A summer of magic

Published 4:07 am Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I dressed carefully for the rooftop dance, feigning indifference. My first trip to camp had been relatively uneventful. My coming of age dreams so far had been just that — dreams.

My hair was still too straight; My knees were still knobby. And worst of all, when any person of the opposite sex looked my way I ducked my head in a futile attempt to hide my blazing cheeks.

“What is wrong with me?” I thought for perhaps the hundredth time. “If I do happen to meet a cute guy the heat from my cheeks alone will keep him at bay.”

Even Prince Charming needed a little encouragement from Cinderella. But in my youthful exuberance, I held fast to the dream. The most handsome fellow at the dance would take one look into my 13-year-old baby blues and be drawn in. It would be a magical evening that both of us would look back on as a special moment in time.

One of the older campers in my cabin took an interest in the younger girls and shared the contents of her cosmetic bag. She even helped me apply a little lipstick and rouge.

When I peeked uneasily into the mirror I saw a more mature face peering back at me. Yes, even though those pesky freckles were still painfully evident this girl appeared polished, almost sophisticated.

My cabin mates and I strolled toward the rooftop over the cafeteria laughing hysterically at a silly juvenile boy’s antics. He was dancing around like a monkey.

The oldest girl in our group, Charlotte, whispered somewhat loudly, “Such a child.”

We all heartily agreed with our beautiful benefactress. None of us had the guts to disagree, but secretly I thought this silly boy was sort of cute. He was a mere child, obviously. But somehow I thought perhaps he was a kindred spirit in his awkward attempt to be noticed.

We walked up the steps to see the camp counselors had done a fantastic job of decorating. Tables filled with punch and goodies beckoned. Most of the guys hung together on one side of the rooftop, and the girls clustered about on the other. Slowly the fellows began making a their way over to the girl’s side.

Before long the dance floor was rocking. The night sky had taken on a purplish hue, and stars danced as if in time to the music.

I wondered if the others noticed the only time I had moved from my place was to get a snack or take a bathroom break. The older girls hardly took a breath between partners. Despite my lipstick and rouge I began to feel like the ugly duckling among beautiful swanlike creatures. Toward the end of the evening I had given up on anything magical or otherwise happening. Who was I kidding? I simple willed the evening to end. My face hurt from holding the fake smile, and I was practically waterlogged from punch.

Thankfully, the disk jockey gave a shout out for the last dance. Relief rushed over me. I felt my body relax with the thought that this terrible evening was about to end.

A cool wind began to blow and I felt a slight tap on my shoulder. I glanced up to see that dreadfully handsome specimen whose wonderful sense of humor had captivated me earlier. He looked deeply into my eyes and whispered, “Wanna dance?”

I could feel my heart beating faster as he awkwardly placed both hands on my slender waist. My hands rested gently on his shoulders, and we swayed to the music. Neither of us spoke. I tried valiantly not to step on his toes and failed. But being the perfect Southern gentleman he never even winced.

My feet seemed to glide on air as I made my way back to my cabin. The others laughed and giggled as we strolled to our home away from home. I only smiled and kept my thoughts safely in my heart. This evening had been magic.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at lilsisjan@yahoo.com.