Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Seen And Heard At A New Jersey Beach Club This Past Weekend

1) A thick-chested man in tight striped Polo shirt and a woman in tennis whites are walking towards the pool. “They say that money can’t buy happiness,” the man says. “Well, I say, ‘I’m gonna try to find out!’” The woman swats at his arm. The man laughs, “HA HA HA HA HA.”

2) In the parking lot sits a white convertible Mustang painted with pinstripes and a large New York Yankees logo on the side. On the beach, a guest asks a longtime club member, “So who owns the Yankees Mustang? With the pinstripes?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” says the longtime member. “But I’ve seen it here it before. I don’t know if it’s a member or just a guest. Last year there was a Mets S.U.V. out there sometimes.”

3) A pod of bottle-nosed dolphins appears in the ocean, swimming southward down the shore. They leap out of the water as they go, like white-bellied jet skis. A crowd gathers to watch.
“Look,” says a man to his six-year-old son. “Dolphins!”
“So?” says the six-year-old, who is standing next to an eight-year-old.
“Do you see them?” the man asks. “Right off the beach there!”
“Yeah,” says the six-year-old.
“That’s amazing.”
“No it’s not.”

4) A group of parents are sitting on the beach, drinking beer and talking about dolphins. “There have been more of them this year,” says a woman wearing large sunglasses. “They came a couple of weeks ago, and the kids were in the water. I looked out and saw the fins. And, you know… I think any mother would… I screamed. I started screaming, ‘Get out of the water! Get out of the water!’” She laughs at the memory. “I mean, you know, you see a fin… But it was just dolphins.” A man leans back in his beach chair. “I wouldn’t have said anything. I woulda been like, ‘You can take one of mine. Maybe then I could get a smaller car.’”

5) Loudspeaker: “Adult swim from three to three-thirty.”

6) A boy points up at an old WWI-style bi-plane flying over the beach. A man looks up to see it.
“Yeah,” the man says. “And watch. It’s going to be pulling a big sign.”
They wait til they can see the sign clearly.
“There it is,” says the man. “It says… Oh, it’s a giant can of beer! Did you ever see a can of beer that big? You’d have be awfully thirsty to drink that beer, right? It’s a giant Coors Light. The Silver Bullet.”

7) There is a happy hour cocktail party. Caribbean theme. Half-priced drinks from 4 to 6. A sign says, “Have your drink in a coconut—yours to keep!”

8) A steel drum version of Steve Miller’s “The Joker” plays on the soundsystem. A group of large reddened men wait on line for drinks at the bar. The bartenders are wearing black pirate hats with their white polo shirts. One of the men takes out his cellphone. “I’m gonna take a picture of these guys in these hats,” he says.

9) Three little boys are wading in a tidal pool that has formed next to the jetty, where a thin layer of tan scum floats on the surface, as well as an upside horseshoe crab. One of the boys is holding a smaller crab in his hand, a limp-looking sand crab. “Is this one alive,” he asks a man, who has come over to check on them.
The man holds out his hand to take the crab, which feebly grasps his finger. “I think so,” the man says. “He doesn’t seem to be doing too good, though. I think you should put him back in the water and let him be.”
“This one’s alive!” The boy shouts to the other boys. “I’m gonna make a crab zoo!”

10) A circle of people are sitting on the beach, talking about the new wife of a club member. “You can tell she’s not from America,” a woman says. “I mean, just from her body. It’s like, whoa! Women in America do not have…”
“Like the lady from 'Modern Family,'” a man says.
“Exactly. And from her… She wears a bikini that’s just… Well, she’s from Brazil, it’s a Brazilian bikini. It’s just, everything’s all out there!”
“And it’s bouncing around,” the man says.
“Yeah, she’s just all out there, bouncing around. And in front of the kids!”

11) A group of suntanned kids run foot races down by the water, where the sand is firmer. An 11-year-old boy loses to an 11-year-old girl. A group of adults jeer. On their way back up to the club for pizza, the boy walks with the girl and three other girls, slightly smaller. “Wanna arm wrestle?” The girl asks the boy. “I love arm-wrestling boys because I always beat them.”
All the girls look at the boy, who blushes and stutters, “Uh… da… I can’t…”
“Oh, right.” The girl rolls her eyes. “You sprained your thumb.”
“For a fifth grader, you’re totally immature,” the girl says and the other girls all laugh.
The boy smiles, happy.

26 Comments / Post A Comment

C_Webb (#855)

My brother's best friend married a Brazilian woman in a beach ceremony. She spent the three day weekend in a teeny bikini, and very man there spent three days staring either at the sky or the ground.

grammar (#2,400)

Great. Now I'll be thinking about crab zoos all morning.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@grammar So wait, you haven't been thinking about crab zoos since at least yesterday?

grammar (#2,400)

@boyofdestiny Yesterday I was thinking about a three-by-three grid of crabs.

jolie (#16)

Breaking: Local humans banal, full report at 11.

dado (#102)

You need to get out of the Driftwood and move uptown the Ship Ahoy, or something.

oudemia (#177)

@dado I was a lifeguard next door to Ship Ahoy (SBBC). Also at Ocean Beach Club, which was much nicer than either.

dado (#102)

@oudemia Donovan's was my beach club.

graffin (#9,588)

"You’d have be awfully thirsty to drink that beer, right? It’s a giant Coors Light. The Silver Bullet.”

When I have a child, I will never pass up a chance to bring up both drinking alcohol for thirst and bullets in a single conversation.

