What I Did on my Summer Vacation

Hi, I’m back! Did you miss me? My pets sure did! But that’s because they depend on me for food and water, and since none of you do I can’t imagine why I’m looking for emotional support from a bunch of people I don’t even know. Screw you anyway!

I’m kidding of course. That was just pro forma hostility, I’m all relaxed from having been on the one week of vacation working two jobs like a two job dog all year long affords me, and consequently I’ll be drained of the desire to hate you for at least another few days. Plus, I don’t even know what ‘pro forma’ means!
And yes I damn well do work two jobs! My job job, the one with the regular paycheck, and obsequious, soul crushing fawning to authority that society demands, and “freelancing”, for which I rarely if ever get paid. That’s what this is, content that you all receive free of charge, which is why I usually hate you, a reaction I find fully justified. You pay for HBO which you never watch except for late night, watered down, boob porn ‘documentaries’ when your family is asleep. I don’t see why you can’t throw me a few bucks now and then.

So! That being said, I bet you are just DYING to know what I did on my summer vacation, and being as I am so relaxified from it, I’ll share. It beats the hell out of coming up with an actual idea for an article.

PACKING

It’s really, really important that your wife and kids bring as much of their stuff on vacation as is physically possible to cram in your car without causing structural damage, and there’s a very good reason too. It keeps you from bringing anything you want beyond underwear, socks and if everyone is lucky, a bathing suit. But that’s okay, I can always get what I need when I get there, because I never, never vacation anyplace they don’t have liquor stores.

TRAFFIC

Boy, oh, boy, did we ever see a lot of traffic! It’s a shame I’m not a traffic enthusiast. If I enjoyed slow moving vehicles the way some people enjoy birding, I’d have been as ecstatic as an avid bird watcher! That’s an idea that might make sense if not for the facts that bird watchers are an insufferable bunch of stammering binocular fetishists and that there is no such thing as a traffic enthusiast. My family and I killed time with several classic car games like ‘Twenty Questions’, ‘I Spy’, ‘One-hundred bottles of Beer on the Wall’ and ‘If You Kids Don’t Stop Singing that God Damn Song, Daddy Will Show you Something Very Unpleasant a Beer Bottle is Good For.’ Later the kids napped and I daydreamed about how cool it would be if I’d spent a lifetime training as a contortionist so I could roll down my window and twist my body into a shape that would allow me to pee into expensive convertibles as they drifted past at five miles an hour.

THE BEACH HOUSE

Finding a beach house that has enough room for me and my family, my brother and his family, my Mom and her ‘fancyman’ (His term, blame him) AND that we can afford is challenging. By ‘challenging’ here, I mean if you don’t leave with scabies there really isn’t much to complain about. On the other hand, if I stop complaining just because there’s nothing to complain about, I will have nothing to write. Why? Because I am a ‘one trick pony’ writing wise. I say ‘writing wise’ so that you will not confuse it with the ‘one trick pony’ I believe I wrote about at some point in connection with a family vacation I took to Mexico that was not really a family vacation in that my family was not with me and I was not vacationing so much as falling off the wagon. If I have never written about that particular episode and the painful life lessons associated with it, or written about it but never mentioned the ‘one trick pony’ I ran into, I guess you could say I’m sorry I brought it up now, and hats off to the Mexican Emergency Medical services who at least in this case were far more professional than one would imagine. Did I mention the group that stayed at the house right before us left a truly impressive number of empty beer bottles in the recycling and apparently peed down the central air conditioning grate whenever the bathroom got too busy? ‘Cause I was not okay with that.

LEARNING ON VACATION ISN’T JUST FOR KIDS

Never stop learning, that’s my motto. I try to do some educational stuff every vacation, and not just for the kids. For instance, did you know dolphins let one hemisphere of the brain sleep at a time, so they don’t drown? That was a new one on me, and pretty amazing. Here’s another thing I learned: Sleeping in the alley behind the beach house is fairy uncomfortable, but kids on vacation want you to get up early and take them to the beach. Could they give a shit what size your hangover is? They could not.

THE BEACH

Sun screening your kids is a huge pain in the ass, but it’s nothing compared to having whiny, badly sunburned kids. The wife is Irish, so we use SPF 50 on the kids, which works better than either the traditional Irish folk remedy, a paste made from beer and potatoes, or telling them ignorant, racist jokes. For myself, I’m pretty casual with the sunscreen, because A.) I’m swarthy and/or dirty, and B.), skin cancer is as good a way as any to check out early on the endless series of hassles and headaches called life, and your family can collect your life insurance, leaving them somewhat less bitter than if you hang yourself.

