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Love and Air-conditioning


Wet T-Skirt Contest
By Shalom Auslander

Reveille, except for Sabbath, was at 6 a.m. sharp. We crawled out of our bunks and made our way down to the flagpole, where we raised the American flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we raised the Israeli flag and sang “Hatikva.” Then, as the birds began to sing and the warm sunlight crept across the baseball fields and basketball courts, we went inside and studied the word of God.

The boys’ campus at our Orthodox summer camp was half a mile through a dark forest from the girls’ campus, but if you crept to the edge of the woods, you could see the girls at the lakefront, laughing and shivering. They wore long white “T-skirts” over their one-piece bathing suits—double- , sometimes triple-XL men’s T-shirts that covered them from neck to knee. The slutty girls wore V-necks; but never was Fruit of the Loom more erotic than it was on Yael N.: brown hair, blue eyes, and a T-skirt that I was pretty sure, after spying her through the trees one morning, was only one XL.

“Your parents,” said Rabbi Cohen, grabbing me by the arm and pulling me from the woods, “would be very proud of you.”

I was watched more closely after that, my attendance at Talmud class and Torah class and Prophets class more monitored. Additional rabbis were sent to patrol the woods. But Yael was half a mile away, and all the rabbis in the world couldn’t keep me from her.

Once a week, a man arrived at camp in an old van filled with holy books. To maximize sales, he parked on the dirt road that connected the two campuses. “How much for the prayer book?” I asked.

“Fifteen,” I think he said, but I wasn’t really listening, because if you stood at the back of the van, near the Talmuds, you could see right down to the girl’s waterfront. And there was Yael, the wet hem of her T-skirt clinging seductively to her pale, virtuous thighs.

“Your parents,” said Rabbi Cohen, patting me on the back and eyeing my boxed set of the Five Books of Moses, “would be very proud of you.”

Shalom Auslander is the author of Foreskin’s Lament.

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