I swear to god I don’t know where my brain is sometimes. I wrote this last Wednesday, but forgot to hit “Publish”. Please pretend it’s last Wednesday, ok? It’ll make more sense then.
NewWifey(tm) and I just got back from a little mini vacation at the Jersey shore. This was a working holiday for NewWifey(tm), who’d been invited by a stitching shop in Cape May to teach one of her designs to a class of paying hens. I had no intention of accompanying her initially, but she promised a seafood dinner (expensed to her company) if I shared driving duties.
Every man has his price. Mine is a lobster roll and two crab cakes. I went.
I actually, despite all expectations, had a splendiferous time.
Having grown up in New Jersey I spent more than my fair share of time down the shore in my youth (handy tourist tip: it’s “down the shore” in NJ, not “at the shore” or – most egregious – “the beach“). My grandparents owned a bungalow just outside Seaside, and every summer until I was 14 my parents booted me down there so they could enjoy a few weeks of relative peace. Then through high school and college there were the usual weekend/break trips, and so on.
So now I’m sick of the Jersey shore. The ancillary parts of it, anyway. I still love swimming in the ocean and eating ice cream waffle sandwiches on the boardwalk and riding the Tilt-o-Whirl and smelling the salt air and wearing a bikini.
But I’m sick of everything else. The madding traffic on the Garden State Parkway, the maddening parking insanity once you get there, the maddening lines at the ice cream waffle stand, the vomiting kid on the Tilt-o-Whirl, the embarrassing bikini tan lines. Not to mention the sand fleas. All of them are so…maddening!...that I just have no enthusiasm for any it any more.
Now despite that litany of objections, NewWifey(tm) has spent the last 15 years trying to make me get over them. Growing up in that trailer park in PrairieLand, USA at exactly the halfway point between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans, the closest she ever got to either of them was a Bud Lite commercial. When she moved to NJ she was so excited to see her first seagull that she immediately went out and bought her first ever bikini, as well as her first ever little plastic pail and shovel (stupid Bud Lite commercial). Then she cried when I told her no way, no how, was I gonna take her to the beach. Hey, it was “for better or worse“, remember? Suck it up.
Now about 5 years ago I did relent a little bit, and just once. I forget why, but we were driving down the Garden State Parkway one cold January day and on impulse I took Exit 82 in Toms River, just like I used to when I was a kid. We headed east on Rt.37, right to where it ends in Seaside Heights. There was nobody else at the beach. It was 12 degrees out.
I parked right in front of the boardwalk, a near physical impossibility any other month of the year, and let NewWifey(tm) out. “Ok, here’s your big chance” I said.
NewWifey(tm) looked at me like I was crazy but got out anyway. Then, in full winter parka, boots, and gloves she clomped across the sand down to the water line. The wind was howling like mad in typical January fashion, and the surf was choppy and erratic, shooting steel grey jets in all directions every time a wave crested. Still, NewWifey(tm) was not gonna let this one and (possibly) only opportunity pass her by. Sitting safely back in the Mighty WRX with the heat blasting and Japanese anime theme song compilation CD cranked, I watched her sit down, laboriously remove one boot, then hop on the other foot right to the edge of the surf. When the next wave pushed a line of water to within inches she dipped a toe in, screamed, and hopped back.
“I did it” she gasped when she made it back to the car. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
That shut her up for a while. I don’t know if it was because the experience was so painful, or she finally realized the futility of trying to get me to go during a less meteorologically traumatic month. Either way, I didn’t hear about it for the next several years.
Then she booked the gig in Cape May, and it was game on again. “Come ONNNNNNNNN” she whined. “It’s two weeks before tourist season so it won’t be crowded, and we’re staying in Wildwood not Cape May proper so there’ll be even LESS people. I already booked a motel room, and the guy said the place isn’t anywhere near filled that weekend. You don’t even have to drive. You can get drunk and stretch out in the back playing Animal Crossing on your GameBoy while I take us there. C’monnnnnn!”
