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wet hot american blog post.

7 Aug

This evening I was watching this killer depressing Australian film (I’m calling it a film because it was really highbrow and I think that’s like why they made it so artistically, is so that we’d call it a film) and I got up to change my babygirl’s diaper during a really emotional scene in which the schizophrenic murderess is reflecting on her behavior in an extremely close shot. The whole entire time I was changing her diaper all they showed was her from the shoulders up, just keeping the camera focused on her face, not moving, just staring and staring. It was so heavy it almost brought me to tears, and I felt so fucking genius for recognizing that this was a major turning point in the character, and that the filmmaker was showing that “things change but things stay the same” and this whole evolution of the character without anything physically happening. Even the score was stopped. I commended myself and ran downstairs to high five my film degree, so thrilled that I could appreciate such incredible art. Then I realized that I had actually paused the film, and in the scene she was really just about to answer the phone and then brush her hair. So yeah. Fuck you, film degree. You clearly taught me nothing.

In other news, I don’t know if we’ve discussed this before, but I’m a Jew and Harry is not. These days, this is pretty much insignificant, but we do differ in two extremely distinct ways:

#1 – He eats Genoa salami and I eat Hebrew National.

#2 – He did not go to sleepaway away camp.

We only had to deal with the first issue one time, when he bought Genoa at Zabar’s for Hannukah dinner at my apartment and I laughed in his face and then he laughed in my face because beef salami is NASTY according to him. But once we established that if my Nana will be in attendance then we refrain from purchasing the Genoa and then all other times we can go balls out in Italian charcuterie, it was the end of that issue.

The camp thing is a whole other ballgame, especially between the months of February and November, which I consider to be “camp season,” whether or not I have been involved with the place in any capacity in the past decade. Frankly it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since I hung out on the White Rock (“hub of all things social”) or cheered for the Red Team during Olympics (color war is too violent of a connotation, although one particular year the teams were the Red Army v. Blue Navy, which quite literally is a color war) but that means nothing. I can’t look at anything without having some camp related anecdote to accompany it. Let’s use right now for example. I’m laying in my bed wearing a tank top that I tie dyed during some afternoon activity. There’s a hat hanging on my mirror that brings me back to the time I stole one of the boy’s UMass hats because it had the embroidered “M” pulled out and I thought it was the greatest most clever thing I had ever seen in my entire life. Pretty much the only object that doesn’t make me think of camp is my cell phone. But then again, it’s currently loaded to the gills with old photos, so there’s really nowhere to turn. For some reason, I really just can’t resist the urge to tell Harry every camp story, as well as each teeny tiny minute detail leading up to it. At this point he either hates me or has mastered the art of tuning me out and I think we’re all on the same page when we say that we know the answer is the latter.

Anyway, to free Harry from the misery that is constant reminiscing about something that he did not participate in, nor does he necessarily have any interest in, I frequently hang out with camp friends. Because nobody cares about your camp stories (especially, it turns out, when you’re over 30) except for your camp friends. So we congregate in the corner of a bar (just the other day, in fact) and we talk about who we had crushes on, or that it’s totally weird that we have kids now because we are all clearly not mature enough to handle that sort of situation, or that we’re old because our campers’ campers have campers (To equate this to real life, I am like a great grandmother. In fact, when a counselor of ours showed up, I introduced him to my campers who were there, which is just like freakazoid city because the last time I saw them most of them didn’t have training bras yet and now they’re like 24, as their grandpa. Eleven years and three generations apart. You just don’t see that everyday). The most difficult thing to do is figure out what to wear to these things. For example, I once wore a bedazzled and reworked (by me) camp shirt to a reunion and the comments ranged from “Why would you wear that in public?” to “That’s such typical you,” which was an incredible blow to my ego and I still haven’t quite gotten over the trauma. This last time I wore neon from like head to toe (but in a good way! I swear! I think?) except earlier that morning I decided to follow the advice of some fat hippie facialist and wash my hair with coconut oil, so it looked soaking wet all night, or like maybe I should wring it out and make a stirfy for everyone with the drippings. Lesson learned. This reunion thing is an evolution. Next one I’m wearing jeans, a black tank top and a fucking ponytail.

