A SUMMER PLACE

It was 1966 but it feels like only yesterday.

My sister had just landed her first real job for a large company in Manhattan. Her boss was a department executive; he probably made a pretty good salary because he owned a summer beach house in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. For my parents – simple, hard-working people from The Bronx – that was equivalent to being a millionaire.

You can imagine our amazement when we were offered use of the beach house for a week. The only beach we knew was our local Orchard Beach; believe me, that was a far cry from the idyllic little seaside town of Barnegat Bay.

Looking back, the house wasn’t exactly Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs estate, but it wasn’t Daniel Boone’s stark log cabin, either. If was fully stocked with everything anyone could need for a little seaside getaway; all we brought were clothes and suntan lotion. We’d never been to the shore so this was “heaven on earth”, as my Dad put it. I can still picture that redwood house right on the water’s edge; it seemed like we could see for miles watching yachts and cabin cruisers sailing by. The sunsets were biblical, like something out of a Cecil B. DeMille movie.

We were not wealthy people by any stretch but we made the most of that vacation. We ate all our meals at the house; most dinners consisted of something Dad would barbeque while watching the bikini-clad women walking on the beach. Once or twice we went out to a seafood restaurant and we even had lobster!

As fabulous as the seashore was, we were rather far from any activities or amusement parks and there wasn’t much to occupy my 15-year-old self. Then one night I noticed a small bonfire on the beach and heard the carefree laughter of teenagers. I begged my parents to let me walk down to see what was going on but they were reluctant; they finally agreed with one stipulation – they had to come with me.

The idea of my parents chaperoning me was mortifying but I figured I had to suck it up if there was a ghost of a chance of having any fun. So that night my mother, father and I went for a casual stroll on the beach. I kept about ten feet or so behind my parents hoping the other kids would think I was by myself. Music was playing and marshmallows were roasting on long sticks. Everyone was tan and blonde and beautiful – and that’s when I saw him. He looked just like Troy Donohue from ‘A Summer Place’. He glanced up as we walked by and smiled and I fell hopelessly in love.

Thankfully my parents quietly observed without engaging anyone in conversation. Satisfied it wasn’t a remake of “Reefer Madness”, we walked back to the beach house but not before I had a chance to look over my shoulder and give Troy a little wave. He grinned and waved back; I was in heaven. I knew I had to go to the next bonfire – alone.

I guess being out in the sun all day fried my parent’s brains a bit. When I nonchalantly asked them the next night if I could walk down to the bonfire by myself for a little while, they agreed! Thank goodness my 19-year-old sister considered herself too mature for a “silly teen beach party” and didn’t want to tag along.

The group was friendly and waved me over. I casually headed straight for Troy and sat down next to him. The kids were into Jan and Dean and The Beach Boys; I was a Beatles girl but I wasn’t going to let that get in the way. I also had my first beer that night and found I liked it quite a bit. By the end of the night, Troy and I were holding hands and agreed to meet again the following night.

That was the most blissful week of my young life. There were lots of kisses and petting and professions of love but we didn’t go beyond 2nd base. All I knew was I’d never been as happy or excited to be with someone as I was with Troy.

At the end of the week we exchanged phone numbers and promised to call each other but that never happened. It’s ok; none of my friends can say they spent a week making out on the beach with Troy Donohue.

NAR © 2022

 

 

EYES WIDE SHUT

Pamela sat huddled in the corner of the school office, her hands tightly clutching the sweater of her school uniform around her. The button of her blouse was undone and the sleeve was torn at the shoulder. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes swollen from crying and she chewed her bottom lip nervously. No one paid any attention except to toss an occasional accusatory glance her way. 

She ran her fingers through her dark hair, realizing her pony tail had come undone. She sniffled and wiped her nose on the sleeve of her sweater. Staring down at her penny loafers, she was startled by the sudden shrill ringing of the phone on the secretary’s desk. 

Yes, sir. Right away, sir” the secretary said into the phone, then hung up and called out “Pamela, Principal Hoffman will see you now.”

Pamela rose slowly and gathered her school books, still clutching her sweater. “Quickly, Pamela! You mustn’t keep Principal Hoffman waiting!” the secretary snapped at her. 

