How I became best friends with my CA

Community Associate Eli Karp and Ben Fagell share a laugh at East Fairchild.

Eli said I “came in too hot.”

Sure, I practically screamed my name when I introduced myself at check-in. But then again, how could I contain my excitement when I first met my soon-to-be best friend?

Initially, Eli’s disinterested façade masked the man who would eventually spew wisdom about the meaning of life at 4 a.m., embarrass novice pingpong players with his brutal backhand and play Word Hunt with a ferocious intensity.

I begged Eli, although he was technically my community associate, to be my friend. Every time I asked, however, he would grin sheepishly and say we could only be friends starting week three. It was infuriating to say the least.

True to his word, Eli embraced our friendship during the third week of cherubs. When Eli finally opened up, the boys — especially me — became his trusty sidekicks. Eli may say he did not enjoy the cult-like following, but he would be lying. Whether cloud watching in a field of grass, drafting for fantasy football or running to Whole Foods to purchase fruit, we — Eli and the boys — had a blast.

Eli and the boys celebrate Ben’s birthday.

Eli is 18 years old, and my 18th birthday was July 21, right in the middle of the program. I could not wait to become the same age as he was. Dani Lubezki designed a shirt for me with a picture of my hero’s face and the phrase, “#1 fan.” I get a kick out of the stunned faces of passersby when they see my shirt and then human Eli beside me.

Now I joke that I will room with him at college. He says it is “impossible because of the two year live-on requirement,” but I say he just doesn’t have the motivation to make it happen. Like all friends, we have our friendly but spirited banter.

If you come to cherubs, I hope you will have a CA like Eli. I doubt you will, but you can dream. The staff said it would be the best summer of my life, and Eli helped make it just that.