limited to: my iPad, my wallet, and a candy tin of pre-rolled joints."
We had no shoes and no telephones. We were like hobos. So, we wandered around Honey Harbour in bare feet and sopping clothes for a while, smoking marijuana and waiting for Old Oak to turn up with the spare keys. "I have to admit that now I'm starting to feel a bit shaken up," I told her. "I have instant replay-itis going over and over again in my mind's eye."
We discussed what had happened, and how it had all gone down, and what we’d been up to when the other one wasn’t looking. I felt very badly about having fucked up everybody’s weekend and for having scared the shit out of my children.
“Plus, we have to find the boat now. I don’t want to end up owing anybody a bloody boat.”
“Why would you owe anybody a boat?”
“I was driving. If I borrow your car and fuck it up, I pay to have it fixed.”
“But this wasn’t your fault.”
“That’s debatable. But even if I borrow your car and it gets a flat because somebody spilled nails in the road and it wasn’t my fault at all, I still buy you a tire -- because it happened on my watch. Similarly, if I sink your boat I buy you a new one. Um. Even if I didn’t ask to borrow it. Or, you know, even want to at all.” I sighed. “I admit that it’s a grey area of responsibility, but never the less we’ve got to try to find the fucking boat. Or your family with declare war on me or something. Again.”
She nodded thoughtfully. “Well, that might be true. I’m sure we’ll find it.”
“For sure,” I said. Because, why not say things?
By the time Old Oak arrived in his golden Toyota it was getting late. He took us to one of the larger marinas to try to book a water taxi but the water taxi people were surly fat bitches who didn’t seem very interested in helping us at all. After a series of very long, Zen-like pauses we were informed by one particularly surly fat bastard that the long weekend had made them quite busy; he could, perhaps, just possibly, pencil us in at $110 per hour at the end of the next day. What could we do? We fucking booked it. Surly bastard. Too bad about your tits.
Old Oak drove us to another marina on the south edge of town which we believed was reasonably proximate to the island were we’d last seen our boat being dragged toward. The marina was completely abandoned. The main club house was open, and a radio was playing. Tools were out at work sites. Crickets. We walked around calling, “Hello? Hello?” for a while and then used Old Oak’s mobile to call a number painted on the wall under the headline, NEED HELP? Nobody answered.
We decided to drive back to our car at the grass-choked marina by the public launch. Along the way Old Oak told me about his opinions concerning using a small fishing boat to cross to Beausoleil Island. “Idiotic. Deeply idiotic. The stupidest thing I ever heard of, ja.”
I wasn’t really in a position to argue. I still had damp lake up my ass. When we got to the marina Littlestar went inside to see if we couldn’t get some of our money back, seeing as we’d paid for the weekend in advance and we’d now be leaving and were uncertain of our how future plans would shake out. Instead, the merry little ginger man who owned the marina gave her all of our money back, and shook his head and laughed as he heard our story.
“Thank you very much.”
Old Oak drove on ahead and then we followed, an hour home and then we opened up the tent inside the house to start the drying process. We threw the clothes we were wearing in the dryer and banged like crazed bonobos. We drank some of our retrieved beers and fell asleep in the living room…
Like slack-jawed yokels come morning we headed barefoot to Walmart to find cheap replacements for the things we’d lost, but the mid-season offerings were truly awful, even for Walmart. All the ugly sandals were too big or too small, and the only bathing suits left for Littlestar to choose from were ill-fitting, leopard-print and slutty. “It’s not all bad,” I said in the changing room.
“My ass is showing and my boobs are pouring out the sides.”
“Exactly – win and win. Plus, you look like a leopard.”
“They’re zebra stripes, actually.”
“Whatever. Some kind of damn animal. Rawr!”
Back at Honey Harbour we decided to return to the marina where we’d parked, figuring that the little ginger owner seemed like a decent and sympathetic sort of a guy, and perhaps he could hook us up with someone local with a private boat willing to undertake our scout-and-tow mission for a fee less abusive than those golf-shirt twat-faced water taxi Nazis. He scrunched up his lined, freckled face and considered the matter for a truly rural amount of time, than called over his pubescent son. “You wanna help these folks out, Graham?”
Graham did, but he had another aqua-errand to run first, so Littlestar and I hung around the marina with the owner, Phil, his wife, and some old man who smoked a lot and kept seeming to forget who we were. Also, a friendly dog. A Korean with giant fluffy hair came in asking for directions to the water taxi Nazi hideout, and we helped him out. When Graham finally returned we hopped in his little Boston Whaler-like motor boat and set off on our mission.
