We’re now about a month into the summer of 2013 season, and already it’s been sheer entertainment. Please keep in mind that when I use the word “entertainment” that not all things which entertain us are good things. I’ll give you some examples. We’re entertained by train wrecks, natural disasters, police chases, carnage, Nicholas Cage movies, explosions, global turmoil, and the Kardashians. I know there was kind of some redundancy in that last sentence, if you were following closely. Oh, back off. Don’t start judging me now just because I speak the truth. I didn’t say we like these things, I just said we get sucked into watching them; hence, we find them entertaining.

I’ll give you a scenario, and you only need to be honest with yourself. You wake up tomorrow morning. You pour yourself a cup of coffee which is already waiting for you thanks to the timer because we’ve become THAT impatient of a society. (Awesome invention, by the way.) You walk over and turn on your computer so you can read the morning news, or some watered down, sugar coated, filtered, chewed up and spat out PC moronic version of what is actually occurring in the world around you leaving nothing more than the essence of reality. You’re now pissed off that you’ve lost two full minutes of your self- important life as the internet loads. But what the hell, it’s still soooooo much less cumbersome than walking all the way to your front porch, bending over, retrieving the newspaper, removing it from that pesky, plastic scabbard which you hate and think is completely pointless every day except when it rains, then of course, it’s an imperfect product that has ruined your paper, and your morning! And then, there’s that exhaustive act of turning pages! Oh heck no, not in your house!

Fret not, 21st centurion, your internet is up and running and you don’t have to resort to that barbaric ritual. And just think, rather than seething over your entitlement, and flawed modern technology, you could have banged out 4 or 5 sit-ups in that two minutes you lost. Or called a sibling and actually SPOKE to them. Or walked outside and looked at the sun, or a bird, or a neighbor who waived at you while watering his garden. How dare he!
So thankfully, we can get back to the news story scenario. I just wanted you to take a couple of paddles in the canoe down the river of irony first to make sure you were on board and knew where we were heading. We’re now back to you not judging me about having the audacity to write what “we” find entertaining. So now you’re seated at your desk, second cup of coffee in hand, and ready to view your now fully loaded “news” from around the world to start your day. Lucky for you, you don’t even need reading glasses because with just a single mouse click, you can magnify the story you wish to read until it’s crystal clear for you.

The scenario is this: the first four news stories that pop up on your screen, happen to be accompanied by videos. I’ll now give you the hypothetical headlines to each of these stories.

STORY #1: “Second grade class from Minnesota sings God Bless America while on field trip…”
STORY #2: “Arkansas man celebrates 100 birthday while juggling and riding unicycle…”
STORY #3: “Turns out, all the tea in China wasn’t worth what we once thought…”
STORY #4: “Good Samaritan mauled by great white shark while dozens look on…”

Which one do you click on? Nobody is watching, and no one is judging you. Just be honest with yourself.

Okay. Now that we’ve all cleansed ourselves of admonishing me right out of the gate, we can circle all the way back to the story at hand. Which incidentally are the sights associated with the start of the summer of 2013 in Ocean City, Maryland.

Hopefully you’ve all chuckled at all of the modern day ironies I’ve touched on to this point, regardless of how close to home they may have hit. In case I pissed any of you off, I have a semi-weekly news publication that is delivered to my home. It’s a newspaper, neatly folded by someone – probably a better person than me – and placed into the narrow plastic bag just right. And every other Thursday, when I begrudgingly drag my recycle can 30 feet to the curb for pick up, I scoop them all up and place them in the giant green and yellow can for proper disposal and for a brief moment, feel like I did my part. So, I included myself in that montage of modern day sloth like tendencies.

And now we’ll delve into the sights I’ve seen in the bar and around town already this summer, that I’ve found “entertaining”. Human behavior will never cease to fascinate and amaze me. Every time I think I’ve seen it all, or that society can’t get any dumber, I’m once again proven wrong. This summer so far, I’ve noticed a much wider range of people visiting and a much broader conglomerate of humanity. In addition to the normal droves of people who flock to our shores each year, we’ve picked up a new demographic whom would normally be vacationing elsewhere.

It took about seven months or so, but we are now finally feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy. I say that with no malicious intent whatsoever, and certainly no disrespect. I mean that literally thousands of people who would normally be vacationing much further north of here, but still on the Atlantic, are now here. If only by default, they’ve found their way to Ocean City, Maryland. This is bittersweet for myself, and many locals for a myriad of reasons. The first is that a terrible natural disaster caused destruction and misfortune to so many people to our north. Much of the shoreline, and coastal towns through New Jersey have not been rebuilt enough to accommodate the crowds of summer. We sincerely wish them all the best. But in the meantime, whether or not I feel guilty about it, those people are now coming here, and we’re reaping the benefits. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally am not a big proponent of financial gain as the result of someone else’s hardship. Hell, if that were my thing I’d have gone to law school. But they have to go somewhere, and I have to feed my kids, so bring it on.

Another way that this is bittersweet to us, is that while thousands of people are coming here who otherwise would not have, they’re a little different than our usual demographic. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but let’s just say I spent all of Memorial Weekend feeling like I was an extra on Jersey Shore. I’m a reasonably bright, tastefully groomed, grown man who is free of performance enhancing drugs and has a disdain for those who butcher the English language despite the fact that they’ve never stepped foot outside of this country in their lives. So you can only imagine how long it took for the novelty to where off.

I once watched three minutes of that show only because I was changing the batteries in my remote. I took a few things away from that traumatic experience. The first was that I immediately understood why the rest of the world hates us. One episode of that program could certainly cause someone to want to destroy us. And they would probably be able to justify it in their minds by thinking they were saving us. My second thought was: Dear God please don’t let any of these people breed! Unfortunately, apparently it’s too late for that wish. And my third thought was that I had to quickly turn and walk away because I felt my IQ points plummeting like Enron stock.

I was just sinking in a sea of hair gel and steroids for about 72 hours. I almost started to believe my name was Yo. Is it a proud moment in a house up there, when a nine-month-old’s first word is Yo? I mean it seems as if it covers both Mommy, and Daddy, and several other monikers. It’s kind of like the Aloha of a portion of the eastern seaboard. I made sure to take credit cards on everyone who started a check that weekend. It’s not that I didn’t trust them. But if I started a check under the name “5 foot 3 guy wearing a shirt two sizes too small for him, with a poorly applied tribal arm band barbed wire tattoo around both steroid engorged biceps, with a fake tan, with his spiked hair making him look like a sea urchin, and white, yes WHITE sunglasses”, it would get far too confusing. I would have an entire page of checks with the same name.

So I sucked it up like the pro that I am, and just spent the entire weekend fantasizing that I was Drew Berrymore in the early 80’s film classic Firestarter. Well, I guess that’s enough of a rant for this week. There’s no room for me to start another one, and I try not to hit you with the cliff hangers this time of year.
Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols