The dining hall was on the ridge above the mall with a gorgeous view of the placid, White Lake. That was the summer I would play GiGi. I would protest color war. I would have a huge crush on an unattainable boy. That was before I had morphed into a full-fledged shy teenager.
During the summer of 1968 I was a prisoner in summer camp. In September, life as I knew it was about to unstitch. I was preparing for my supportive role as one of the most miserable pre-teens you ever met.
Early into the season, another inedible dinner was over, and the sun was still strong. Outside the Rabbi's talked, the girls flirted with boy's who tried to get lucky. There was a boy I had noticed since I had arrived and had no idea how to talk to him. He was somewhat older and toiled in the kitchen. His long, dark hair fell into his eyes as he played his acoutistic. He was a Cuban Jew who spoke Spanish, went to a military academy and he had beagle eyes. In other words, exotic.
When I was little, at a bar-mitzvah in Pittsfield an accordionist had played Alice Blue Gown. But he had a much better idea, "Alice? Alice? Really, Alice? I've got a song for you, Alice."
Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog.
The Rabbis caught wind of our innocence, that there was something to mistrust about his singing to me. I was told to stop speaking with him, a perceived no-goodnik, and ignored them all, because it was just talk and song, and anyway, he had a real girlfriend at home. I was already dedicated to Phil Ochs, Dylan but this pushed me deeper into a new world of Arlo and Joni and Butterfield, and soon to Blind Faith, which somehow brought me to the Holy Modals which somehow carried me to the Incredible String Band and the salvation that carried me through. And those Rabbi's would have stopped it all, silly men.
Soon after, I was thrown into full throttle hormonal change and family tsunamis. There was one phone call when it all started to crumble. And then a chance meeting on the pier a decade later.
When I'm 90 looking back on that moment, or just now, when the airwaves can't get enough of Arlo, I'll always feel the way the sun on my face played off the deep longing.
I am instructed not to bring wine with me for dinner tonight. This is going to test my ability to obey orders.