Summer Camp Socials
Written By: Jacob M. Appel
We journeyed by decommissioned school bus
to all-girls camps wedged into lakefront
Berkshire notches, most now defunct,
where Scarsdale bankers sent their daughters
to weave lanyards. Wire poked through
gashes in the vinyl seats. A toxic residue
of antiperspirant choked the twilight.
In the makeshift ballrooms—
gymnasiums, mood-lit refectories,
a converted hay-barn painted mauve—
slender thighs flashed through clouds
of Malibu musk. Boys breathed Binaca
like fire, savored the first fruity tang of
Maybelline kissing potion.
I hugged the corners like a dunce.
At one camp, there was a bald girl—
pale, lanky, not unpretty, but without
so much as an eyebrow—her pregnant
white scalp latticed with veins. On the bus,
guys called her Kojak, snotted about parts
she didn’t need to shave. Nobody ever
asked her to dance, yet her laughter
carried across the sultry ether.
This girl stars in the revision of my life.
I stride across the dancefloor on fumes of
bravado, let her faint waist melt into my
trembling fingertips. She ripples with joy,
but not surprise, because she knows
I am coming, because she’s been waiting.
In my unrevised life, she is still waiting.
About the Author
JACOB M. APPEL is a physician, attorney and bioethicist based in New York City. He is the author of six collections of short fiction, two novels and a collection of essays. His short stories have been published in more than two hundred journals and have been short-listed for the O. Henry Award, Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize anthology. His commentary on law, medicine and ethics has appeared in the New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press and many other major newspapers. He taught for many years at Brown University and currently teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.