Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer Lovin'

Summer loving, had me a blast
Summer loving, happened so fast
Met a girl, crazy for me
Met a boy, cute as can be

We have friends who belong to a private club situated in the rolling hills of Northeast Pennsylvania.  The club has been in existence since 1882 and encompasses 4,700 acres of property with three fish-stocked glacial lakes, a Swiss Gothic clubhouse built in 1899, and 65 cottages built by its members.  These cottages have been handed down, generation to generation.  Many families have spent decades of summers in this place.  Though small changes have been made to modernize over the years, such as men no longer have to wear a jacket and tie to breakfast at the clubhouse, it can feel as if you had accidentally stepped into a wormhole, transporting you to the early 20th century. 

This is where we spent our Labor Day weekend.  With our friends, Ralph and Pam.  

He showed off, splashing around 

Once settled in at the cottage, we made our way down to the lake, where Sophia hiked up her late 20th Century tied-died dress—an anachronism in this place—and was wading up to her tuchus. 

“Sophie, don’t raise your dress any higher!” I warned.  A lady does not bare her Princess Aurora underwear in mixed company.

“I’m not going to, Mom!” Sophie shot back, letting her dress skirt the water.

“Or get it soaked in the lake.”  She ignored me, splashing over to a young man with long light brown curls. 

Kevin and I stood with our friend Ralph, swatting at the gnats, which circled our heads thickly and seemed intent on flying directly into our eyes.

“Why don’t we take a walk in the woods?” Kevin suggested, “Perhaps they won’t bother us if we keep moving.”

“Sophie!  Please put your shoes back on.  We’re going to go for a walk.”

“I’m not ready yet!  I want to stay here with Walter!”  Walter was the sweet, curly haired gent, who was now digging at the shoreline with a giant yellow shovel. 

“Sophie.  You can see Walter down at the lake tomorrow.  We’re going exploring!”

Sophie climbed onto the dock and began an elaborate process of dipping her feet into the water, then putting her sandals on, then dunking her sandals back into the water. 

“Sophie!  You’re going to get your shoes all wet.  They’ll be uncomfortable.” I warned.

“Let her experience the consequences of her actions,” Kevin said, just to me.  And then louder.  “We’re going 1!   2!”

“Wait! Wait!” Cried Sophie.  “I’m getting my shoes on!  I’m doing it!”

“I love that the counting thing still works,” Kevin said to Ralph.

“And I want to know what you’re going to do the day that it doesn’t,” I smirked. 

Sophie came squishing over, but not before she turned and shouted to Walter, “See you at cocktail hour!

See you at cocktail hour?  We had been at the lake for about 45-minutes and she already had a date for the evening. 

“Who was that?” Kevin asked. 

“His name is Walter.  I’m meeting him for the cocktail hour.” 

“Well all right then.  I guess we’re going to the Cocktail Hour,” I replied.  I had previously been on the fence about Cocktail Hour. 

Summer sun, something’s begun
But, oh, oh the summer nights.

Sophie dressed with great care for the Cocktail Hour, which preceded the formal dinner and would end in something called The Grand March, all held up at the clubhouse.

She put on one outfit and discarded it for another, finally settling on a black and pink flowered sleeveless dress, made poufy by a crinoline, accessorized with a bolero jacket and her metallic pink Stride Rite sandals.  Uncertain what to wear, myself, I threw on a floor-length, ruffled gray maxi dress.  Kevin put on the requisite collared shirt and tie, which I knew he would be dying in, in the 80-degree weather. 

At the clubhouse, everyone was dressed in short, colorful summery garb:  Pink linen jackets.  Madras pants.  Cardigans.  Pearls.   Sophie, fit right in.  I, on the other hand, felt somewhat out-of-place, gathering my skirt in my hand to make it up the steps.  On the porch, members were socializing, drinks in hand.  The children had all made their way through the doors and into the main ballroom, leaping at the purple, silver helium balloons that had all floated up to the ceiling. 

Then we made a true love vow

Sophie hung back shyly, clinging to Kevin and I, until she spied her date.  “It’s Walter!” 

Walter was sporting a polo shirt, navy chino shorts with nautical embroidery, and crocs.  He looked adorable. Sophie grabbed his hand and the two of them ran around the room, sweating and smiling. 

Sophie eventually ran back to me.  “I found Walter!”

“I noticed.  Soph, how old is Walter. “  He looked about two to me.  Three at best. 

“I don’t know.  I’ll find out!”  She ran off and came back.  “He just turned four, and I love him!”  This was really moving way to fast.  What kind of strange magnetism did Walter possess?  She had never said “love” about anybody before, but her best friend, Leah, from across the street. 

“Walter doesn’t sound like a Jewish name to me.”  I did my very best imitation of my grandmother. 

“Mom!  I’m only half Jewish.  I’m half Christian.”  Sophie reminded me, he kid is sharp. 

“Well, then.  What are his job prospects?” I joked.

“His what?”

