SIGHTS, SOUNDS, STUPIDITY, SUMMER. That’s my alliterative intro to yet another installment of my rants on the telltale signs that our peak season is upon us. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live here year round are all too familiar with these. We’re also aware that many of these things we only see and hear for the most part, during the summer months. I personally, as a bartender in this seasonal resort town, often find myself battling on the front lines against an onslaught of stupid questions and statements, and a maelstrom of careless behaviors. Today, I’ll run through a list of examples—in no particular order other than how they pop into my head—of things we usually only get to see and hear from May to September. It’s not to say that we’re exempt from them the rest of the year, they’re just not nearly as prevalent.
One such example is something that I observed just last week while working. I was behind the bar and happened to look out the window across the street. It was approximately 11:30 P.M. and I noticed a shirtless young man who no doubt will be attending school on an academic scholarship and has a very bright future, standing in the bus lane of north bound traffic. He was staggering badly as if trying desperately not to fall off the earth. For the next twenty-five minutes or so he would jump practically into the eastern most lane of commuter traffic to moon, flip off, or slap each and every vehicle that passed.
Several things about this simply amazed me. The first is that he was never actually struck by a car. The second is that no police car ever passed him. And the third is that no one stopped to beat the crap out of him. People like him are precisely the reason that I carry a fly swatter in my car. A firm slap of flimsy plastic on a bare ass at forty miles per hour can have a very sobering effect on a moron. At the very least, he’ll spend the next day trying to figure out how the rectangular, waffle pattern welt got on his cheek. If I can save but one soul, I feel compelled to do my part. Personally, I’d prefer to carry one of those small fireplace soot-removing shovels, but there’s the potential for spinal injury. You don’t want to maim him, just send forth the message that his behavior is stupid and dangerous. Eventually, after nearly a half hour had elapsed, the inevitable happened. One of O.C.’s finest drove by and was greeted by the exposed posterior region of a prime example of the systematic dumbing down of society. The cop pulled over on the next block. Once the vacationing village idiot realized that he had just vertically smiled at a law enforcement official, he immediately started to run. In his infinite wisdom, he saw fit to run directly to the beach. Evidently, he is a very strong swimmer who had been told that the extradition laws in Portugal are very stringent where it comes to public indecency. I wish this kid the best of luck in his future and hope for all of our sake that he does not breed.
Considering who I am, where I live, and what I do for a living, sometimes I find it impossible to NOT use sarcasm when answering stupid questions. I’ll now site some examples of conversations I’ve had that can only take place in the summer.
TOURIST: Do you know where such-n-such a place is?
ME: Yes sir, it’s on 75th street.
TOURIST: What street am I on now?
ME: You’re on 65th street.
TOURIST: How far away is that?
ME: Well, I wasn’t a math major and I don’t have my GPS on me, but I believe it’s roughly ten blocks give or take.
Though I use fictitious locations, and avoid actual names and places, these conversations have all actually occurred.
Another time that someone was asking me directions to somewhere went like this:
TOURIST: Which way do I head on the highway for that?
ME: You head north.
TOURIST: Which way is that?
ME: Well, if you notice that the street numbers are getting sequentially larger, and the second biggest pond in the world is on your right…you’re heading the right way.
Sometimes, I just can’t help myself. For example:
BAR CUSTOMER: What’s the cheapest thing you have here?
ME: Evidently, you.
A few weeks back, three guys walked into the bar. I wasn’t sure if chess club had just let out, or if they were stopping for an appletini on their way to the casting call for the Big Bang Theory. The alpha dog of the nerd herd approached the bar and asked,
“So where are all the girls?” Again, I just couldn’t help myself.
I laughed audibly and asked, “Why?”
I’m certain that each of these young men had impressive IQ’s, but to think that they were going to obtain carnal knowledge that night was absurd. They had a much better shot at getting a modeling gig as the before picture in a Clearasil ad. The only reason someone other than their own parents had ever seen any of these guys’ photos, was that they were on the yearbook committee. It was difficult to resist the urge to ask one of my coworkers if our computers had crashed and I was not yet aware of it.
