When I was young, there was pretty much no place I loved quite as much as Lake George, New York.
I grew up pretty poor. To be fair, my parents were living the American Dream while it still existed, and there was always that hope, that one day, I would not be steeped in poverty, by extension. My dad was in law school; my mother had insane computer skills; it was all good.
So there was that. And there was also my mom’s parents’ amazing summer home. They’d give it to any and every one of their six kids, to use as a vacation place. I don’t know where my grandparents used to go in the summer while they still lived in New York, but they went…there. And left behind an immaculately clean cabin-y place, full of squash, whimsical refrigerator quotes, and Freihofer’s cookies that rock Entenmann’s out of the park.
While I loved the weeks that my family got the Lake George place, my favorite times there were the ones that had my grandparents staying there, as well. Hence, aforementioned squash.
In September 1987, the summer season had ended, and it was unusual for my family to be there. Not sure if this was during the time when my grandparents would migrate like birds to Florida, but it was definitely off season. People in the town had cleared out; that one ice-cream place was never open, and my Pop-Pop had put away his boat & gear for the winter.
Yet my mother, Robb, and I were there, because my dad was on a business trip literally across the lake.
It was only a few months ago that my mother lost the plane tickets to get back home from our Washington/Oregon vacation, and we accidentally ended up in San Francisco, which was awesome. A lone experience, that introduced me to an amazing city.
I wore the San Francisco sweatshirt I got there, when I was in Lake George during that random time. It was weird to be wearing a sweatshirt at a place that I associated with Miracle Whip and bathing suuts.
So things were autumn-y, and things were cozy, even with my grandparents at the helm of a place that I associated with other authority, including my own. Honestly, “this day by the lake went too fast,” and I wanted to stay there forever, with my Nanny and my Pop-Pop, and the Miracle Whip, and the squash.
There was one night, during aforementioned time, when we were all just chilling. It was cold outside, and time to watch TV. My grandparents’ Lake George TV was approximately 13 inches, and its rabbit ears relied on the world at large.
One night, the signal allowed the magic of “Who’s the Boss.” For all who haven’t been keeping score at home, backstory: I had the most major girl crush on Alyssa Milano/Samantha Micelli. I thought she was perfect; the guy I had a huge crush on felt the same. It was 1987.
So my grandparents, mother, and brother coddled my love for “Who’s the Boss,” and we watched it on the little TV.
During the ep, I conveyed to Nanny and Pop-Pop, that this was the deal for 12-year-olds in 1987. Alyssa Milano was an ultimate goddess.
My grandfather, who was so not about the flashy compliments, settled back into his chair. Pop-Pop watched “Who’s the Boss” and said to me in his Kentucky drawl:
“Judith, she doesn’t hold a candle to you.”
And I believed then, and I believe now, that he meant it.
And that meant everything, to me.
Pre-home perm, pre-zits, pre-all of the bullcrap that saddles most adolescent girls, I had the most amazing man – the one who did Pike’s Peak marathon – tell me that I was prettier than Alyssa Milano.
And I will never forget that moment.