by Sharon Cobrin-Waller
Car coasts to the curb “Welcome to The Evans Hotel.” Long cool blue canopy shades awaiting summer smiles. Silent uncomfortable unsettling adolescent eyes only answers. Watch luggage piled high by cute bellhop’s muscles. Dad’s smiling tip face bounds around. “Silly child” goddess-sister, quick check in the compact, click, “you’re not supposed to stare at them.” my flat chest is happy to stay in the backseat and hide. “Why can’t I go with you to the clubhouse?” visions of chipped green ping pong tables with red ice chest houses cool dark cokes. Bragging: “I have my own dime.” “I don’t want you to, that’s why.” whine: “Mommy make her.” “You know your sister wants to meet other girls her age.” “Why doesn’t she ever want to be with me?” feeling younger my cheeks feel hotter and my frustration at not knowing why makes me more miserable. Mom’s foot in hot time to Daddy’s smiling rosey vacation face: “Hon, she don’t want to come out of the car.” “Why do we have to come here?” “It’s a different hotel than the one we went to last summer, sharon please, maybe you’ll find some nice girls to play with.” arms-crossed, she turns her heads and blows smoke. she never smokes outside, i must be getting to her. good. god i hate her.
Everyone dresses-up for dinner. do i have to wear this it’s got FLOWERS on it, forgodssakes, who wears this anymore? “It was your sister’s” good, then give it back to her. i can wrap anyone around my little finger, especially daddy, and curls. front teeth opens bobbypins. now my brown bangs are too curly. “Use the comb with warm water”. Drip. lavender flats, clutches matching sweaty hands marshmellow purse. “Oh, you look so cute” bridget bardot’s eyes say, in full-cup bra batallion. bete noire.
“Dinner is now being served in the Main Dining room, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.” no, it’s dinner, no I said, it’s lunch, look at the time.” perry como’s crooning words over the pa system heads the herds from roaming too far from the pool. come on, please, just once, let’s play telephone: “Telephone call for Mrs.Goldberg, Mrs. Edna Goldberg, telephone, please.” “Who do you think is calling her? Maybe it’s her shiksa daughter-in-law, Oy, what a marriage!” “Do you want to walk to town (patting her stomach) maybe to walk it off a little?” two lines spoken, nothing more. summer speak clips from jewish movie stars. “She stays here the whole summer without him, nu?” “So darling, how come you¹re knitting, and you¹re not smoking anymore?” “Three o’clock, Mail Call, three o’clock. “It¹s three o’clock Hon, what do you say, let’s start getting ready for dinner.”
“But I’m still full. I’m getting tired of just sitting around all day, eating,” dad would say. we’d all look at him like he was nuts. he’d dive into the pool and swim the whole length twice underwater, never stopping to come up for air. i was amazed that he could hold his breath that long. he’d always let me stay in the pool hours after everyone had gone, after i begged him just a little bit longer. we would always swim together. he’d swim with me in the roughest waters in Rockaway¹s beaches all day, where we used to go on vacation. i adored him, and i got away with murder because of it. he said i reminded him of his sister, my aunt bess, the feisty one, before she became an alcoholic who killed herself with pills and booze in her Long Island mansion. he couldn¹t save her from drowning.
Court with Mrs. Goldberg: “She used to be a professional dancer, and she managed to get a job here. I’m not saying who, but you know who he is. The good-looking one who runs the concession stand in the lobby he’s tall come on florence, get that muffin out of your mouth how many do you think there are? No, you said it the jewelry guy the one who sells all the rhinestone necklaces and the crystal ones with the matching earrings that’s him well he shtups her, she his chippy.” “Nuvaden, of course his wife knows! What does she care, she’s got the business! Did you see those diamonds on her hand?” simon says do this, simon says do that, do this. you¹re out.
Numb freezing nose fingertips “Now, aren’t you glad you wore that sweater?” in a huge icebox with crystal chandeliers. it’s where the action is: the Main Dining room. yes good evening mister and misses cobrin (ummm, the air smells like half-sours), party of four, please follow me (can that be six desserts?), tinkling glass, chattering plates. Table Ten. “Yes sir, Thank you Mr. C” (A folded ten-spot slips into the lower left-hand pocket, swoosh) “It’s my best table. Ya’ got my best servers in the whole hotel. At The Evans, we get only the smartest college boys, bring ya’ anything ya’ want, right away, whatever ya’ need. If not now don’t forget, you let me know, right away, okay? That’s what I pay em for.” he pretends to jab the chin of one of them whose built like a heavy-weight boxer. he takes it square on the jaw. dumb grin. “Oh honey look, there’s the Miller’s and the Mase’s (oh please don’t stop). “I wonder what they’re doing here? They’re usually at The Browns Hotel.” sunny waves, smiled sprayed hair, beef flanken frozen in mid-air, adoring bread baskets. gold gowns, silver gowns, red gowns, green. matching purses in-between. “I wore it at Lenny’s bar-mitzvah. Look, it still fits!”