SeanP (#4,058)

@graffin Well, it's not like anyone is drinking Coors Light for the taste.

graffin (#9,588)

@SeanP I drink Coors Light because it can tell me it is cold. I'm not some sap who relies on the nerve endings in his hand to determine hot or cold.

hockeymom (#143)

@davebry…Can you explain what a beach club is? When we visit the ocean, we just go to the ocean. There's no club. What do you get with a club and how do you keep other people out of a club on the beach? Are there fences or something?

Lady who just goes swimming in club-less lakes and oceans.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

@hockeymom You should watch The Flamingo Kid. It will explain how these clubs work, and it's also a decent flick.

C_Webb (#855)

@hockeymom: There's also one in Goodfellas; Lorraine Bracco has to tell Ray Liotta to sign for lunch instead of paying cash, because he's never been to a club before.

A cultural study of the beach clubs would be really cool. I could be completely making this up, but my dad was a lifeguard at one of these clubs, and there were a lot of them in Westchester, NY, on Long Island Sound. They had pools and maybe tennis courts, no golf courses. They tended to be frequented by middle/upper middle class irish and Italians who were excluded from WASPy country clubs like the Larchmont Shore Club; in turn, the irish and Italians often excluded Jews and blacks. Again, this is a limited understanding based on where I grew up — anyone else?

John McGarry (#5,590)

@C_Webb @hockeymom Webb, I think you hit it pretty well-on, at least in terms of social demographics. The ones in New Jersey are primarily located in Sea Bright, a small strip of barrier island located at the very top of the shore, just south of Sandy Hook and within sight of the skyline. This town sold off beach frontage rights instead of leaving the beach open to the public (there's a small football-field length strip free to the public, mostly a surfing/sun-bathing spot).

Each of these clubs, with maybe 150 yards of frontage and no more than 3 acres of total land, maintains their own battalion of lifeguards (almost all the middle-teen ruggers and LAX boys of member families. A few token pretty girls) who endlessly sweep the boarded paths leading down to the beach and manage the parking lot as if they're flaggers on the JFK taxiways. All of them have walkie-talkies on which they communicate in a way that makes it seem as if the work they're doing is absolutely critical to some larger mission, and not just keeping pampered feet sand-free. They also have a fleet of three or so 4x4s, because god forbid they walk the 300 yards to the water.

hockeymom (#143)

@John McGarry @C_Webb Thank you. I love your descriptions.

BadUncle (#153)

@hockeymom I'm still stunned at the idea of a private beach. In the Old Country (SoCal), there are maybe 3 or 4 pre-War developments with "private" beaches. Yet under state law, the property only extends to the high-water mark on the beach, and every town must maintain access to the beach for non-property owners.

oudemia (#177)

@John McGarry Bahaha. I had this job! At the fanciest club I worked at (most of the kids went to boarding school, some of the members were famous), it was entirely against the rules to employ relatives of members (weirdly, member kids wanted to be lifeguards). The way the segregation worked for Jersey Shore beach clubs was WASPs and Irish at the same club, Jews and Italians at another, Syrians at one just for them.

DrFeelGood (#14,494)

@BadUncle That's true everywhere in the US. The area between high and low tide is public property, so you could walk through other beach areas if you stay between high/low tide. You might be screwed though when the tide comes in, since I don't believe they have to provide access.

GailPink (#9,712)

Crab zoo. Hee.

John McGarry (#5,590)

Mine, from a trip "home" of which I'm still in the regrettable midst:

"Their mom is an idiot. I mean, she's just STUPID. Their mom, by which I mean my wife. My wife is an IDIOT."

There was an aged semi-preppy Dad Band playing next to the wooden spaceship and castle for a few hours. Watching the gray-haired, baby-blue-polo'd bassist passive-aggressively ask his drooping-but-still-bikini'd wife why she didn't get him a drink or stick around for their set was a bit beyond crushing.

The band's name was quintessential Jerz: 'Exit 135'. They started with what I suppose were originals. The first one said 'fuck'; the second, 'shit'. Mind you, this was in front of the little children's playground things and their entire audience consisted of single-digitally-aged kinder. They then switched to covers, which I guess was better.

John McGarry (#5,590)

@John McGarry Forgot the more interesting one: My father noted that our club's lifeguards had thrown up the Yellow flag, indicating Caution, Semi-dangerous waters, while the neighboring clubs remained all-clear Green. I responded, "Well, they've always been pretty liberal with their use of the caution flag, if I remember correctly." Père: "No, that'd be a conservative use, because it's playing it safe." Me: "No, no, no. We're not using political spectrum stereotypes here. Liberal use, as in 'They liberally applied cream cheese spread to this bagel [waving Dunkin' Donuts bagel]' Conservative, in this situation, indicates reserving resources– conserving, one might say— until things get really bad." Père: "…"
[N.B.— the beach club clientele are strongly conservative in the self-earned well-off biz-man of the suburbs way. My copy of Harper's got strong stares from the family next to mine, especially when the patriarch spied the cover story on Obama and his generals (... I know I'm behind). Most of the reading done on the beach is actual beach-reading, pulpy mass-market paperbacks, Baldacci, etc.]

Smitros (#5,315)

This comes close to making a case for the workcation.

This made me love summer a lot, even though it's hotter than hell outside and I'm stuck writing reports. Thanks, too, for poking gentle fun at the quirks and inanity of otherwise good-spirited people; not everything has to be a caustic indictment of the Philistine masses.

hockeymom (#143)

@Charismatic Megafauna Except for, APPARENTLY, a pure and simple love for Angry Birds.

Post a Comment