From the Embarrassing Details Archives …

From 8 to 13, I went to a posh camp in the Berkshires. When I was little, I was happy just to get away from Westchester and run around outside. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized my camp was just Westchester East. By the time I was 13, it was quite clear that I was different from my fellow campers. No one else liked to play sports or go on adventures; no one got my sense of humor.

This came to a head the first week of my last summer when a new counselor for our bunk arrived. Before she came, I had it in my head that I should be in the shower. When she said, “Where’s Rebecca?” someone would say, “in the shower.” That would be her first impression of me, and for the rest of the summer I would be Rebecca “in shower” Aronauer. There’s a nice rhythm to that, kind of like my nickname in 2nd grade, Rebecca on the hour, every hour, Aronauer. (And to this day, I’m pretty punctual.) Unfortunately, the new counselor arrived before I could get into the shower, and my plan was thwarted.

Whenever I get an idea, I became a little monomaniacal. This was true when I was young, before I read Moby-Dick or knew what monomania meant. So even though I wasn’t in the shower when my counselor arrived, the first thing I told her was about my plan to be in the shower and the nickname that would ensue. Ironically, my introduction did garner me the “in the shower” nickname I so desired all summer. In fact, a few weeks ago my age group had a reunion in—surprise, a gross Murray Hill Irish bar—it was one of the first things an ex-bunkmate said to me. Of course, she didn’t remember the original joke, just my disappointment in failing to execute it. And looking back, I can see the joke was far too conceptual for 13 year-olds. Frankly, it’s a bit weird—I mean, who creates nicknames for themselves centered on cleanliness? And yet, if I were a character on Freaks and Geeks or something, wouldn’t that story be adorable? It’s too bad life isn’t a short-lived TV series.