Another Labor Day weekend has come and gone, and another “peak” season begins its rapid decline. Hundreds of thousands of people who made our little town their home for the summer, for a week, or even just a weekend exit in droves to return to their normal lives with fond memories of their time at the beach. New friends were made, relationships were started, and memories lasting a lifetime were created.
The sun is now setting a bit earlier, the kids’ bedtime is back to being enforced as they start a new school year, and both the temperatures and the traffic are decreasing. The alarm clock feature on your cell phone that hasn’t been in use since early June, has now been recalled to active duty, and is standing at the ready on your nightstand. Now, at 6:45 a.m. each morning, Monday through Friday, it will herald the start of a new day by playing your song of choice. In my case, it’s Bare Necessities from the movie, The Jungle Book. There’s just something soothing about the smooth tenor voice of Balloo that helps me ease into my hectic day. There’s also the fact that my daughter set the ringtone for me and I lack the technological sophistication to change it, even if I wanted to.
This is a bittersweet time of year for us, here. We all, as locals, breath a collective sigh of relief that we survived another season and we’ve regained our town. Though we also possess an innate understanding that the throngs of tourists whom we eagerly shuffled off are a necessary evil to our existence. Our knees, backs, and patience want it desperately to be over, but our bank accounts could use another few months. It’s all part of living and working in a resort town. Waking up every day in paradise comes with a cost.
The good news is that you can get to work now in about five minutes. The bad news is that there’s not much money to be made once you’re there. I, for one, enjoyed the summer of 2012, and am sad to see it go. My only regret is that I was not the fashion designer responsible for the skin tight, pastel colored V-necked tee shirt. I personally would not be caught dead in one, but it was in fact the official uniform of the summer of 2012. Guys, when you peruse your old vacation pictures years from now with your kids, have fun explaining that fashion statement.
As football season begins, baseball playoff races are heating up, and a new school year starts, something got lost in the pageantry of our shift into the second season. It’s a date that few, if any other than myself have marked on their calendars. That’s right friends; this week marks the one-year anniversary of Shorebilly’s Swill. I personally think it should be a national holiday but I’m having a bit of trouble getting it through committee.
Just over a year ago, the brain trust at the ever-growing, and perpetually forward moving Shorebread Magazine got together to spitball some ideas. Someone in that meeting (whom I’m eternally indebted to) went way, way, WAY out on a limb and suggested that I be a potential contributing writer as a columnist. The new column was intended to be written by multiple contributors consisting of local bartenders and others in the service industry. It was to be comprised of the experiences, and observations of these many people pertaining to the lifestyle in this area. I was asked to submit what’s known as a “teaser paragraph,” which I did. It was essentially one paragraph introducing myself, and the gist of the column. Two weeks later, I was the sole adoptive parent of the bastard child known as Shorebilly’s Swill. Hence, Syd Nichols was born. It’s still very unclear to this day as to whether I impressed the editors and publishers and was rewarded with the column, or if all the other writers backed out and I got it by default. I’m reasonably certain that it was the latter, but I will not hesitate to lie to my friends and relatives who follow me regularly about how I obtained this gig. (Editor’s note: We liked him, we really, really liked him!) One year later, you’re all still suffering through my weekly rants and ramblings. I greatly appreciate it.
I brought absolutely nothing whatsoever to the table as a writer. I was just a goofball with a twisted view on life, an unparalleled level of sarcasm, a plethora of stories, and a knack for conveying those stories to others in a manner that makes them worth listening to, or reading. It might be through embellishment, or painting a mental image, or self-deprecation, or just the story itself, but I try to keep them all interesting. I never wanted my writing to make me like “that guy” who starts showing you his vacation pictures. The first dozen or so, you’re interested, but not long after that, it becomes torture. By now, you’re being forced to relive a fantastic time that someone else had that you had nothing to do with, and you’re frantically searching for an escape. By the time the photo count is flirting with triple digits, you are seriously contemplating a ritualistic bludgeoning.
I’ll never make light of someone else’s pain, anguish, suffering, or foibles when I write. I have, however, found that if it’s my own story and I dig deep enough, I can find humor or at least a silver lining in just about anything. I may tell you that the glass is half empty, but then I’ll tell you how delicious the portion of its contents that I’ve already consumed, were.
I’ve spent the last year attempting to hone, and better both my writing skills, and my storytelling skills. It’s been a process, and the editing department will attest, has been long and arduous at best. Prior to this platform from which to spew my warped thoughts on a weekly basis, it had been quite awhile since I had written anything of any length or substance. In fact, the last time, I was seated on a beanbag chair on the floor of my parents’ basement. Between my legs was a milk crate that held an 85-pound typewriter. I had to manually push the lever after each line to return the bar back to the left margin. If I were really focused and applied myself, I could bang out 2 or 3 paragraphs in a shade under 4 hours. I’m pretty sure Reagan was in office at the time. I singlehandedly boosted the stock for White Out.
The facts that I have absolutely no formal training as a writer, and I am completely technologically inept have also made this literary journey an uphill battle. As I play the front 9 of my fifth decade, I still have yet to own my own computer and I’m about as hip and savvy with modern devices as a 92 year old Amish man. I’ve had an e-mail address for less than 2 years and I’m only about half a decade removed from owning a top load VCR, a rotary phone hooked up to a land line, and a TV that I had to walk across the room to change the channel. I’m not good with change. Until just recently, I thought that a blackberry was something found at a produce stand that’s best used for the flavoring of brandy. I thought that a laptop was a grossly overpriced dance that you are going to have to lie about later (Editor’s note: Syd also thought “laptop” was 2 words). I thought that an iPad was something the optometrist gave you after you’ve scratched your cornea. I thought that a Palm Pilot was a term used to describe pleasuring one’s self to a stewardess fantasy. And I still don’t believe a phone can be considered smart until it can find my remote or reading glasses, and help my kids with their homework, (which is something I recently discovered I’m incapable of.) Much to the delight of my handlers though, in the last year I’ve learned how to use spell check, cut and paste, and I’m not quite the grammatical train wreck that I was when this column started.
In the first year of Shorebilly’s Swill, I’ve written about lots of different things, and I truly hope you’ve enjoyed the ride. Both my life, and my subsequent writings have been a physical and emotional rollercoaster ride in that time. I’ve gloriously announced births, and painfully mourned deaths. There have been weeks where I’ve shown you my true human side followed by weeks where I’ve left you questioning whether or not I’m even from this planet. There have been weeks where my mere existence has gone from pinnacle to nadir and back again all in the course of less than 2000 words. There were weeks where I told you how much I love and miss my Mom followed by weeks where I discussed my hatred of and intolerance for stupidity. I’ve told you about my warped slant on holidays, organized religion, and social hierarchies. I’ve written about the bizarre things I’ve seen and heard in the bar and some bits of wisdom imparted upon me by drunken senior citizens. I’ve written about pride in my children followed by shame in the human race. I told you about some fictitious jobs that won’t be going on my resume and some fun things to do in an elevator to freak people out. It’s been a really great year for me overall and I’ve truly enjoyed writing this. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as well. I’d love for you to keep reading as we start year number two. Thanks for playing along.
Until next week,