The awkward conversations involving stupid questions and my cynical retort are not just limited to the work place. As we all know, a couple of weeks ago was the air show weekend. For three days, we heard the constant roar of jets, and various planes of different types from different eras including fighter planes from multiple wars. The sounds were really cool the first day, but eventually the novelty wore off. By day two I really didn’t even pay attention any more. On the third day I happened to be doing some yard work, and the normally vacant house next to mine was occupied by weekly renters. The patriarchal unit of this family of vacationers was getting something from his car when we made eye contact. Although it goes against everything I stand for, I decided to be cordial. A ritual I would normally only engage in while I was on the clock and my livelihood depended on it. Now I found myself on my day off, at my own home about to engage in idle chit chat with a stranger. I would rather be tied naked to a hill of fire ants while a tribe of pigmies used a heated, dull moose antler to carve a tribal insignia into my face and torso, than make small talk, but I was cornered. As we stood in our adjacent driveways, the following conversation ensued:
ME: Hey, how ya doin?
HIM: Just dandy, thanks. How bout you?
(Now in my defense, this all could have gone differently had he not used the word DANDY. Now it was on! You don’t make yourself a diving suit out of raw ground beef to go swim with the sharks and expect NOT to get nibbled on a bit).
ME: I’m just splendid, thank you. Enjoying your stay?
(I’ve never used the word splendid in my life prior to this occasion, but it seemed fitting).
HIM: Yeah we are, but I couldn’t help but notice the unusual amount of air traffic around here. Is that normal?
(Good Lord. This poor unsuspecting guy had no idea what he’d just stepped into.)
ME: Yeah, it is. We’re actually on the direct flight path to 1941. A lot of people don’t realize that when they come here. It’s in all the visitor’s brochures. I’m surprised you missed it.
At this point, there was a very lengthy, awkward silence during which he had a look of complete befuddlement, and I was grinning like a puppy with a new tennis ball. I then broke the silence.
ME: Well, I gotta get back inside. I have socks to iron and I’m way behind. Enjoy the rest of your stay.
And I wonder why I don’t have a friend over seven-years-old. There are so many other sounds associated with this time of year: sirens blaring, tires squealing, brakes screeching; the sound of an aluminum can being tossed from the window of a speeding car; the sound of urine hitting pavement from a third story balcony; the sound of two drunken buffoons sitting on a curb at 2:30 a.m. mumbling, “I love you man. You’re my boy” to each other. There are so many other sounds of summer. I think I’ll just lay them on you a little at a time throughout the season.
One last quick story then I’ll leave you for the week. A few weeks back, I had just finished working a busy Saturday night. As I got in my super cool minivan for the commute across the bridge and home, I noticed that my fuel gauge was on E. Much as I hated stopping for gas that time of night, particularly at a twenty-four hour convenience store in town, it was much less annoying then the potential to be sitting out of gas on the side of route 90 in the middle of the night. I used my credit card to pay at the pump to avoid going inside and being forced to interact with an army of chilidog craving drunken mutants. I was still in my work uniform, so there I stood pumping fuel into my battleship grey dork wagon with my tie and apron still on, and pens protruding from my shirt pocket. It was not my coolest moment. At about this point, seven young men who seemed to have enjoyed their night to the fullest came walking by me. Most paid me no mind, but one proceeded to vigorously make fun of me. He poked fun at my vehicle, my attire, and my overall existence in what I can only assume to be a desperate and futile effort to make him feel better about his own. At first I just smiled and nodded, but he just kept going with his verbal assault. I finished pumping my gas and returned the hose nozzle to its’ cradle. This kid was still berating me as I finished. Having reached my stupidity tolerance limit, I looked him directly in the eye with a smile on my face and said,
“All of that may be true about me. But the fact of the matter is, I’m about to get into this vehicle and drive home to my smoking hot wife. It’s 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday night and you’re on foot, hanging outside of a convenience store with six dudes. Good luck with that.”
Thanks for playing along.
Until next week,