Summer vacations seemed to be accidental occurrences completely dependent on my mother’s mood; frenzied packing would soon lead to a short car trip to somewhere as exotic as the Wisconsin Dells or the Indiana Dunes. The worst ones were those when my mother had travel on her mind, but was in the throes of one of her endless imaginary illnesses, one that required her to accessorize with a wheelchair, or worse, a walker. There were a few where she actually stood on her own two feet; those vacations were fun only because I wasn’t constantly embarrassed.
Being an only child on trips with my parents led to many awkward situations. The resorts always had children’s activities, and my parents would shoo me off to “meet other kids.” I was certain there’d be absolutely no one I’d want to meet, and even more certain that I’d rather be lounging by the pool while reading a novel I had recently shoplifted, maybe Puzo’s The Godfather, or Jacqueline Susann’s The Love Machine. If I could’ve pulled it off, I’d be smoking a cigarette while at the pool proving to all those who passed by just how sophisticated I really was.
Meeting other kids seemed pointless and terrifying to me. The games were usually lame involving some stupid sport, and I’d stand on the sidelines rolling my eyes and plotting my escape. If my “camp counselor” would just look away for a minute, I’d make a play toward the wooded area, circle back around, grab my paperback, and soon I could lather myself in Coppertone on a chaise. I pulled off this gambit more often than not.
On one particular trip to a particularly cheesy resort at the Dells that had Yogi and Boo Boo as their Welcome sign, I found a different kind of adventure, one that provided endless fascination for me. There was a men’s room right off the lobby, and one of the toilet stalls had a peephole that looked directly onto a line of urinals. For the two days we were there, I spent most of my time with my eye glued to that little hole peering at a parade of men who would come in, take out their penises, and piss. I didn’t fully understand why, but it hooked me.
It was then that I finally found a sport I could get behind.