July 17, 2024
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July 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Now that summer is once again upon us, a lot of people are wondering, “Should I go to a bungalow?” And the answer is: It’s too late. If you try to get a bungalow now, all you’re going to end up with is some dinky little house way out in the boondocks with no air conditioning or functioning door locks and an insufficient number of bedrooms.

Oh, wait.

We were never really bungalow people. I grew up in Monsey, which is not that different from a bungalow colony, except that we had roads. But the way I understood it, bungalow colonies are vacation resorts in the mountains—it doesn’t matter which mountains, it’s all just “the mountains”—for people who want to vacation in the same exact place every summer, in a bunch of cottages settled around a basketball court, miles away from things like food and society and cleaning supplies and any kind of night visibility. And door locks. It’s just you and some neighbors and thin walls and the smell of fresh mountain air and whatever deceased wildlife managed to stagger into the colony before it became deceased.

And anyway, my parents never really had bungalow-colony-in-the-summer money. But they do have bungalow-colony-for-one-weekend-in-the-winter money, at least now that most of us are out of the house, so that’s what we’ve done a couple of times in recent years. The pool’s a little colder. But the big benefit is that if your goal in coming to the mountains is to escape the crowds, there are definitely no crowds in the winter. And you know that cool mountain air that people enjoy up there? In the winter it’s even cooler! By, like, a lot! It’s snow-capped mountain air! Largely unplowed.

It’s even cheaper if you go to one that isn’t winterized.

Winterizing is the first step. It’s a bungalow, they winterize it, people start staying there in the winter, and then it slowly becomes an actual town. Basically, bungalow colonies are a way of feeling out a neighborhood before we start building proper houses. Maybe that’s why they’re called colonies.

That said, I don’t know where the word “bungalow” comes from. It’s one of those words that if you say it enough times it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore. Bungalow bungalow bungalow. I don’t even know how it’s a word in the first place. It sounds like a skin abnormality, as in, “I’ve got this massive bungalow right behind my knee. I think it’s inflamed.”

But in case you’re considering going and are unsure of the benefits, here are some reasons you might want to go, based on my limited experiences in this one colony for one weekend at a time over maybe two non-consecutive winters.

Firstly, people assume that bungalows are expensive, but they are definitely not made in an expensive way. And those savings are passed on to you, the consumer. Even in a winterized bungalow, I’m pretty sure that only the outside walls have insulation. The interior walls are the furthest thing from soundproof.

You can even hear people snoring. One year, my parents and I shared a wall in a semi-attached bungalow, and my wife and I heard snoring in the middle of the night, so we figured it was one of my parents. I wasn’t going to mention it, but then the next day, the topic of soundproofing came up, and my mother said, “I know; last night we heard you snoring.” And I said, “I thought I heard you snoring.” Apparently, at some point we were both awake, listening to snoring. So the real question here is: Who was snoring? Or what was snoring? Was something really big hibernating beneath our bungalow?

The builders don’t waste money making doors that lock either. Bathroom doors, front doors… There’s just a thing on the door that you turn to make yourself feel better, but people can still just push the door open. And anyway, everyone basically lives outside. There are tables out there, laundry lines… The cabins are just where you keep your stuff in case it rains.

One thing that people really like is that when you’re out there, you’re cut off from the stresses of the world. Your entire world is your bungalow colony. It has its own driving laws, its own rules of what constitutes personal property… Basically, it’s a place for grass-deprived people of the city to experience the wonders of trees and mud and kids asking them if they can keep all of the wildlife they found.

It’s for people to get out of the city, where everyone lives on top of everyone else and everyone is in each other’s business, and go to a place where they’re more spread out, in circle formation, and the walls are paper thin and everyone is in everyone’s business. It’s just you and your family and about half your belongings, in an apartment that is at most three bedrooms. It’s for people who are sick of cramped spaces to get out into other cramped spaces, but ones that are at least connected to the great outdoors by one fling of the door.

“Oh, I thought that was locked.”

It’s like living on a kibbutz, except that no one is working the land. Except the kids.

It’s a more relaxed lifestyle; everything is slower paced… Even the pizza shops are slower paced. And the sky is black at night. I don’t know; if you live in the New York Metropolitan area, the sky doesn’t get black. It gets gray. But a darker gray than during the day. If there is a blackout in my neighborhood in the middle of the night, I can still read in my backyard.

Point is, there is something about just lying there at night in total blackness and listening to nothing but the sound of crickets and your neighbor snoring next door. And also their conversations:

“I don’t snore.”

“Yes, you do. How could someone say for sure that they don’t snore?”

And then you can weigh in, through the wall:

“Well, one of you was snoring.”

“Is that Mordechai? How’s your bungalow?”

“Still inflamed.”

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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