My Alpine Village Summer Of 1976 (Part I)

It was the summer of 1976.  It was the year of the Bicentennial, the year after I graduated from high school, when the tall ships came to New York harbor and the Fourth of July was celebrated with a special, round-number, multiple-century vigor.  I spent that summer working at the Alpine Village resort in Lake George, New York.  It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

The entrance to Alpine Village

I wanted to get away from Columbus.  I was looking for work at a resort-style place, where the position would include room and board so I wouldn’t have to pay for an apartment.  Alpine Village was perfect.  It was a small resort located right on Lake George that employed about 15 staffers who performed every imaginable job.  Most of us — men and women, teenagers and twenty-somethings, clerks and blue-collar types — shared small rooms on the second floor of a barn-like structure on the grounds.  We were supervised by Peter and Marilyn, the chain-smoking, highball-drinking, often feuding married couple that ran the place.

The dishwasher room at Alpine Village

I started the summer as the dishwasher, working in a small room with a huge steel dishwashing machine and a nozzle that fired superheated water.  You rinsed the dirty plates with the nozzle, filled plastic racks with the rinsed dishes, slid the racks into the machine, closed the metal sheathing, and started the washing cycle.  While the machine hummed away, you worked on the next stack of dirty dishes and glasses.  When the machine was done you removed the cleaned rack amidst billowing clouds of scalding steam, slid in the next rack, started the process over again, and stacked the cleaned dishes, still hot to the touch, on the shelves.

I loved working in that little room, managing things myself.  During slack time, I cleaned and polished the steel counter where the dirty dishes were stacked and — best of all — practiced my skill at squirting streams of superheated water at doomed ants who couldn’t resist the scent of the leftover food.  I worked with lightning speed in that steamy room, keeping the metal surfaces bright and gleaming, trying to keep ahead of the waitresses who dropped off the dirty plates and cutlery.

Sure, I was working in a small room in a little-known resort in a small resort town — but what did I care?  I was 19 years old, and on my own.

The Sure-Fire Seasonal Clothing Weight-Gain Test (With Apologies To Dylan Thomas)

If you’re like me, you don’t use a scale regularly.  What’s the point?  But now we are coming upon a change in seasons.  Soon we will have to put away the ratty shorts that have been our summer clothing staple and find out whether we can still squeeze into our jeans.  And there is no more anguished sign that you’ve packed on more weight than you thought than realizing, with disappointment and disgust, that those jeans that fit so well in April are now breathtakingly tight.

Of course, the true test is not whether you’ve added a pound or two eating one too many M&M Blizzards at DQ.  No, the test is whether you accept that you’ve become more sedentary, that your metabolism has slowed to a crawl, and that your weight gain is inevitable.  The true sign of surrender is when you head off to the nearest Kohl’s to buy new jeans in the next size or two up — all the while holding onto your old jeans in the forlorn hope that someday, somehow, you will wear once more your “skinny” clothes.

Brothers and sisters, resist that temptation!  If those jeans feel snug, now is the time to take that extra walk, eat the low-fat lunch, and forgo the late-night snack.  To shamelessly borrow from Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night:

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Next Size

Do not go gentle into that next size,
Yield not to shock of flab and gut;
Rage, rage against expansion of the thighs.

Though trying on jeans may cause surprise,
As summer splurges show on your butt
Do not go gentle into that next size.

Breathe deep, make your flaccid body rise
The choice for you must be clear-cut
Rage, rage against expansion of the thighs.

Trust in your clothes, and not your eyes,
When tempted, you must say “but”
Do not go gentle into that next size.

Resist, I pray, the clothing stores’ cries
Older you may be, yet still you may strut
Rage, rage against expansion of the thighs.

No milkshakes for you, and neither french fries,
These from your menu you must cut
Do not go gentle into that next size.
Rage, rage against expansion of the thighs.