“Ask him what he wants to be when he grows up.”  I was shouting to be heard over the din.

Sophie rand off again, and returned a moment later, “A police officer.”

I sighed, a difficult life, the wife of a police officer.    “Okay.  Go!  Enjoy!” 

We stayed out, ‘till 10 o’clock

They rand about while I sipped my Gin and Tonic, and Kevin sweated in is long sleeve shirt and tie until dinnertime.  We found our assigned table on the porch.  Went through the buffet line, and carried our stacked plates to our seats.  Sophie tore through her prime rib, “I love meat!” she declared, and ate, with equal gusto, the cornmeal breaded fish that had been pulled from one of the club’s lakes. 

Inside the ballroom, visible from the window across from our table, they were setting up music equipment and strobe lighting.  Someone at the table adjacent to ours handed out glow necklaces.  Sophie didn't hesitate to run up and ask for one. 

“Be sure to say thank you!” I called after her. 

“Mom, can I please go back into the ballroom? All the other kids are there!” 

I looked down at her ravaged plate.  “Yes.  Sure.”  I waved her away.

“That’s the beauty of this place,” Ralph’s wife Pam said.  “You don’t have to worry about the kids here.  Anywhere they go, they’re safe.”  I peaedk in through the window.  Sophie and Walter were shrieking and chasing each other.  They rand down the porch steps onto the great lawn.  We could see their necklaces glowing in the dark. 

Sophie ran back to the table, “We’re pretending there are monsters out there!”

“Okay, I say. Just be careful.  It’s pretty dark out there.”

“Okay, Mom!”  Sophie was drunk on freedom. 

Before long, she was back at the table.  “Mom!  It’s time for the Grand March!  And Walter is going to be my partner!  Come on!”  Tables were being pushed back against the porch rails, and Sousa was pouring out the open doors.  “It’s starting!  Come on!”   

“What is the Grand March?” I asked Ralph. 

“It’s something unique to this place.  But it’s too loud for us.”  He and Pam agreed to meet us back at the cottage. 

Kevin and I joined Sophia inside.  A great line had formed.  Everybody, expect perhaps some folks who had quietly slipped out like Ralph and Pam, were scurrying to queue up.  They were marching in place to the music.  Granted, some of the participants carried bottles of wine or spirits in their hands, and few looked sober, but no one was sitting this one out. 

He got friendly, holding my hand

We finally met Walter’s parent.  We shook hands.  Sophie tried to hold Walter’s hand, but he was refusing to hold hands with anyone.

“You can pretend to hold my hand,” his father said, reaching out to him, but not touching. 

“No!” Cried Walter.  “I don’t want to hold hands.”  Perhaps this was a match made in heaven. 

Suddenly we were marching—all of us, en masse—in time to the music.  We marched down the hallway, through club room it’s walls covered with unfortunate animal heads, out the French doors to the porch, around porch and back in through the ballroom.  We were directed by a woman with a microphone, separated by sex and then rejoined by our partners, separated by family, and then reunited with our neighbors.  Everyone was smiling, greeting each other, keeping step.  We snaked back and forth through the ballroom, until we formed many parallel lines, which finally devolved and dissolved into dancing. 

Walter reached for Sophie’s hand. 

Sophia and Walter sat pooped on great wing-backed chairs.  As a kid,  it would have been me sitting on these wing-back chairs, feeling uncomfortable, shy and self-conscious, eyeing everyone suspiciously and making snarky comments.  But now, I was having the time of my life. 

“Come on,” I tried to coax Sophie out onto the dance floor, “dance with me.” 

“Me and Walter are tired.  We just want to relax.” 

So be it.  Kevin twirled me around, and we danced as we hadn’t in years until he could no longer stand to be melting and slipped outside.    I half danced by Sophie, half by Walter’s parents, who were also trying to coax him to get up, but I kind of felt like a third wheel. 

Sophie leaned over and whispered something to Walter.  He nodded and Sophie stood up.   “Can we go back to the cottage now, Mom?”

For once, I had outlasted her.  She was ready for bed.  We found Kevin and walked back in the darkness. 

“Walter and I are going to meet down at the lake tomorrow.”  She smiled sleepily as she changed for bed and we brushed teeth. 

It turned colder, that’s where it ends.

The next day at breakfast at the clubhouse, Sophie spied Walter’s mother, but not Walter.

“Where is he?” Sophie asked us, her brows knitted with concern. 

Kevin agreed to do reconnaissance.  He returned with bad news.  “Walter has pink eye.  He’s been quarantined.  He has to stay inside all day.  His mother didn’t want him infecting the other kids.”

“So I’m not going to see him at the beach today?” 

“I’m afraid not.” 

“But it’s the last day!”  

“Would you like to go to the play room?” Kevin replied, using the time-tested tool of redirection.

“Okay!”  Sophie skipped off behind him. 

Walter was soon forgotten.

Summer Dreams, Ripped at the Seams
But…oh…Those Summer Nights.

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