By combining our recollections Littlestar and I were able to narrow in on the area where we believed our boat had last been seen, but beyond that we were lost – the area was maze of tiny conifer-encrusted islands. They all looked the same. Our boat, I felt, was as good as lost. But at least we’d given it the old college try.
We rounded a rocky peninsula near a lovely little private island with a single cottage on it, and there on their short stretch of beach was our boat. It had been flipped and drained. As we came closer it became apparent that, to boot, it was filled with even more of our retrieved belongings. The owners of the cottage were walking out to meet us.
I shook the fellow’s hand. He had no idea who had brought the boat here or when. His wife had reasoned that we might come back, so she had replenished the ice in the cooler. “I figured if you did come back, you’d want your salad to be crisp.”
We opened the cooler. “Our steaks!”
“And your sandals!” cried Littlestar. “Both of them!”
“Here’s Mr. Four slicker, and his water pistol!”
Really, it was an impressive haul. Somebody had fished everything they could out of the channel and laid it neatly in our nicely drained boat, parked as nice as you like on a tiny crescent of sandy beach.
“Well, thank you for hosting our boat so kindly. Nice beach!”
We waved as we motored off – Littlestar and Graham up ahead, me behind in the fishing boat. On the way back to the marina we passed an Ontario Provincial Police marine interceptor, and they decided to follow us home. When we moored they explained that once they got the report from the cottage owner about the abandoned boat they’d wondered whether they’d be fishing bodies out of the bay.
“We did try to contact you yesterday,” I pointed out.
“Yesterday we were out fishing bodies out of bay,” the officer explained.
It seemed a very similar circumstance had befallen another party on the same day: their 14’ fishing boat had been overwhelmed by a series of waves, dramatically swamped and then rolled. None of the three people on board had been wearing their life jackets at the time. The OPP officer told us that the sole survivor had managed to grab the life jackets from beneath the benches and had thrown them to his friends. But it had all happened so fast. His friends were already gone.
“So you were all wearing your life jackets, even the adults?”
“Good on you. Seriously, good on you. Listen, let me get some stuff for your kids. T-shirts, whistles. I’ll see what we’ve got. We don’t want this to turn into a negative experience for them.”
Phil instructed his boy step by step on how to get the engine drained and prepped to fire again. While Graham took care of the spark plugs Phil checked on the oil and gas seeping situation. “Welp, what you have hear, my friend, is what we call a best-case scenario. You understand? This engine’s going to be fine, eh?”
I shook my head and whistled. “That’s far more luck than we have any right to expect.”
He chuckled. “Any right to expect, eh? I like that. No worries, Graham’ll have this fixed up by the time you get back on Monday.”
“Thank you very much, Phil.”
We loaded up Graham’s boat with our new sleeping bags and so on for our trip over to Beausoleil Island to join the children. Shortly thereafter we were drawing up to the dock, catching them in our arms, grinning as they assaulted us with zealous reports of all the friends they’d already made. Mr. Four stripped off his shirt to he could wear the one the police gave him, and we all walked back to our twin beach-side sites in the afternoon sunshine…
There were steaks for supper. [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED]. Also, we [REDACTED]. I consumed several beers consecutively, then broke into the rye (replaced on our restocking mission, as the original haul of liquor had sunk in our suitcase along with Littlestar’s favourite summer clothes). Fire crackled. Darkness came and the moon rose red. The air was warm and still. And, somehow, against all odds, there was not a single mosquito to be heard, seen or felt. Fucking paradise.
Mr. Four put himself to bed lying on the ground outside the tent, and then we carried him in. Miss Seven followed shortly thereafter. Then [IDENTITY WITHHELD] and [IDENTITY WITHHELD] and [IDENTITY WITHHELD] retired, leaving only me and the milf by the red moon and orange fire.
We walked by the beach and made out. Then I took her behind a small screen of reeds and tore her clothes off, which was fairly awesome except sand at night is both colder and scratchier than romance novel covers imply. Never the less, it’s hard to top boobs in the moonlight. One has to appreciate these things, especially in the wake of near-calamity and destroyed telephones and [REDACTED]. I mean, shit.
Whenever you see boobs in the moonlight you know you’re having a good time.
* * *
This is the epilogue, where I sum up how everything panned out. First of all, children lost = zero. Precious teddy bears and security blankets and iPads lost = zero. Total amount of money I blew out my ass last weekend = fucking plenty.
But a good time was had by all. We saw a giant watersnake molting, and retrieved its skin. We hopped between rocks, and saw giant blue dragonflies. The children childrened it up with other children. And absolutely everyone was a good sport about everything, even [IDENTITY WITHHELD] who had to contend with an uncomfortable allergic reaction due to some kind of evil pollen or somet
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