Don’t think that my camp is the only camp where you spend the rest of your life just wishing that it were summer and you were 15. As far as I know, the only way someone is going to be unenthusiastic about their sleepaway experience is if a) you’re socially handicapped and nobody liked you and the only counselor who you really related to was a Russian chick named Marushka who played the piano in all the plays but spoke not a lick of English, or b) you went to theater camp and were either a straight guy or not into theater. Other than that, every person who went to sleepaway camp is obsessed with sleepaway camp. In fact, I’m currently developing an iPad app called “The JAP MAP” which geographically indicates the location of each sleepaway camp in the northeast, and offers special features such as where are the best places for underage counselors to get wasted on their days off, and where is the best ice cream to take your campers to in the van when you’re coming back from a softball game at another camp, and where the best Orthodontist and Rabbi are in town so you can figure out where you’re gonna send your kid to have his braces adjusted and his Torah portion memorized by the time his Bar Mitzvah rolls around in September, and where there’s decent chinese food/pizza/phone reception/shoes/pot, and spoiler alerts as to when Olympics is going to break out and gossip about which counselors are banging which junior counselors. It’s going to be fucking awesome, and if you try to steal my idea I will clobber you with all the best lawyers that my camp has produced in the past twenty years so watch your ass.

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wet hot american reunion. (this post is way too long for people who didn’t go to my camp but i refuse to edit for you losers)

30 Jun

Like many other Jews from the tri-state area, much of who I am today is a result of Coed Naked Sleepaway Camp*. How I talk, dress, think, shave my legs, write, laugh and socialize all evolved at least partially up a windy dirt road in Honesdale, PA that some of the counselors once got into a car accident on, one of whom was my crush of the summer and I was devastated but luckily they were wearing their seat belts so there’s your lesson of the night. Wear your seatbelt when you’re on a dark unpaved road, especially if a teenage girl is 3 miles away pining for you on her bottom bunk.

So when an invitation popped up on Facebook for a little reunion action in NYC, I naturally jumped at the opportunity to booze it up with some of the faces who shaped me. Beforehand I met up with three bunkmates for an organic dinner at a place that smelled a little bit like a dumpster which was so upsetting because that sort of scent is off-putting when you’re trying to eat some free range chicken fajitas and drink vodka and savor the unbelievably special time that we were having together.

I mostly posted this photo because my boobs look so awesome. Also because these are my loveys.

See the photo? That’s the four of us. There’s Lex, who for more than one summer was the “Frick” to my “Frack” and we wore matching beanie hats and would sing the Violent Femmes at the top of our lungs and get in heaps of trouble for being too annoying. Out of all of us, she won the camp lottery, because she married the younger (and less douchey) son of the baseball coach and the arts and crafts lady. Nobody has

Ker’s there too. She’s a diehard Devils fan and when I started at camp I had an Islanders blanket, teddy bear and jersey so we were rivals from the start, except that all we could possibly do was bond over the fact that instead of putting on makeup during shower hour, we wanted to sneak off to the hockey rink and practice our slap shots with the guys. Oddly enough, neither one of us became a lesbian. Also the Islanders pretty much haven’t made it to the playoffs since then, so Ker is definitely a more enthusiastic athletic supporter to this day.

And then there’s Amanda (ok, here it is. I know you’re excited for this story, I’m freaking out don’t get mad at me). So Amanda is like the living legend of camp because she was enrolled there pretty much at birth. She had been, at a certain time in history, the youngest kid in the camp, and that is the real-life equivalent of being Suri Cruise. You are adored and fawned over by every camper and counselor, and as you get older you quite organically become the key trendsetter of the entire (camp) world. That was Amanda. Cool, confident, not overly un-bitchy to me during my first year (How was my mom supposed to know that I needed to bring Tevas and Gap jeans and  flannel shirts to camp, and not only Umbros and Looney Tunes t-shirts? Couldn’t you cut a dork a break?). As the years progressed, Amanda got nicer and nicer to me, up until a point that we were actually pretty close friends. Towards the end of our second to last year as campers, I borrowed a pair of Amanda’s cutoff shorts with a black and white racing stripe down the side of the leg and I just thought they were like the greatest thing ever ever ever, partially because they didn’t make me look as fat as I actually was, and 99% because they were Amanda’s and therefore cool. Well you can imagine my shock and dismay when I unpacked my camp trunk back at home and out popped those cutoffs, complete with her name tag sewn into the waistband.

