The first time I encountered Garrett Perks was in the entrance to the hallway to the dish room in Ponderosa Kitchen at Hume Lake Christian Camps. As I recall, my response to him running into me with a sheet pan was not befitting the type of camp I had just been hired to work for full time at the end of the Summer in 2000. What I didn’t know, but later learned and felt terrible about, was Garrett’s inability to see out his left eye. Over the following three years as we worked at the camp and recreated together in various ways – some of them quite humorous – and have enjoyed (mostly) other defining experiences in the years since.
I was persuaded by my supervisor to start taking on-line college courses in spite of my determination to not accomplish a single hour more of school in my life. So, being as smart as I was at 18, I chose Political Economics as my first class. I thought I knew a bit about politics (I didn’t) and I liked money (who doesn’t, right?), so, why not? Too bad I failed to pass the course and that D was an anchor to my GPA for the rest of my college career. Garrett graciously attempted to help me, but I was just not ready for proletariat-led revolutions against the Bourgeois. In fact, that word – Bourgeois – that I needed to ask Garrett the definition for was the defining moment of that whole experience.
A few months after my miserable defeat, we were sitting in the Cedar Hall staff dining room talking. One of the staff members mispronounced a word, which I, as the self-appointed Grammar Police, was kind enough to point out. Garrett, not one to miss a chance to dig at me and my youthful pride, said, “That kind of reminds of that time someone asked me what the heck a Bourgeois (but stated with English phonetics, like bor-jus) was.” I chuckled, but let it lie since I knew I only stood to lose by responding. That’s when Ben spoke up and said, “Yeah, people like that kill me. They are all book-smart and know what words mean, but since they have no social skills they don’t even know how to pronounce them!” Garrett laughed one of his typical belly-laughs, but was kind enough not to mention that “someone” was me.