April 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Not a Shorts and Tank Top Kind of Girl

It’s hot. Really hot. You feel the sweat dripping down your face as the sun beats down mercilessly on you and the animal beneath you. You wipe the sweat from your eyes. This is how you are going to spend every day of the next week of your life. Outside all day, sitting on a sweaty horse, hanging out with a bunch of sweaty kids, also on sweaty horses, walking in circles on a mixture of sand and horse droppings. Summer has truly arrived.

The head counselor of the local horse stables day camp cups his hands around his mouth and calls, “Everyone, go take a water break! It’s very hot today, so make sure to drink plenty of water!”

You jump off your horse and walk over to your backpack to get your water bottle. You lean back against the side of a wooden table and take a long sip. You feel the once-frozen Gatorade flow down your throat like an electrolyte-filled waterfall.

Your friend taps you on the shoulder, interrupting your thoughts. Your friend is the only other Jewish girl in the whole camp, so you two stick together.

“Will you be my bathroom buddy?” she asks with an eye roll. You smile. You both make fun of the fact that the camp makes the campers do a buddy system for the bathroom.

“Sure,” you reply.

You walk to the one porta-potty that sits near the round pen where the owners train all the horses. Your friend steps inside the smelly gray box of grossness and locks the door. A second later a snobby girl and her other snobby friend strut up to the porta-potty.

“Is someone, like, in there?” she asks. You tell her yes and she looks over at her friend and then back at you.

“Aren’t you hot?” she asks. You look down at your clothes. You are wearing a green long sleeve top, black skirt, black leggings and riding boots. You look back up at the two girls, in their shorts and tank tops. You feel very uncomfortable all of a sudden.

“I’m Jewish and in my religion, girls cover their elbows, knees and collarbone, but yeah, I feel pretty hot,” you explain.

The two girls look at each other and then back at you. They say nothing.

Finally, your friend comes out of the porta-potty, and you both walk back to the picnic tables.

For the rest of the day, you continue to think about the interaction you had with these girls. Why did I embarrass myself like that? They must think I’m such a weirdo. Then you remember that you aren’t a weirdo. You are part of a group of people that have different customs and traditions that might seem weird to others, but it doesn’t make you weird.

If these girls can’t accept the fact that you’re a little different, it doesn’t matter.

All you know is that, by the end of this long, bug-filled week, you’ll be the one with the fewest bug bites.


Gavriella Dietz is in eighth grade at Bruriah Middle School and has lived in Highland Park her entire life. She loves to write, dance, bake, do gymnastics, and spend time with her friends and family.

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