@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
This one may make my whole family seem like creeps but as the 2020 slogan seems to go, “it is what it is.”
Back when I was in 6th grade, my family did our first trip out of the country to the Dominican Republic with our neighbors, the Winters. We had many fun years with the Winters as both of our families were highly active and athletic and completely in love with the beach.
We didn’t travel for vacation much growing up, as we didn’t have a lot of money. My Dad always saved all of his vacation days for the summer where we spent every moment possible on Long Island beaches.
At this time in my life, I was under the false impression that my family was poor. We were very much a working middle class family, my Dad a blue collar guy for the Long Island Rail Road, my mother a stay at home mom. Though in the town I was raised in, we were surrounded by upper middle class and some just straight up wealthy people. I seldom wore anything but hand-me-down clothes growing up. While my parents rarely fought, when they did, it was usually about finances. So in my childhood bubble and point of reference: we were poor.
In the DR, we would be staying at an all inclusive resort (are there any other kinds in the DR?). In retrospect, I suppose in that whole week our folks did a lot of drinking and we did a lot of running around and catching lizards, which we considered infinite fun.
Upon arriving, we went to a shuttle to take us to our hotel. I still remember that shuttle ride pretty vividly. A middle class kid from the ‘burbs of Long Island— I had only seen true poverty on television. And it just doesn’t sink in quite the same. I still remember kids, who didn’t look that much older than me, carrying buckets of water to their houses, I guess, which looked more like shacks than homes. The dirt roads, lack of infrastructure, livestock running wild, triggered my already deeply seeded Catholic guilt and I felt genuinely horrible about the whole situation. It dawned on me at that moment that our family, too, were privileged.
This quickly passed once we got to the beach and I saw the clear blue water. My Dad had also assured me that because we were spending money there, we were helping the locals (a very American thing to say, but not only did it make me feel better, my dad also firmly believed it). Also, everyone who worked at the resort was extremely friendly and seemed happy. They often joked with us and they probably thought we were idiot kids but in many ways we were idiot kids. We were cautioned we could not leave the resort grounds, and having seen what the island looked like on the ride over, we were not tempted to, despite being over curious explorers.
Anyway, the beach there wasn’t a nude beach, but tops were not requited for women. There were a number of topless women at the beach every day. None of these women were American from what I could tell, that was more of European thing. It’s not that I didn’t know what boobs looked like. I mean, it would be many, many years until I’d have breasts of my own, but I saw enough movies, peaking through my fingers when I was supposed to be shielding my eyes from sins of the flesh.
There was one woman who was vacationing there from Brazil (I believe) who often parked her beach chair near ours. She never wore a bathing suit top. At that point in my life, I don’t think I’d ever seen a more stunning woman. She had long dark hair down to her peach behind, a tiny waist, killer smile, twinkling big brown eyes and delightful breasts. Everyone on the beach ogled at her. It was impossible not to. She was like a Victoria Secret model. I wondered what it would be like to be that beautiful.
We had spoken to her a few times. Even her voice was smooth, she spoke English with a Spanish accent. Maybe it’s no coincidence that when it comes to women, I find Spanish women the sexiest. She was super sweet and unassuming, vacationing there alone, working on her perfectly tanned, no tan lines body.
Back then, we relied on disposable cameras to capture memories. Both our family and the Winters had a couple of disposable cameras and a disposable under water cameras. I somewhat miss those days, in the sense that you didn’t obsess over capturing moments to making it look perfect. You simply snapped a couple shots, you only had like 30 shots per camera, so you had to choose what was worth it. And then there was the element of surprise once you had the pictures developed. I liked this whole process.
So, my Dad had been sneaking into the Winter’s bag, unbeknownst to them, the entire week, stealing their disposable cameras and quickly snapping a picture of that beautiful, topless woman before slipping it back into their bag. Unbeknownst to my Dad, or anyone in my family, the Winter dad was doing the same exact thing with our disposable cameras.
A week after our return back to New York when we got our vacation pictures developed, we were anxious to see our Caribbean memories. When we picked up the photos, we were instructed that we had to wait to go through all the photos together. Our family was sweet like that sometimes, creating shared moments. We started going through the stack of vacation photos to find that among smile faces of children (us), lizards and family portraits, there were photos of asses and boobs.
“What the hell is this?!” My mom exclaimed. But not angry. We all laughed. And all of us kids tried to snag the “dirty” pictures to look at them too. I guess we were perverted as well but I think all kids always want to look at things they aren’t supposed to.
Naturally, we blamed my kid brother, Mitch. Mitch was usually blamed for shenanigans but he was often a little trouble maker.
My Dad also cried innocence. Saying he didn’t take those photos, but he was laughing harder than anyone. Because he knew what happened. And he already knew that when the Winter’s developed their photos, they were going to encounter the same type of photos with butts and boobs in their family fun photos. And they did. When they got their photos developed, we got a phone call from laughing voices, “goddamnit John.”
I’m unsure what happened to those “dirty” pics. If I had to guess, Mitch stole them.