DRINKING

It occurs to me that I joke about excessive drinking in a lot of my work. It’s possible I’ve lead you to believe that I am an irresponsible drinker, perhaps even an alcoholic. Nothing could be further from the truth. While I certainly have a drink now and then, you should remember that I’m a humorist, and so I exaggerate and make substitutions. Many times when I write about being ‘drunk’ or ‘hung over’, I’m just taking poetic license with an incident that actually involved drugs, firearms or a wide variety of questionably legal physical practices.

WATCHING THE ‘SUN SET’

You watch the sunset. I am watching college girls in bathing suits. Thanks to the miracle of mirrored sun glasses, I can watch them all I like without my wife and kids being any the wiser, unless they read this which seems unlikely considering the esteem in which they hold my ‘career’. And quite frankly I can watch whatever the hell I want as long as I don’t do anything else, at least that’s what my parole officer says. I wish he’d also said that while watching I shouldn’t make fire engine noises as he’d have spared me some embarrassment and himself some paperwork.

The Best Summer of Your Life

Hey, hi, I am so glad you’re all finally here. In just three days the kids will be here, so I suggest you enjoy the beautiful peace and quiet while you can. If you came up in your own car up that’s great, good for your days off and really useful for mail runs into town, the occasional emergency room run or whatever, so make sure I have your registrations and licenses and keys so I can lock ’em up in the office safe where none of the kids or other staff can ‘borrow’ them. If you came up on the bus, I just wanna say I’m sorry about the bathroom, but you know, if you have them unlocked, the company charges me extra and I didn’t wanna add that on to, you know, the bus fee I deducted from your end of summer pay out. And Stewart, I saw you had your Mom drop you off here, and that’s… you know… whatever.

So to start, in all friendship, I wanna say welcome to Camp Silver Lake for the Arts, and the best summer of your entire life. I know John, Dylan, Stovepipe, Mister Waterfront himself over there, Old Lax Dave and some of the other lifers will tell you, none of you are ever gonna have a more rewarding job than summer camp counselor. I know I didn’t when I was a counselor and my Dad ran this place, and now that he’s kind of stepped back to enjoy his golden years and sort of passed the reins to me, it’s even more rewarding. So I guess when I said you would never have a more rewarding job, I was talking about you guys, not me. But that’s my job, not yours, and if you run into my Dad at any point and he says otherwise, just let me know, ’cause the Doctor says he’s not supposed to get out of bed or be around kids at all at this point, just for legal reasons.
So anyways, for the majority of you for whom this is your first summer here I need to go over some stuff, and for the rest of you, if you could just shut up so I can hear myself think. If you can’t, go now, because in all friendship I’ve heard every wise ass joke you’re gonna make during this talk and it’s not like they were funny the last six years. If guys your age still have to take seasonal work like this you should be glad as hell I give it to you, no offense.

First of all I gotta address the fact that a little birdy told me that Stovepipe may have said something to all of you who took the bus up to the effect that all of the kids here are Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth, not that if it was, that should be a problem for anybody, but in case you’re wondering if this is one of those religion camps that prepares you for life on a Kibbutz, it is not. There are plenty of other camps that do that and there is nothing wrong with them, but that is not the market we are in. I don’t even know the Jew count, and I shouldn’t because it’s none of my business. My guess, though, is that easily a fifth of these kids are gentiles. God knows the Abezi kids are not Jews, which goes to show that a camp might feature a pork free menu for any number of reasons. Look, the point is, you open an arts camp in upstate New York, what the hell do you think it’s gonna fill up with? No offense to Stovepipe who is an excellent chef and can make six pounds of ground meat serve a hundred and forty eight kids and staff, but, and I think Dylan and Dave will back me up on this, his sense of humor is a little different on account of the plate in his skull, so you don’t have to listen to every word he says about the kids. We all love you, Stovepipe. You’re a camp legend. Sit down.