“I’ll buy you crab cakes and a lobster roll.”
And just like that, I was going to Cape May.
I’ll cut to the chase here, partly because I don’t remember the trip down. She wasn’t kidding when she told me to get drunk and get in the back. I was just another piece of luggage. When I came to, we were already at Exit 0. (Yes, there’s an Exit 0.)
I have to say, despite my prophesies of doom we had a very nice time. There were indeed blessedly few people clogging roadways or beaches, the food was great, and our motel was literally one building off the sand. This was our view from the balcony:
They even had a heated courtyard swimming pool, if the early May ocean waters were too cold for you:
The room itself, while tiny, was remarkably clean and tidy. We found out that the young guy who owns it is the 3rd generation of his family to run the place and he takes enormous pride in that. Every year he paints the entire building inside and out, and even lays down new carpets in every room. We were the first people of the 2017 season to spill a mai tai on the new rug in Room 30!
Guess how much we paid? 80 bucks per night, off season! We spent more on food than we did on lodgings.
NewWifey(tm)’s teaching gig only lasted 3 hours of one day, which meant that for the remainder of the 3 days we were there she could finally get all the touristy stuff she’s been dreaming of out of her system.
Taking pictures of our feet in the sand:
(hers are the bigger feet)
Getting that windblown selfie with ocean backdrop she wanted (even if it was cold enough that a top AND sweater were warranted):
She built a sand castle with her 15 year old plastic bucket and shovel. We ate crab cakes and lobster rolls. And everything else they could drag out of the sea and put on a plate. We drove around Cape May and looked at the Gingerbread Victorian Houses:
And we almost had sex on the beach.
One of the things on NewWifey(tm)’s Beach Bucket list was “midnight walk on the beach with my husband“. How sweet, right? I gotta tell you though, staying awake until midnight after two bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, a tureen of She Crab Soup, two lobster rolls and a half dozen crab cakes (each) was a feat in itself. The one thing that helped was that it was unseasonably frigid. As soon as we stepped out the door and onto the sand we immediately snapped to attention.
Needless to say, we had the beach to ourselves. On that clear, moonlit night we could see up and down the beach for miles. And all we saw was sand, water, and a few whale carcasses. (I think. They might have been abandoned stolen cars. This is still New Jersey, after all.)
So we walked along the water line for a while, NewWifey(tm) looking dreamily at alternately the ocean and me. It was her Hallmark Card moment, and she was loving it. I could practically smell the contentment radiate from her.
I decided to break the mood.
She yanked her hand out of mine. “Here? Now? It’s probably 40 degrees out! Are you crazy?”
“No! I mean, I’m not saying we should go all out and do the “From Here to Eternity” thing. But if we duck behind one of these dunes, that’ll block the wind, and we don’t even have to take all our clothes off. Just unzip, hop on, hop off, done. Do you want to go through your whole life never having had sex on the beach?”
She looked at me warily. “Have YOU had sex on the beach?”
“Sure, plenty of times” I said. “Granted, it was always by myself. But it was still pretty awesome.”
She snorted and looked out over the water. After a minute she said, “I must still be drunk, because I can’t believe I’m saying this. But ok.”
Woo hoo! Thank you, New Zealand sauvignon blancs.
I looked at the line of dunes behind us and made for the one with the tallest leeward side. NewWifey(tm) trudged behind muttering something incoherent under her breath.
“What was that dear?” I said.
“I said, I better not end up getting sand in my crack.”
“Oh, don’t worry” I said. “That’s just an urban myth.” I crossed my fingers that it was.
The dune I chose was perfect. The leeward side was dry and sheltered from the wind, and it was tall enough that any insomniacs in the nearby motels couldn’t spot us from their balconies. I got down on my knees.
“Wait” said NewWifey(tm). “Spread your jacket down first. I’m still worried about getting sand up there.”
“No way” I said. “I don’t want to end up with a wet spot on my jacket. Do you know how embarrassing that is?”
“Do it” said NewWifey(tm).