cary grant holds out grace kelly’s chair. “What a cute punim, you’d better watch this one, I have a son.” not caring, staring at our busboy’s hurried path. thick swarms of college boys. the pay’s lousy, mostly tips. sleep summer shacks in back. one notices, he keeps looking. i finally stop thinking about me. “It’s such a pleasure, I don’t have to cook, I don¹t have to touch a plate,” blue mom’s taffeta drindle skirt¹s cheery refrain from just one cajoled cherry herring cocktail, Oh waiter.” “Here hon, take some fruit back to the room, it’ll just go to waste, you might get hungry later”. i can’t go yet, i gotta find my pink lipstick. left it on the table by mistake. “Now remember sweetie don¹t go too far.” and just how far is that mom? “Hey, ya’ wanna walk me back to my bungalow when I¹m done settin’ up here?” uhhh sure okay. bingo.
bobby the busboy from brooklyn college. dirty blonde hair falls over one eye while he runs around the tables, carrying his shot-put tray. his white starched shirt like the actor troy donohue, only smaller. “You’re adorable, did anyone ever tell you that before?” sure all the time. i’m from brooklyn too and now i’m sittin’ on his bed. lots of smiling like from the Gidget movie. gulped two fast beers never offered, feeling hot breath horny. hey comehere. mmm good warm kiss. crumbled clothes massage: “Ahh that’s it, right back there.” like wow i have a boyfriend. the song Bobby’s Girl, goes round my head. smells suddenly like closed in suffocation, slow stench. “I told you it was a dump.” eyes look around, grown-up wanderings, where am i? pushing no, i gotta go.
fresh grass breath of air, dense dark clouds floating low in pink skies country. slowed down, heaving breaths of slight passionate vapor. hotel’s loudspeaker’s on. now? cutting off, what did they say right before RON or RAN. so I ran. ohmygod It’s My Name. Please Come To The Main Dining Room, repeat. mom’s BLAZING red lipstick wide open. what¹s wrong? uh oh, where’s dad? “He’s here” lips tight, face scared white under suntan. his large fingers rake through his george gobel crewcut: where the HELL have you been, we thought someone kidnapped you (i wish. i’d have picked the Concord Hotel) Or killed you (here, in the catskills?). “Didn’t you hear the loudspeaker we¹ve been paging you for HOURS, we called all the hotels, where were you?”
i was just in a busboy’s room and i’m fine, i’m okay. no, nothing happened dad. like what? it might have been steven. no, i really don’t know him. we were just talking and playing cards. of course there were other counselors there yes, there were girls there. that¹s all daddy, i swear i didn’t hear anything. i slapped a mosquito on my arm, real or imagined. nix the spanking.
“They were worried,” my sister’s velvet voice came round her cardigan, piped in kelly green. it shrugged on shoulders linked gently around her throat. tight polka-dot dress, bouffant blonde hair, white heels sinking in the earth, crinoline betraying. follow whispering long shadows looking back. no, i don’t want to go to the nightclub tonight. i walk to the hotel’s huge white dairy refrigerator for milk and cherry cookies. i bite those off first. alone with sullen crickets, i fall asleep in my room.
they won champagne that night they danced the peabody. that bottle stood on the dresser like a warm trophy all day. then busy like bees, valises yawned open, light green wobbly dresser drawers emptied closed. humming vacuums in the hall. white envelope tips fluttered around like snowflakes. (will i see him before we leave?) “Yes, we¹ll see, maybe we’ll come back next year. hurry-up girls, it’s ten o’clock, we have to check-out.”
our light blue ’58 chevy crushes white stones, gently cruising warm rolling sweet-smelling honeysuckle hills. “Take a deep breath in, that¹s good old-fashioned country air. Nothin’ else in the world like it.” pungent small umbrellas of pretty pinks and yella’s. “See Ya’ Fella’s!” clouds fade like dreams into sweet yesterdays.
Couples mingle outside the synagogue in the new Vacation Village Estates. Where? pointing over there. That was where the nightclub was when was The Evans. yellow and white flowers blooms sunny hat, suit and heels. a grown-up child rushes inside, wishing to hear music¹s echoes from The Peabody. Now holds herself to feel soft tears’ silent refrains of Kaddish.
Sharon Cobrin-Wallers short story entitled “The Evans” was a deja vu that brought her memories of her parents dancing the Peabody and winning champagne at that hotel on the now empty stage which has become Vacation Village¹s synagogue. Her adolescent reluctance to watch her parents dance that evening in 1960, which was one of many summers in the Borscht Belt, was recently rectified when she was invited to the townhouse community last summer: “It was a mystifying experience for me to have been on the exact same spot where my parents danced over 40 years ago.” Her presence on the now defunct Evans Hotel dance stage became the bimah that allowed her to say Kaddish for her father during Sabbath services. She is an avid writer, with frequent literary contributions to Lifestyles Magazine, where she interviews newsmakers to the New York Jewish artistic, literary and philanthropic scene. Another article has appeared in the local Parent Paper of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, where she lives with her husband Alan and their daughter, Jackie. She is a returning student to William Paterson University, where she is an undergraduate in English Literature and Secondary Education. The Evans short story won Sharon her second writing award from that college, which set a precedent in the department, and she has recently completed her first play on the life of George Sand. Her favorite movies are “Dirty Dancing”: “I watch it every spring, right before the summer season opens in the mountains” and also “A Walk on the Moon.” She hopes one day to produce a documentary on the Catskills, where she hopes some day to buy a second home.