This year following Superstorm Sandy my trip to the Jersey Shore took on important new meaning. I fashioned myself as a sort of good will ambassador, meaning that on any given day it looks like my clothes are from a Goodwill bin. I elevated myself to just short of saint status for supporting the New Jersey economy one Coors Light at a time.
On the Garden State Parkway I thought of a fantastic way to decrease the state's tax deficit: sliding-scale tolls. The faster you fly through the EZ Pass, the more money it costs you- if you want to blow through the toll at 70 mph, let it cost twenty-five bucks. I bet people would pay it to shave a half-hour off their time, especially if they have kids.
I arrived in Belmar and started the usual song and dance of finding a parking space. In the middle of summer it's hard to park any closer to the shore than Flemington. I double-parked with my emergency flashers on, then hit the beach so I could find a family that looked like they might be prone to have an accident of some sort that would cause them to leave.
"Dude- your kid looks like he might be sick," I helpfully interject, hoping to speed things up.
"Why did you think that's my kid? First of all he looks Oriental, even though he is obviously useless in math, he sucks at sports except for things they don't offer scholarships in, like badminton, and look at that sand castle- he might be borderline retarded."
"That's not your kid?"
"It is my kid but from a previous marriage so I don't care about him as much."
"Oh. So you're not leaving? Incidentally you're not allowed to say 'Oriental' or 'retarded' anymore. Or 'badminton.' You have to use the phrases, 'westerly-challenged,' 'Jets fan' and 'volleyball-retarded.'"
That was a failure so I make a couple more laps around the block in my car looking for someone I can follow to their car and wait for them to leave, but by mistake I follow someone who is speed-walking. I just assumed they were trying to lose me, and I ended up driving for four miles in the opposite direction from the beach.
When I got back even more spaces were taken. I saw a bunch of tree branches in front of a house and thought to myself, "holy crapezoids- they are still rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy!" But it was just some guy pruning his rhododendron. So I moved the branches aside, parked, then covered my car with the branches as camouflage.
It was time for my inspection of the beach, important work in this troubled time. They are trying to rebuild the dunes, so they roped off areas where they can grow the sea grass, and no one goes in there. I thought that it would be a great place to grow medicinal marijuana, since even the cops don't want to destroy ecology. Another great idea I had for New Jersey's finances- so far I am two for two.
I was thinking they could raise the price of a beach tag from $7.00 to 26 billion, that way they just need one guy to go to the beach and bingo: budget shortfall gone. An idea MACHINE I am.
I was assessing the damage to the shore from my beach chair/ office. I noticed minor erosion of the beach, but none affecting anyone's hair, nails or tits. There were fewer lifeguards due to salary cutbacks, so you had to swim within a two-foot sliver of surf. They could not afford whistles this year, so instead they just held up a sign that said, "If you can't see this you are TOO FAR OUT!"
I decided to stroll the beach and enjoy a nice quiet walk. The familiar scenes are comforting to me, a group of girls throwing a football around (none catch it though); toddlers running away from their parents, practicing for when they are teenagers; A young mother spraying so much suntan lotion onto her baby that when she goes to pick it up it squirts out of her hands and lands in somebody's bag of potato chips. I think that this place really is stronger than the storm, because it's the people that make a place so interesting, and I let myself get lost in the sights and sounds... Then I realized I really was lost since all beach umbrellas looked just like mine.
Incidentally, if you get caught in a riptide, you should swim parallel to the shore, preferably the one you came from. Don't try to fight the currents. It's like being mugged: don't try to be a hero, just give them your wallet, your jewelry, your iphone and any valuable sculptures you happen to be carrying. If you have any silverware fork that over too. Once you're free of all that crap life will seem simpler, and then you can just swim back to shore at a leisurely pace.