Thursday, August 30, 2012

No One Puts Baby In...

Labor Day weekend is here. Can you believe it? The summer has flown by and I have this mean desire to watch Dirty Dancing. The movie takes me back years, to an innocent time, and I just want to sit and remember. My family vacation wasn't like Baby's family though. We live in the mountains similar to the ones Baby visited, so we... Well, it went more like this.

Four-thirty a.m. Once a year, my parents' alarm clock would buzz with special meaning. Any other morning, if my parents were up especially early, my sister and I would roll over and go back to sleep. After all it was summer and after a months of sleeping in, it is what we were use to doing.

But, this day was special, it was the first weekend of August, and we would shoot from our beds as if they were on fire. We would scramble to use the bathroom before our three brothers were shaken from their beds by dad. Afterwards, we’d rip into the outfits we meticulously chosen the night before, grab our packed suitcases and head to the car. The sky’s center was always as black as the well in the hollow. One star always dangled on the canvas, however, and sky’s lower edge burned with the rising sun.

Excitiement bubbled in our veins. Our summer vacation to Atlantic City was finally here.

Within the hour, my two uncles and aunts, and my twelve cousins filled the two cars who met us at the edge of the drive. We, the older cousins, had worked at odd jobs all summer and saved in anticipation of spending our earnings anyway we wanted. I always came home with a ceramic horse. Remember Roy Rodger's horse Trigger. He was mine.

My parents never made reservations and somehow we always found rooms. So while dad and my uncles went inside the hotel (anyone remember the Mayflower-it was our first choice) and acquire rooms for all twenty-three of us, we’d sit in the car. Our necks grew damp as the morning sun rose, glaring off the car's hood. French fries, candy cotton and fish wafted in the air. The buzz of the big city, the roar of the ocean beyond the boardwalk , the call of “Watch the Tramcar, please” made our legs twitch. After a three hour ride, we wanted out and get on with our vacation.

Three days is what we had to enjoy another world. A world where hundreds of Miss
Americas had strolled the boardwalk. Where a white stallion dove into a swimming pool.

Three days is all it took to etch into my memory the feel of the hot sand as we hopped toward the cool foam of the waves, and the laughter shared as we romped in the ocean and Uncle Lee lost his teeth, and the way my blood rushed searching for my little lost cousin George among the crowd of thousands. To this day, the Coppertone Baby signifies a carefree summer for me and the scent from the lotion speeds me back to the innocent time. Also, to this day, I haven’t found ice cream sandwiches as good as the ones we devoured on the AC beach. You know. The sandwiches laced with sea salt and sand.

I think I’ll go poolside this weekend, as much as I can, and crack the lotion bottle. Maybe have an ice cream sandwich.

I’d love to hear one of your summer vacation memories over the Labor Day weekend.

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