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hat? Tell me already,” Rivky said, laughing. “I’m bursting with curiosity.”

Chaim realized that she already knew, that she’d been listening to his conversation with Penner.

“You know what he wanted, you heard him.”

She blushed. “No, not really, I only heard a bit.”

“Okay, he wants us to come to camp. Like to work, to be there.” Chaim paused and looked at her meaningfully.

It was a loaded sentence: early in their marriage, she’d tried hard, week after summer week. “Come on, let’s go up this Shabbos, the weather is supposed to be great, my siblings will be there.”

At first, he’d given excuses; work, learning, allergies. Finally, he’d told her the truth. “I hate it there, I hate the whole atmosphere, the forced happiness, kids being told that they’re having a geshmake time and that they’re enjoying themselves.” He’d considered that pretty decent — he hadn’t said the truth, that he found it embarrassing to see his father-in-law jumping up and down like an overgrown child, wearing silly hats or bobbing for apples at the carnival. Something, incidentally, that Rivky had found hilarious.

Rivky had given him a sad smile and said, “It would probably look different to you had you actually had a childhood.”

Then, as happened so often early in their marriage, she’d immediately apologized when he was the one who’d been mean.

Now, he tried to sound casual. “Penner thinks we’d be good to have at Tatty’s side, he would do his thing and we would just kind of be there. He knows about the matzav with my job.”

“And you would want to do that?” Rivky asked incredulously.

Chaim caught something in her tone. She didn’t want him to take the job. Rivky didn’t want to go to camp.

He looked at her. “What? You don’t want to? Why?”

“No,” she quickly protested, “it sounds amazing. It really does. I just didn’t think he would really... I didn’t imagine that he would do that. I always thought Penner wanted Tatty to retire. This is weird, like he’s trying to help Tatty out.”

Chaim shrugged. There was something he wasn’t getting here. Rivky was completely flustered.

“Chaim, you think you would enjoy being there? What happened to all your issues with camp?”

“I thought you’d be happy at the idea,” he said, “I thought you’d be excited.”

“Excited? What, you already said yes?”

“No, of course not, he just threw the idea out there and we didn’t even discuss it yet. I just thought you’d enjoy the hava amina. I don’t think it’s realistic for me either.”

She looked relieved. “But it’s for sure very cute,” she said, smiling. “It’s funny to imagine you at Neos Deshe for more than five minutes, you know? I always pictured Yudi doing something like this, stepping up when Tatty gets old. You’re probably the last person I imagined doing it. It’s just so not your type of thing. I guess Tatty will get hurt if he hires someone new, but he still needs help, so Penner asked you. It’s all very cute.”