Childhood Memory: Stuyvie & The Urinal

published Aug 29, 2022
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Maxwell's self portraits as a kid
Credit: Maxwell Ryan
The best picture I could find from around my age in this story, which is twelve years old. This was taken at Camp Sunapee on the archery range, where I found the most happiness that summer. When I went to look up Camp Sunapee, I couldn't find any trace of it!

Stuyvie was an old friend. We went way back in the summertime as kids at the beach club and day camp. But he was older than me and, for some reason, whenever we were back in our elementary school in the city our summer friendships suddenly turned off. It was often that way with my friends.

The Buckley School was a small boys school, with a coat and tie dress code and a fierce sports program. Aside from the usual sports of football, soccer, basketball and baseball, Buckley fielded teams in wrestling, gymnastics, lacrosse, cross country and track and field. We LIVED sports. We also had required weekly PE classes where we all had to do push ups, chin ups and sit-ups – and were made to box and wrestle with one another. If we had a casual class, we’d be allowed to play dodgeball in the basketball gym, which meant that the bigger kids could really cream the rest of us with the red rubber ball. It was a pretty tribal experience and many of my classmates just stopped being good friends after the summer, when we went back to school. 

But I looked up to Stuyvie. It was at Stuyvie’s summer house just down the street on Dunemere Lane that I first revved up an Evel Knievel action figure and made him jump on his motorcycle across the lawn and over the jump we made with cedar shingles. It was Stuyvie who taught me that you could hang out in the sand by the pool, pick up all the old cigarette butts that got dropped there and build forts and move cigarette butt armies across the sand for hours. He was able to build whole fantastic worlds inside of what looked like nothing to me. I also thought his mother was easily the most beautiful mother at the beach. She packed the best lunches of any family at the beach. While some families had the money to let their kids run wild at the snack bar, and I had to make my own lunch at home in the morning and tow it around all day, Stuyvie’s mother always opened a carefully packed cooler with sandwiches wrapped in cool aluminum foil that were always PB&J’s – but she never used jelly, always Smucker’s jam, which was the best. She was an incredible mom. She had a soothing voice. Every day in the summer, she would call over Stuyvie and his little sister, Marcie, that it was time for lunch. If I was lucky, she’d see that I was playing with Stuyvie and call me over too. There was always enough PB&J’s to go around. 

But there I was, one afternoon at school on the fourth floor of the Hubball Building. I ducked out of my classroom because I had to go to the bathroom really badly. I must have been 13. The halls were quiet and as I slipped into the boy’s room I saw Stuyvie standing at the urinal. He was 15, a ninth grader by that time. I was probably in seventh – the lowest man on the totem pole in the Upper School. As I walked over to approach my own urinal, Stuyvie looked at me, laughed and said, “If you come closer I’m going to pee on you.” He had that devilish glint in his eye that he often got, but I didn’t believe him. I said, “You’re not going to do that. I’m all dressed. We’re in school!” 

“Oh yes I am!” He said, and without waiting for me to get any closer he turned around towards me, took a few steps forward and peed all over the front of my pants. Then he laughed again, zipped up his fly and walked out of the bathroom. 

I have no idea what I did at that point. I was dumbfounded. I still had to pee and I had to get back to class, so I guess I did both those things. But that was what school was like and that was pure Stuyvie – you never knew what he was going to do.

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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