I wore the SHIT out of those puppies, through hail and snow and sleet. They made me feel like I was somebody cool, not that Looney Tunes nerd from yesteryears. And then when the birds started chirping and the tulips bloomed, I began to panic, and freaked out that my cutoff days would be cut off fo’ real. So I did what any weirdo like myself would do in the situation. I borrowed a stitch remover thingy from my mom’s sewing basket and I popped those racing strips and that name tag off the shorts, and voila! Unidentifiable cutoff shorts that made my legs look less fat and my face way more cool! I wore them on nervously that whole summer, freaking out that she’d recognize them but she didn’t. Nor did she the next summer, or the summer after that. I wore the cutoffs religiously for the next decade. They were my treasure. And then one day they ripped. It was about then that my friendship with Amanda took a little break. I was crushed. I felt like I had lost both of them, and that my world would come spiraling down. So I did what I thought would be the best possible option.

I turned the cutoffs into a skirt. A skirt that I have worn to every concert, honeymoon, beach trip and barbecue that I’ve had in recent memory. The perfect specimen of skirt. A skirt for the ages. That maybe, someday, my babygirl will wear in the middle of the night when she goes on a raid to visit Amanda’s babyboy in his bunk across the camp. Crazier things have happened. Ask our old counselors, who got married and had babies.

So after our stinky (yet still delicious and nutritious) meal, we headed over to the actual reunion, and I honestly wasn’t nervous in the slightest (rare for me, because even though I come off as like a real toughguy social butterfly queen of the world, I’m totally a misfit when it comes to conversating).  I was cool as a cucumber, because if you went to camp then you know that there’s a certain comfort level that’s innate for all of us when we’re together. Putting us in one room produces this like big smiling hug from the heavens. Cause when we’re together, we’re not alone.

The room was hot as fuck. Everyone aged better than I expected they might.

Ker’s counselor crush was there, as was Amanda’s old fling “The Snake.” Lex’s husband was there with his older brother who there’s no way I’ll mention in here because he likes country music but refuses to go to a concert with me and I just think that’s ridiculous. One of the old hockey counselors was there, and he told me that the pair of banana boxer shorts that I stole from him fifteen years ago glows in the dark and I never knew. I don’t know how that’s possible considering I wore them nearly as much as the cutoffs. (Treasures are vast when you got to a coed sleep away camp.) “Just put them in the light and then put them in the dark. I really think they glow.” If that’s the case I’m totally wearing them to the next reunion.

Nobody danced, because that’s the way it works when you’ve got a room full of Jews. Plus we’re all really old now. Plus the only time we ever danced was to the square dance caller or Ron Dagan, the world famous guy who sings Puff the Magic Dragon like it’s nobody’s business.

I need to stop. I generally get very antsy this time of the year to go be a kid again and frolic down the path to the lake, but this reunion thing really put me over the edge. I feel like this must be what crack is like. I got a taste and I want more.

1996.

I’m so lucky (as are you) that camp turned me into this fucking amazing human being (who is not narcissistic at all, no matter what Lex’s husband’s douchey brother says). And even though I never got to make out with the dirt road car accident counselor, (who now apparently lives in Texas and makes a living popping out babies) I don’t regret one wink of those summers. (Don’t worry, I did just fine for myself. Especially, as we discussed last night, my last summer as a counselor, during which I fluttered about with guys from countries all over the world, even Utah, and wound up with a younger Junior Counselor from Riverdale who came to the Island for a date the next summer and I insisted that instead of going to the movies where I felt like things might get too physical for my prude self that we drive 3 hours to camp so that we could have a Midori Sour with our old friends and then turn around after like 45 minutes and drive back again, and he tried to kiss me on the way but I got nervous and rear ended someone in traffic on the LIE. My bad.)

*Sidebar: It was a t-shirt, mom. Remember? You bought them for me at the flea market. “Coed Naked Hockey – It’s twice as nice on the ice!” We really did wear clothes almost all the time at camp. Stop panicking, you did not sent me to a nudist camp and for that I thank you.