Pamela entered the principal’s office and was was shocked to see the drama coach Mr. Booker there. She quickly looked away, her face turning crimson. She felt naked standing there before them, their lecherous eyes staring at her. 

“Well, Pamela, do you know why you’re here?” asked Principal Hoffman. 

Pamela looked down at the floor shaking her head ‘no’. 

“Look at me and answer the question, you insolent little slut!” yelled the principal, excited by his increasing erection. 

Tears ran down her cheeks as she looked at both men, the expression on Mr. Booker’s face filling her with dread. 

He slowly walked up to Pamela saying “You little liar. You know why you’re here. You came to me behind the curtain after play rehearsal, rubbed up against me and tried to kiss me.” He reached out and grabbed her chin. “Admit it now before you get in more trouble!” and his filthy mind thought of all the things he’d like to do to her. 

Pushing his hand off her face, Pamela cried out “No! I didn’t do anything! You did! You’re the liar!” 

Booker raised his hand to slap her but Principal Hoffman banged his fist on the desk. “Pamela, this is a Christian school and we do not tell lies nor do we act in promiscuous ways. Now admit what Mr. Booker said is true.” 

She remained silent and shook her head in defiance.

“Fine, Pamela. You’re dismissed. We will be calling your parents this evening to discuss your behavior.” 

Pamela left the office and ran home. She knew her parents wouldn’t return from work for another few hours. She threw some clothes in a suitcase and called her older sister. “Mia” she cried into the phone. 

“Pammy, what’s wrong?” Mia asked. 

All Pamela said was “Mr. Booker.” 

“Listen, Pammy” Mia said. “Mom and Dad didn’t believe me and they won’t believe you. Take the bus to Paramus and I’ll pick you up. You’ll be safe with me.” 

Pamela left her house and never looked back. 

NAR © 2019

THE DANGEROUS GAMES WE PLAY

Tuesday, 10/27/1961

Dear Diary: There’s a new boy in school named Carter. He’s so cool. He’s part black .. light mocha skin with amazing green eyes. I dig him. If my parents find out I’m dead! They’re so prejudiced! Gonna dream about him tonight. 

Wednesday, 10/28/1961

Dear Diary: Fabulous news! Carter is now my Biology partner! I know he’s into me. He winks whenever he sees me. My friends giggle; they’re so childish. Really! We’re 15. The black girls are giving me dirty looks. Beverly bumped me hard when she walked by. Carter likes me! He’s so hot! 

Thursday, 10/29/1961

Dear Diary: We were sitting real close in class, sharing the microscope. Carter’s arm brushed against my breast and I liked it. I leaned in closer and placed my hand on his leg, slowly moving it higher. Then the bell rang! Carter whispered “Give me your phone number”. I scribbled it down and he winked at me. 

Friday, 10/30/1961

Dear Diary: Teacher’s Conference Day. No school but my parents had to work. The ringing phone woke me. I was stunned to hear Carter’s voice: “Pretty Lily White. I’m bored. Come to my place. We’ll listen to music.”  I said “Okay“, and got his address. I walked the three blocks to his house. The radio was playing Motown and we started dancing. He gave me a drink .. Scotch, I think .. and he laughed when I coughed. Taking my glass, he kissed me deeply. Just then three boys from school arrived. We were partying – drinking, smoking and dancing. I must have passed out. I came to in Carter’s bedroom, naked. Somebody was on top of me while the others watched. I could vaguely hear the Miracles singing “Ooh, Baby, Baby”. Next thing I know I’m dressed, being helped down the stairs. Carter told someone to “clean up the condoms“. He opened the front door and I staggered out, the cool air clearing my head a bit. I smelled like sex and booze. Somehow I made it home, showered and crawled into bed. How could this happen? 

Weekend, 10/31-11/1/1961

Dear Diary: Faked a headache and skipped the Halloween dance last night. Today I just hung around the house. I can’t face anyone. 

Monday, 11/2/1961

Dear Diary: This morning at school I saw Carter walking with his arm around Beverly. He winked at me as we passed. His friends laughed. I want to die.

NAR © 2018