Summer Stories (Monthly Theme) by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

One of my favourite summer places, beach-wise, in the New York City area is Robert Moses State Park, Field 5, and the Fire Island Lighthouse. Well, I really love Hither Hills and the Montauk Lighthouse a whole lot too. But they're kind of far, and that's another story. This story is about this one time at Robert Moses. My mom had let me get an all-black bathing suit, even though our next door neighbor did not approve of black bathing-suited 16-year olds. Mine was even strapless! You really could not tell me anything.

Going to the beach without moms who made us eat hard boiled eggs and peanut butter sandwiches and change behind beach towels was newly awesome, and my friends and I always made the most of it. We had been waiting for these days to come, of super summer independence, and this summer before 11th grade, before the stress of college applications, promised to be an amazing one. Because that's how I pictured it.

I pictured everything, see. Look! There's me walking down the halls while my classmates stand aside in respectful awe. There I am again cartwheeling across the gym like the Gabby Douglas/Dominique Dawes/Diane Durham of New York. And, oh yes -- there I am again, winning every prize at the Individual Research Projects in Science Fair!

(Yes, even my fantasy life had a healthy dose of nerd.)

I pictured it, and I usually had my trusty notebook and a cutesy pen that wrote in 5 colours handy to write about it too.

Anyway, this one time at Robert Moses didn't go quite the way that I'd pictured it.

To make a long story short:

I got wiped out. My strapless bathing suit rolled down during said wipeout. The wipeout gave me something that one might call a cousin of a black eye as well as a sprained ankle. (Luckily, I had a cane handy as I sprained my ankle often. The cartwheel thing was *really* a fantasy.) As we had more plans for typical teen summer fun after the beach that one absolutely mortifying and excruciating little wipeout was not going to ruin, so I limped on to our next destination, the amusement park, where I pulled out my Fashion Fair pressed powder to cover my darkening bruise and patted my face. Often. Like, every five minutes. Even on the roller coaster. As we were going downhill. So the powder flew into my face and mouth. I think people might have applauded. My so-called best friend laughed right in my (bruised and powdered) face. This was actually not the Best Summer Day Ever. But you know what, Dear Readers? I laughed too.

And when we got back to school, I wrote about it.

You Guys!

I just found it.

It's so bad and overwritten and embarrassing and mortifyingly high school me. Just a sample:

I knew that my suit was absolutely stunning. (I hate it when they call it a swimsuit, you know, that's so misleading.) We spread out our towels, Juanita plunked down her cooler which was full of calories and cholesterol and I took out my frozen Evian.

It was time for the big unveiling. Now, the way to uncover a suit is an art in itself-especially when it covered another work of art like my body. I stood up and began to unbutton my oversized white shirt-one of the wardrobe essentials, like the little black dress. Juanita, of course, had an orange and green striped t-shirt that said something like "Visit Your Friendly Butcher" in red letters. She dragged it over her head while I, at the last button, hesitated, confident that every sunglassed eye was upon me, then whipped off the shirt. The suit was black, a one-piece of course, since everyone knew that mystery was the essence of glamour and vogue. I did a half-turn and glanced over my shoulder. Barbizon, beg me to lecture. Then I lay down to flip through Glamour and Vogue and to saturate myself with sun -- under Bain de Soleil SPF 15, of course.

I had just about hit that saturation point when Water Wheel Juanita said, "I'm bored. I think the water is as heated up as it's going to get, Allison. Next thing you know it'll be sundown." Exactly, I thought. Wet'n Wild Juanita tried to yank me up. "Come on! We're going in!" Rather than cause an ugly scene, I acquiesced. Anyway, I thought that I had read in last month's Allure that a tan set better if you were wet.

"Okay," I tried to sound enthusiastic. What did they say in those Beach Blanket Bingo movies? "Let's watusi into that water, Juanita!" She groaned. She really should have known better. That is death to the vocal cords. She'll end up sounding like a cross between Lauren Bacall and the Cookie Monster.

We strode to the water's edge. At least, I strode. Juanita gamboled like a circus animal. I dipped a Sandy Coral toe in. It was a liquid glacier. Juanita dove in, convincing me that she was some sort of mutant sea lion.


I don't even have words. (Except: Barbizon! Bain de Soleil!!!) But I'm glad I did then.

I'm glad that I was a kid who tried to have fun with words and stories; to play, to stumble and pratfall and write myself, bruises and all.

Now I'm the one bringing the hard boiled eggs and advising that my 10 year old wait an hour after she eats before swimming (yeah, I know, that's not even a thing, really).

And I still bring my notebook.


  1. Gbemi, I love this entry. I can totally relate since every teen girl must have her own "bathing suit malfunction" story. Thanks for sharing yours!

  2. whar a treasure! A moment in time preserved and tied with a pretty bow :) LOVE


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