I’m pretty proud of my New Jersey roots and most of the time I’ll defend the Garden State to whoever chooses to take issue with it on any given day. Really, what’s not to love? We have Bruce Springsteen, excellent driving skills, the beach, gardens, cranberry bogs, the Giants . . . I could go on. But I won’t because this weekend, Jersey betrayed me. I decided to make a rare venture out into the Jersey Shore Nightlife and I barely survived. But I’m a trooper (a Jersey Girl, really) and I’m going to turn my brush with death into a guide for all of you. Just because you might find yourself in a Jersey Shore bar some day; you might not know what you’re doing there but at least now you’ll know how to make it out alive.
I should start by saying that it’s my own fault, I should have known better. I’m a local (and a snob), after all. In the summers I would never think about going anywhere near the bars. But it’s November, I thought I would be safe. I thought I would be surrounded by other locals, and we would be a big happy family, happy to have the Bennys out of our normal-sized hair and back where they belong. Rule number one of NJ Bar Survival: Never let your guard down.
I’ve experienced culture-shock before but never within two miles of my childhood home. As soon as my friend, Aly, and I entered the bar we were surrounded by one giant stereotype. The stuff of Jersey Shore legend: enough hair product to re-pollute the Hudson River, enough scantily-clad-when-they-really-shouldn’t-have-been women to make me go to the gym, HUNGOVER, the next day. Worse, it was like everyone was speaking a different language. None of the words ended in “ing,” most had an extra “r,” quite a few just ended in a guttural “uh” sound. It seemed that all of the adjectives in the English language were replaced with “fuckin'” which is just impossible on so many levels.
We hadn’t been there long when, despite the fact that our chests were fully covered and neither of us were wearing pants that laced up the sides, an extremely muscular “gentleman” came over to “chat.” Despite evidence to the contrary, we’re nice people so we “chatted” in the made-up language of super-muscular dude. Apparently, he was out with his boyz ’cause turns out his wife is a (bunch of expletives that we don’t use on SWTCTW). Actually, she’s a stripper and last week he caught her “performing” for a complete stranger in their house . . . while their five-month-old son was sleeping in the next room. While this is terribly sad and I feel for the guy and more importantly the five-month-old baby caught in the middle of it, stories like that should NEVER be followed with “maybe we could meet up sometime, can I have your number?” Um, maybe when you figure this situation out and after you stop calling the mother of your child disgusting names. Not really, but maybe. I don’t really know what the rule is here. STAY ALERT. Which is basically the same as rule number one.
The next scenario is one that I’ve lived fairly often in my bar-going days. The bar is crowded, you get bumped by a passer-by and in turn bump into the person next to you, a stranger. You apologize, maybe flash a half-smile, they nod, and everybody moves on with their lives understanding that this is just something that happens in the world. Unless the part of the world you’re in happens to be a Jersey Shore Bar. So, I get bumped and I apologize, half-smile and all, to the girl that I bumped into as a result. She rolls her eyes and turns back to her friends. Okay, whatever. Until another passer-by bumps me and I bump the same scary eye-roll girl again. This time, I know that more than a half-smile is in order so I apologize and try and laugh it off but OH NO. We will be having none of that. The girl slams down her glass and storms off yelling “YOU KNOW WHAT?! YOU SAID THAT TWICE AND YOU BUMPED INTO ME TWICE!”
How exactly does one respond to that? “YEAH AND I MEANT IT BOTH TIMES!” No, don’t. Don’t respond. Just remember rule number three: Don’t touch anybody. Consider it a nearly-impossible challenge where failure brings terrible repercussions, like walking to school without stepping on the cracks in the sidewalks. Did you get kind of dizzy looking down the entire time? YES, but if you looked up and missed one of the cracks then your mother’s back would be broken and it would be ALL YOUR FAULT. This is practically the same. If you touch anybody, even if you apologize, you will end up covered in hair gel and pretty beat up. Just say no to touching strangers (and yes, that’s what she said).
So let’s recap. Never let your guard down, stay alert and don’t touch anybody. I can tell you that following these rules doesn’t make for a particularly enjoyable night so replace them all with: Take NJ Transit into the city. Sorry, NJ Economy, but it’s the only way.
[Posted by Madeline]