"Make sure you wrap everything up, alright?"
Glenn, our landlord for the weekend, smirked. A muscley dude with spiky hair and a tan, he showed no sign of having spent his life at anywhere besides the beach and the clubs. It's not a bad life, necessarily, but it's one that can really only exist in towns such as this one--tourist traps geared around tits and bronzer, just waiting to be washed away by a class-5 hurricane that Pat Robertson can blame on the wrath of an angry God.
After Glenn's warning regarding the level of venereal disease present among the female populace of Seaside Heights (here, I imagined a tiny particle of syphilis, its flagellum spiked and blown out, meandering its way from guido to guido, techno-dancing all the way), we surveyed our surroundings. The place we had rented teetered unsteadily on the border of livable and shithole--two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. Furnishings included a pull-out couch, a tiny refrigerator, and an eight-inch TV. We were going to have to rough it to survive.
The first order of business was exploring the boardwalk.
Actually, the first order of business was getting ready, which is unremarkable save for a story which I'm honor-bound to relate.
The weekend was hot as balls, and our air conditioner was barely worthy of the name, so we each relied on different methods of staying cool and dry. I had just finished applying an extra layer of deodorant, when Phil offered a fascinating alternative method, which I hadn't yet considered.
"Do you need some GoldBond powder?" he asked.
Now, I'm an arrogant bastard. Out of everyone who had made that trip, I was the consensus choice for "most likely to get us all killed by mouthing off to the wrong guy". I don't like to admit that I'm wrong. But, in certain situations, I will reveal the limits of my weakness and allow that, yes, perhaps I don't know everything. Case in point: I had never in my life heard of GoldBond powder.
I suppose, at some point, I was familiar with the concept of deodorant powder, but I had neither used nor seen it used. I pointed this out to Phil, who had a quizzical look on his face.
"You know, you put it on you, keeps you dry," he said.
The rest of the crew chimed in with their assent. Apparently everyone had heard of this shit except for me. I felt out of place. What was this strange world, where blowouts ruled the day, where the smell of bronzer permeated the air like the stench of death on a battlefield, where...where...where...
"You use it to GoldBond your nuts."
A beat of time. No one said anything. Everyone looked at Phil.
"Right?" he said.
Pandemonium. Chances are, if you see Phil walking down the street, he'll be fully protected from the evils of genital flop-sweat. He's a better man for it.
The boardwalk was half-continual bar and half-carnival, though clearly catered toward a more adult sensibility than your average sideshow. Our trip up and down the boardwalk was unremarkable, save for a rather ill-advised idea to consume at least one Long Island Iced Tea (aren't we FUCKING HARDCORE, eh?) at each place we stopped. I estimate we each lost something on the order of eighty dollars attempting to win various carnival prizes.
One game in particular enchanted us--a giant roulette wheel which promised an authentic MLB jersey as a prize. AP won a Mike Schmidt Phillies jersey on his first try. Juan countered with a bright orange Cal Ripken Jr. jersey. Struggling only a bit more than our first two winners, Phil took home a Derek Jeter All-Star game uniform.
Ron and I were left with nothing. The vendor, a hefty and good-natured woman with a tattoo spanning her ample chest, implored us to continue, but fortunately for our wallets, it was about time to start hitting the clubs.
I've referenced the concept of a "blowout" several times here without truly describing it. A blowout is a haircut that has found somewhat of a habitat on the skull of your average Jersey guido. Perhaps you want one of your own. Here is a quick guide on how to style your hair in the form of a blowout:
- Get the bangin-est, most hardcore, industrial strength hair gel you can possibly find. You may have to order it from shady arms dealers, because in some countries, you can make certain low-grade chemical weapons from this stuff.
- Stand in front of a concussion grenade. Wait for it to go off.
- When it goes off, use the gel to keep your hair in the exact same place said grenade has left it.
"This is probably the second-strongest stuff I have," he said. I shuddered. The strongest stuff was probably toxic.
"I had better have all my fucking hair in the morning," I said, as I went to work.
Andrew is ron to joe: “he’s defining the hairline right now.” 12:35am
I was still getting that shit out of my head three days later.
At the beginning of the trip, we had half a notion to institute a rule that would increase the sociability of everyone involved. The rule was as such; were you caught eying a girl, and someone noticed, you had to go talk to her. Phil and I thought this rule was a great idea.
We stood watch on the balcony of Bamboo, apparently the best nightclub in the area, and we observed with a mounting horror just how irrelevant our rule was.
Bright orange neon bamboo trees bathed the place in a hellish light, and techno music blared from three or four separate sources (I was vaguely reminded of sleep-deprivation torture at Guantanamo Bay). The assorted humanity either writhed on the dance floor or chatted at tables.
I looked at one group of girls. Teased-out hair. Deep, bronze-aided tans. Screeching giggles.
I shifted focus to another group. Teased-out hair. Deep, bronze-aided tans. Screeching giggles.
Now disoriented, I spied another group. Teased-out hair. Deep, bronze-aided...wait, was this the same group as before?
Phil shook his head. Behind him, I took a picture of a man with terrible cornrows, and another guy with a graphic t-shirt featuring what looked like an imperial Eagle (used by the Romans, but also by a group of clean-cut German fellows from the 1930s).
"They look the same," he said. "They all look the same."
We left. But we'd be back. The rest of the night is a haze, your typical extended bar-hop, consuming drink after drink at each location until the alcohol has backed up to your eyeballs, until the bare thought of drinking more is getting you more drunk, but you couldn't be, man, there's no way--there's no WAY--you could be more drunk than you are right now, so you feel a sudden need for food and--bless it, bless it--Steaks Unlimited is still open, and the steak sandwiches and cheeseballs taste better than anything you've ever had before in your life, save maybe for the last time you ate something while hammered, and you're all laughing to the blue neon heavens about everything and anything as you all stumble into the apartment, but now AP has decided he needs must swim in the motel pool across the way, so you're cheering him on as he hops the fence and dives in, but now he's trying to get out and he trips and the motel is booing him, which just makes you laugh louder and longer, and you settle back on the floor feeling like ten billion dollars, because this place may be hellish, but it is hilarious, and you've got a whole day-and-a-half left, and
Suddenly, I began to feel sick.