M y little boy is going to sleepaway camp.

My husband is gleeful; I am laying out sackcloth and stocking up on ashes. The boy’s father thinks it will be a great experience, build his self-esteem, increase his confidence, help him forge new friendships.

But he’s my youngest and I envision all kinds of horrors awaiting him in the Catskills: snakes, nits, toe fungus, an entire month of pizza-and-French-fry-type nutrition… I order a book entitled Survival in the Wilds of the Borsht Belt, which I hide under the industrial-sized sunscreen and insect repellent I smuggled into his luggage.

I drive him to the bus. It’s raining, but I’m wearing sunglasses for obvious reasons. He strides up the steps of the bus without a backward glance.

Hubby comes home in buoyant spirits. (Although I do catch him looking kind of wistful when he thinks I’m not looking.)

“We have four weeks of vacation!” he announces joyfully. I am wondering which one of us can leave our jobs long enough to travel to and from any kind of attractive destination. And who’s paying for it.

“Look, we don’t have to go on any kind of formal [read: expensive] vacation,” he explains with his usual maddening male logic. “We should just go away each weekend. That would mean four relaxing, restful mini-trips!”

Ever the optimist, I ask, “But who will want us???”

“The kids?” he suggests.

“That would be fun, but not exactly restful… unless you enjoy a red-headed spitfire barreling into you every hour, or you love reading Way Too Much Challah Dough way too many times to little Simchee…”

“How about your brother, Eli? Don’t he and Rechy have a place in the country?”

Y’know, he’s pretty smart… for a man.

I take a moment to envision myself relaxing on Shabbos afternoon in a sunny, grassy bungalow colony. I am lounging on a collapsible chair, the sun warming my face while a gentle breeze cools the air. It’s just me, Family First, and a tall glass of Diet Coke on ice. It’s totally quiet, save for the cheerful tweeting of the birds and the occasional flutter of a butterfly’s wings.

It takes me all of 12 seconds to agree. Now all I have to do is reach Rechy.

I flip open my phonebook and find a number labeled “Eli and Rechy — Bungalow” followed by a bunch of question marks. I know her cell phone number by heart, but I’m sure they don’t have a signal way up there, so I’ll try this number.

The phone rings 43 times. (I am nothing if not tenacious.)

“Hah-low?” The voice clearly belongs to someone from Eastern Europe who has been collecting social security for quite some time.

“Um… Hi! Is Rechy there?”


“No, Rechy. Rechy Stein.”

“WHO is this?”

“Who is this?” I counter, smartly.

“I asked you foist!” Wow. She’s tough.

“My name is Perel Grossman and I’m looking for my sister-in-law Rechy Stein. Isn’t this her number?”

“Pehrel? Pereleh? I used to hev ah frend named Pereleh. Vee called her Peruchka…”

“Hel-LO? Do I have the wrong number? Is this the Steins’ bungalow?”

“Shoor is, mameleh. But dis phone is for de gantze colony. You know… I tink I saw Brooochy going down for ah svim!” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 554)