As it happens, I myself am a Jew. Just don’t nose that around on your days off ’cause it’s never really come up in town and we’re way the hell out in the middle of nowhere. Winter lasts a very long time up here, they get like three hours of daylight and do nothing but drink, go to church, snowmobile on the lake and share unpleasant theories around the wood stove. Which leads to another point, contrary to what you may hear in town this is not a summer program for mentally disturbed kids. It’s a summer camp for the arts for the non-sporty kid. And that means, yes, there are a fair number of kids here who could be described as mentally disturbed if you want to be cruel. There’s a lotta fat kids here, too and this isn’t a fat camp. Jesus, more than half these kids have inhalers, does that make this an Asthma camp? It does not. Also, this is not a make out camp. These kids are sophisticated, many from broken homes, what I’m saying is you put ’em out in the country for eight weeks, no TV, no internet, no cell phone, you take your eyes of them for six seconds they’re doing stuff a rabbit would be ashamed to be caught doing. You see any of that, you turn a hose on ’em. One little pregnancy can put a camp out of business. You think I’m kidding? There were more pregnancies in the summer camp industry last year than water skiing accidents, and there were a lot of water skiing accidents. I’m looking at you, Dave, on both counts.

Okay, so what have I covered? Not a Jew camp, not a disturbed kids camp, not a fat camp, not a make out camp… Oh! Right! I want to stress, and this is not just my rules, it is state and federal law, you absolutely cannot under any circumstances smack any of these kids around. You cannot lay so much as a finger on them. And if you don’t think there are going to be times you want to more than you have ever wanted anything in your life, than you have never had to share room with more than a dozen seven to fifteen year old mentally disturbed fat kids. Ironically, while it is against the rules, it is not against the law for them to hit you. You think asthmatic Jewish kids don’t hit? I’m here to tell you they do, very hard, often from behind, frequently in the dark. Also sometimes biting. The Abezi kids I happen to know for a fact in their own country have more than once killed servants, and here they have diplomatic immunity. If I have learned one thing in this business it is that you can be friendly with the kids, but you cannot be their friends. The same goes for me and you all, no offense, that’s just the way it is, something I have learned from bitter experience. Ask Dave. I practically grew up with the guy. We went here as kids. Did that stop him from driving my ski boat up on the lawn during parents weekend last summer? It did not. Why is he here again this summer? Because it’s good for my bottom line to have guys who’ll work for room and board, which some people have to take and like on account of regular work being so hard to come by for ex convicts and other camp owners not being eager to hire on middle aged alcoholics as waterfront directors. You wanna make friends this summer? I’ll letcha do dump runs, the place is full of garbage eating bears who are at least up front about the fact that they are animals and would much rather paw through old tires, broken bottles and diapers looking for rotting leftovers than do an honest god damn days work. Did I say anything about gay kids yet? Officially we don’t have any, as officially that’s not something kids know about themselves one way or another at this age, which is officially bullshit. What I am saying is, this is a summer camp that advertises its theater program. Stage Door Manner maybe has more gay kids than us. I bring this up not out of any prejudice, but because one of the first major events of the summer is the Fourth of July parade through town, which can be a lot of fun, but as counselors I need you to be on top of what some of your more sophisticated New York kids who choose a camp that advertises it’s theater program think is normal in terms of parade behavior and remind you again about the very long winter the local population go through, several of whom have less than a fourth grade education and I have seen with my own eyes buying their lunch at the bait and tackle shop. All I mean is, a word to the wise, in all friendship, it is just in your best interest to make sure these kids keep it under their hats.

So, what else? You get one period off a day, one day off a week, no days off the first and last week and the week of parents weekend. Head Counselor Ira Goldblatt will come up with a schedule and one week from now each and every one of you will come to him asking for your period and day off to be changed so you can have the same ones as whoever you have shacked up with by then. I’ll tell you now, forget it, because A, it takes everything Ira has in the brains department to do this even once, and B, by the time your first day off comes around you’ll be well into an inevitable round robin of sleep deprived sexual partnering that a few years from now you’ll look back on with either nostalgia or deep shame depending on the kind of person you turn out to be, which is as good a time as any to tell you that Stovepipe has genital herpes. Sorry, Stovepipe, but my lawyer made me absolutely promise to say that the first opportunity I got. Sit down.

Okay, with that I wanna say check yourself religiously for ticks, and if you are sleeping in Boys bunks two or three or any of the girls bunks do not under any circumstances use the plumbing until I get someone in there, which I sincerely hope is sometime tomorrow, but again, we are just about in the middle of nowhere. Meeting adjourned