Originally published at The Rumpus on August 17, 2011.
Selected for reprint by EiC, Alysia Sawchyn.
Even though I’m Jewish, I never went to summer camp.
A popular girl in the sixth grade called me “Pizza Legs,” because of my purple spider veins and red splotches and moles—bright, textured flaws that looked like pizza toppings on pale skin. During a pool party, I refused to get in a swimsuit, and a different popular girl called me a lesbian. What did a lesbian look like, I wondered. I guess they looked like me. I tried not to look like me. I’d now like to imagine what summer camp could have been if everything were different:
Shwayder Camp, Idaho Springs, 1997. This summer has been—without rival—the best summer of my life. Life, I am sure, will continue on this trajectory.
For one thing, I am really tan. For another, I’m super heterosexual.
I’m the most popular Jewish girl at Jewish sleep-away camp. The reasons I am popular can be broken down into simple math, which is good for me because I am a lady:
Number of cigarettes I’ve smoked this summer: 7!!!
Number of times I was told I looked hot in my two-piece swimsuit: about a million.
Number of boys who’ve loved me at camp: all.
Number of times I’ve Frenched: 0.
I’ve had a few boyfriends so far, but I haven’t gone to first base with any of them because my body is a temple like Temple Emmanuel.
It’s the last day of camp, and I’ve been waiting all summer for tonight. I’ve been waiting all summer to do the thing, to let the most special boy at camp French my face for the first time.
After I won the championship tennis-racket baseball game today, the girls from Bunk 7 and the boys from Bunk 5 built a celebratory fire, and we sat around eating the best s’mores, strumming guitars, smoking cigarettes, and nursing top-shelf Scotch. Yeah, we’re thirteen, but we’re all interested in becoming addicted to things.
As the fire roared and the night grew darker, the kids began leaving in pairs to go express their emotions physically to each other. Around the fire disappeared Katie the Counselor, Peroxide Chick, Musical Theater Boy, “Musical Theater is Not Real Theater” Theater Gal, The Christian, Jazz Hands, Guitar Dude, Athletic Girl, Jenny the Slut, Just Regular Jenny, and Tripp—Tripp, who wore shorts so short you could tell he was a bona fide Jew.
Unlike Tripp, most of the boys at camp–excuse the Yiddish–were douchbags, but never to me. Certain idiots and schmucks would hurt other girls’ feelings by calling the pale ones “Pizza Legs” or accusing the pre-pubescent feminists of man-hating, but those guys were lining up to love me. I almost can’t believe it, because it seemed so real during the academic school year that I was unliked, that my heart was splintered, that I could have ever been alone considering how many people surround me now.
“Relationships are a noose,” I overheard Guitar Dude say to Tripp. Tripp was the counselor of Bunk 7. He was like a god, cut from Greek-brand marble and infused with poetry. Tripp high-fived Guitar Dude, who continued to talk about his math frat and all the sex he’d done.
My bestie Just Regular Jenny and I shared an appletini, and after a few sips, I felt warm and bold and—most important—wasted. I turned toward Tripp, slowly pulling my hair out of a ponytail and shaking my luscious locks at him (I thought I saw him produce an erection).
Tripp looked at me, and I knew the dream-catcher I made in arts and crafts worked. Within moments, Tripp and I were having serious eye sex.
Guitar Dude started playing “Your Body Is a Wonderland” while Tripp sauntered up to me.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” I retorted.
“Nice tan,” he smirked.
“Thanks, I’m just naturally like this,” I guffawed.
He smiled, and I knew what he was going to say next.
He pushed up the sunglasses he was wearing even though it was nighttime. “You’ve grown up a lot since before yesterday when we last talked about what a lesbian you’re not,” he said.
He’d noticed. He’d noticed I said I wasn’t a lesbian when I said I’m into cock.
He stepped closer to me until I inhaled his exhale. This had never happened before, so understandably, I froze.
“You got an Altoid?” he asked. This was code; this had great significance.
“I thought you’d never ask,” I said and took out my tin of mints.
We sucked them down and thought deep and separate thoughts. And then I very gradually recalibrated my body into a casual attitude ready to receive his mouth. We pressed our faces together and moved.
We were young. We were before sexual revolutions. We were new and ready and unencumbered.
“You French great,” he said.
“You same,” I said.
“My soul is finger-banging your soul right now,” he said.
I knew just what he meant.
He smiled at me and tucked my hair behind my ear and told me he was familiar with the work of Anaïs Nin. I had no idea what that meant.
“This might be a phase,” he said. “Or,” his eyes pouring into mine, “this might be falling in love.” We continued a kiss that had been waiting to happen all summer, both of us tasting of appletini and wantonness.
“Wait.” I put my fingers to his lips and told him to shut up and stop tonguing me for a second.
“Tripp,” I whispered. “I have to be honest with you, when we started hanging out seriously a few minutes ago, I thought we’d just be friends with benefits. But things change. People change. I’ve changed. I’m coming to you for the first time as a woman, a woman who loves a man, and who wants to hold him and make him a sandwich when he asks and do his laundry one day and yes, be the little spoon post-coital tristesse. Tripp, the literal translation of that is ‘after sex the spirit is sad.’ But anyway, Tripp, I love that you like me. And I don’t care that you’re the classic bad boy who fell through the cracks and never learned to read. The fact is I’ve always wanted you. Because you’re so hot. And that’s all that matters to me, is you, and how hot you are.”
At the end of my speech Tripp looked at me like I was crazy.
“Elissa,” he said. “You’re crazy.” And I felt scared.
“But,” he said. “I love you. I didn’t know it until this very moment for sure, but now I know, and it feels like nothing I’ve ever known before, and it feels so right. I love you.”
“Say it again,” I said.
“I love you.”
“LOUDER,” I screamed from my finger-banged soul.
“My voice doesn’t get any louder than this,” he confided sincerely.
We Frenched for like a minute, you guys, seriously.
Then, inexplicably, Tripp got really sad.
“Tripp,” I said, “You can tell me what you’re feeling.”
He started to cry, which I found unattractive.
“I knew this would happen,” he said, “that I would talk to you and fall in love with you, and you would leave me for the eighth grade. This is over, isn’t it?”
I shushed him and told him a secret about love and loss, and he relaxed.
“What’s going to happen tomorrow?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “We’ll see the world, maybe have to start seeing other people. We’ve got a couple weeks until school starts, and I have to start focusing on my career. These past few minutes have been the best of my life, and I promise I’ll never forget you and how you made me feel like I was close to G-d. But we both have to be adults now and that means being depressed and alone and also having priorities, and my first priority is to test out this lesbian theory, because you never know. So, goodbye, Tripp. I’m really gonna miss you.”
Please submit your own funny writing to our Rumpus submission manager powered by Submittable. See first: our Funny Women Submission Guidelines.
To read other Funny Women pieces and interviews, see the archives.