I did it. Small price to pay, I guess. I mean, it’s almost a badge of honor, right? I took my jacket off and spread it on the sand.
We got down.
Without getting too graphic, I’ll just say that it was a helluva lot of fun. I mean, it was sex so of course it was. But it was sex behind a dune on an empty beach while pretty much fully clothed and half drunk and bathed in the smell of seaweed and the sound of ocean waves, and you just don’t usually get that on a weekday night after coming home from work and just Doing It after dinner because there’s nothing on Netflix that sounds good and so what the hell. Yeah, I was diggin’ it.
NewWifey(tm) was diggin’ it too. After some initial trepidation where she would stop and brush away every imagined grain of sand that encroached on my jacket, she started to loosen up and get in the spirit. It was a hoot!
“YEEEEEEEEEOWWWWWWWWWWWW!” NewWifey(tm) let out a scream mid-thrust and threw me off her. She leapt to her feet.
“Something bit me!” she yelled. “Something bit me on my butt!” She tried twisting around and looking, but couldn’t see her butt in the dark. Her pants were down around her knees, and she immediately hiked them up.
“Hang on” I said. “Pull your pants back down so I can take a look.”
Reluctantly she did. There was just enough moonlight that I could make out a raised red mark on her left cheek, and a little critter hanging off it. “You got a sand flea!”
“A flea? There are FLEAS at the beach?!”
I laughed. “They’re just called that. They’re actually itty bitty little crustaceans. They’re harmless.”
“Harmless?” she said. “One of them bit me right on the ass!”
“Pinched, dear. They don’t technically bite.”
“Fuck you, Jacques Fuckin’ Cousteau. I was BIT. If it was you that was attacked, I bet you would have said – ” She stopped. “What the hell happened to the jacket?”
I looked around. My jacket/blanket was several feet away, wadded up. “It must have shifted while we were rolling around” I said. “No big deal. I can wash it.”
“No big deal? No big deal? MY CRACK WAS IN THE SAND! I’M PROBABLY FULL OF SAND NOW!”
“Oh calm down, you’re fine. Let me get that flea off you and we can go shower up back at the room. We weren’t on the sand long enough to load you up, I’m pretty sure.”
NewWifey(tm) bent over, and very gingerly I prized the tiny crab off her ass. I held it out to her. “Wanna have it for lunch tomorrow?” She swatted it out of my hand and pulled her pants up. 10 minutes later we were back in Room 30 showering off.
Now it’s about 1am, and we’re lying in bed. NewWifey(tm) has finally calmed down.
“Y’know” she said, “Other than the ass attack, that really was turning out to be more fun than I thought.” She was silent for a minute. Then, “You wanna finish what we started?”
“I thought you’d never ask” I said. I rolled over, planted a kiss on her belly button, then started working my way south.
Ok, we weren’t on the beach and there were no waves crashing on the beach and we were pretty much sobered up by then. But it was still great. I mean – 80 dollars a night! That’ll put ANYONE in the mood. I went at it with gusto.
When all of a sudden:
“HAAAAACK! ACK-K-K-K-K-K!” I started gagging and hacking uncontrollably.
“What the hell?” said NewWifey(tm). “Are you alright down there??”
I couldn’t answer. I was hanging my head over the side of the bed, choking and gasping for air.
“My god honey!” NewWifey(tm) started thumping me on the back. I finally got my breath back and started coughing and spitting rivulets of sputum onto the brand new rug.
After a minute I stopped convulsing. NewWifey(tm) was white as a sheet watching me, not knowing what to do. I motioned to her that I was ok, and a few minutes later I was able to talk again.
“I just swallowed a load of sand” I said. “You must have half a dune up there!”
NewWifey(tm) smiled. “I know. Now maybe you’ll listen to me next time when I say I have a concern.”
Goddammit. Women! If it weren’t for the crab cakes and lobster rolls, I wouldn’t even bother with ’em.
Oh well. Have a good night, y’all. It’s time for me to flea.
Yes, that was a crack….