Monday, July 4, 2011

The Observations of an Outsider

I like to think of myself as an optimistic person. Despite the serious lack of funds with which my four-week unemployment left me, I used the unemployment opportunity to my advantage and turned my free time into beach time.  I studied and practiced the strategies that create exceptional Jersey Shore experiences. I became a Beach connoisseur. A professional Jersey Shore girl.

Then I moved back to Maryland. Although I was excited to start working (broke was an understatement) and to see my roommates, I couldn't help but feel slightly depressed to move so far from the shore.  After 24 hours I was already stressing about when the next time would be when I could lay in the sand and soak up uninterrupted sun. "I want to go to the beach this weekend!" I declared the minute I returned from my five hour work day on Monday. Luckily, Katlyn understood my deep desire and replied with the procurement of house keys to her parent's beach home in Western Ocean City.

Driving to a beach other than in Jersey felt funny. I felt like an outsider, an alien in a foreign land, a Jersey Girl in a land of Skater Bros and Surfer .. er, girls.

For the curious non-Maryland native, here's the low-down on Ocean City through the eyes of a loyal Jersey Girl:

  • The beach town is  l o n g. Instead of splitting into separate beaches (like how Belmar turns into Spring Lake after a certain block) it lasts over 145 blocks.  And there is only one main drag you can drive from first street to one-hundred-forty-something street with insane drivers and traffic lights every block. 
  • People make u-turns. No jug handles; just balls-to-the-walls u-turns around medians between drivers going 60 mph. You would never see one of these on Ocean Ave back at home: 

  • I ordered a sub one night. The woman with six teeth behind the counter looked like I had six heads. Oil and Vinegar? An Italian Roll? You would have thought I was asking for a winning lottery ticket. Impossible. Instead I got Turkey, lettuce, and tomato on a soft roll without the mayo the server tried to make me feel stupid for resisting. 
  • Like Jersey, there were a ton of tan shirtless boys walking the streets. The difference was these boys are "bros" with short red shorts and long, sunkissed hair blowing in the wind.  The Guidos of Belmar wouldn't be caught dead with shorts that short. 
  • Almost everyone put a blanket down, and their towels on top of the blanket. Why?
  • Scopes. Probably the most bizarre concept an outsider looking in must attempt to grasp. Here's the general idea as relayed to me by roommates: A "Scopes" guy or girl lives at the Ocean with a gang of other "Scopes" kids and spends their days (9-5, 7 days a week) walking their designated area of sand, camera bag and obnoxious key chains in tow, begging vacationers to allow them to take their photograph. Because if they do, they can forever cherish a memory of their family posing unnaturally on the beach by peering into a a 1"x3" mini-telescope that can double as a keychain. Rumor has it that they're ridiculously expensive to purchase.  Locals are visibly annoyed by the constant prodding by "Scopes" workers and onlookers just laugh at the poor Foreigner or new Mom who gives into the Scope Pressure. 

  • Exhibit A:I will say that while I would never want to spend my time on the beach lugging a giant camera bag and begging families to allow me to take their photograph, I am envious of the tan and toned legs these Scopes kids procure by endlessly hiking on the beach by the end of the summer

  • The beach is FREE. Everywhere! I see two potential outcomes if this became the case in NJ: a) I would be at least a seasonal-badge worth richer every summer, yet, b) There is no saying who and what kind of creepy crawlers would end up on our beautiful shore, currently ruled by the fortunate beach-badge owners. 
All in all, it was an amazing weekend. I spent two days with my best friends, eating boardwalk junk, drinking cheap wine, and showing MD my best bronzing efforts. Not to mention, I obviously learned a lot.

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