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  • Each summer dad would take us away for a week on vacation and our destination always changed. One year it was San Diego, the following year Balboa Island for a week on the beach, Yosemite National Park, camping, and when I was really small my dad got a new camper for his pickup truck and we drove all the way from Santa Monica to San Diego on Highway One. We pulled over to sleep in the camper at Tin Can beach and were awakened at 2am by something biting. A hoard of ants attacked. In the dark we had chosen the perfect place to park, atop an ant hill.

    But by far, my most memorable place to vacation in the whole world was Lake Gregory, California. What made Lake Gregory my favorite place? There was this little motel that nestled into the mountainside. The motel had a swimming pool, was located next door to a miniature golf course, across the street was a penny arcade, skating rink and movie theatre. The lake was full of water back then (these were pre-draught days), sporting kayaks, paddle boards and sail boats and those little bicycle floaty thing a kabobs.. This particular year was the year Bye Bye Birdie was released in the movie theaters, 1963, starring Ann Margaret and Bobby Rydell.

    I remember desperately wanting to be as glamorous as Ann Margaret. I was twelve years old and I had those pink foam curler jobbers in my hair. My older sister, who was 10 years my senior, was on vacation with us and had brought along her two year old baby girl, who was very cute, and her four year old boy, who was faster than quick silver. I pin curled the last few stray hairs that were still unharnessed to my head and ran down the cabin stairs to hang out on the front porch with my baby niece while my sister took my nephew for a walk. Beach boys music was playing on a transistor radio across the way in another cabin. The air smelled of Coopertone suntan lotion and pine trees while I sat on the front steps to the cabin with my baby niece, reading a movie magazine. Out of nowhere my baby niece picks up a giant green June bug and sticks it in her mouth. I was so freaked by this that I start screaming for my sister who comes running up the mountainside with her son in tow only to arrive to see the June bug’s rear leg sticking out of her adorable blonde curly haired baby girls mouth. Was she too late? Did she eat it? Was it still in her mouth? She wouldn’t open her mouth. There’s nothing under the step. EEUW, she ate the leg. The bug was gone. I was so incredibly grossed out, I didn’t want anything to do with babysitting after that, or babies, for that matter. I hated creepy crawlers and that black leg sticking out of those little cherub lips was etched deep into my psyche. So deeply etched, I suffered from it the rest of the trip. I was constantly on vigil alert for marauding June bugs. I had never seen one prior to that day, but they immediately ranked way up there on my list of least favorite things, right beside Jerusalem crickets.

    Traumatized for life, I vowed never to have a child, ever.

    image: me at twelve, sporting my curly hair, that never really curled. photo taken in one of those old mechanized photo booths at Lake Gregory. Most of the time the sign on the photo booth read "out of order".The photo was found in a match jar a few days ago and had been sitting there for some twenty years. I came across it and I find it somewhat miraculous that the old photo still survives with all the moving around I've done.
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